I was talking on the phone to someone the other day who said something that made me very sad. The woman lives in New York, and I met her (not personally, but on the phone) when she called Diva Connection Foundation looking for help.
Life has been very hard for this woman. She has troubles that I cannot even imagine. She’s seen very little love in her 45 years on this earth, and she’s not sure when things are going to get better. The fact that I returned her call was astounding to her. Through the course of the conversation, she mentioned that I’m the first person in a long time who showed her any kindness. She actually said those words. And all I did was return her call!
It got me wondering, how many kind things do people do for me each day that I don’t even recognize? Sometimes we are so caught up in our own grief and our own troubles that we can’t see who is waiting to help lighten our load.
Kindness doesn’t have to mean paying someone’s grocery bill or volunteering 20 hours a week at the homeless shelter. I believe kindness can be as simple as looking someone in the eye and actually listening to what they have to say.
I’ve gotten a few letters this summer from people in our community expressing how thankful they were for the little things people have done for them. I’d like to share a few.
From Janice in Fargo:
“I was carrying packages to my car in the Moorhead Center Mall, when suddenly I found myself on the ground. Immediately, a voice from behind me asked, ‘Are you OK?’
In seconds, this young man had me up on my feet and walking me to my car. As we walked, a young lady picked up my packages and my purse and put them in my car.
The episode in the parking lot took maybe one minute, but I surely appreciated them being in the right place at the right time and willing to help.”
From Barb Diederick in Wahpeton:
“Some friends and I were in Fargo this spring to support a friend’s daughter at a benefit called ‘Shoot for Sam.’
We had stepped outside for some air when two men we did not know asked why we were there. We explained that we were supporting a young woman who had a double mastectomy and a hysterectomy. One man asked how old the person was, and we told him she was 25.
He said he had daughters that age and pulled out his wallet and asked us to give the $50 bill to the benefit. It was a wonderful act of kindness from a complete stranger.”
From Sarah Trogstad in Fargo:
“Longfellow Elementary has a great teacher named Mrs. Delapointe. This spring, her fifth-grade class received a grant to plant trees around the playground. The city provided stakes, mulch, a water truck and two workers to help our kids.
The class, plus nine parents, planted nine trees around the Longfellow playground.
These kids are amazing. They made up a schedule to meet Mrs. Delapointe every Thursday this summer to help water the trees, which meant five heavy buckets full for each tree. These kids are done at Longfellow now.
They are moving on to sixth grade at Ben Franklin. This was a gift for their schoolmates, younger siblings and neighborhood.”
From Shirley Nelson in Fargo:
“This week my daughter was visiting with a man about buying a home. In the course of the conversation he asked her about her family. She told him about her oldest daughter who is a senior at Purdue University and then told him about her youngest daughter who was 16 when she was killed in a car accident three years ago.
The man told her how sorry he was for what had happened and then he asked her what her child’s name was.
My daughter was touched by his reaction and also his question about her name. She said that no one ever asks what her name was.
I started thinking about a person’s name. It’s the first thing you are given when you are born and the only thing you take with you when you die. This act of kindness, to link a human being to his or her name, reinforces the truth that this was a life that was precious and valued.”
Life may not be all that you hope for each day, but I pray that you take the time every single day to reflect on all of the moments people showed you kindness and all of the times you were able to quickly and quietly brighten someone else’s day.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.
Nicole Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo, and currently the Executive Director of Diva Connection Foundation. She is the mother of three kids and the wife of Bison Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.