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Performing Acts of Kindness

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Find the time to help and share with people in your family, neighborhood, and community. This guide is about performing acts of kindness.


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October 31, 2017

When I was eleven or twelve, I did something I'll never do again; probably couldn't do again. I walked twenty-two miles in a single day. Just on a lark. At that age, I was often besieged with fits of 'larkism'.

I decided to visit my Aunt Bert (Bertie Jane)* and my cousins. We didn't have a car, so there was no one to take me. I didn't have a bike. There was nothing to do but hoof it, and I did.

There were country roads back then, the kind John Denver sang about. Most were plain dirt. Some had been oiled to keep the dust down. I think I picked a time when a good oiling was way over due.

People, that was one dusty road. My throat was so dry I couldn't spit. Had I been able to, I think I could have spit enough dirt to grow a cabbage. I didn't wear socks that day. Good thing. My feet looked like I had drunk a cup of coffee made in a regular pot and the grounds had settled around my ankles.

Not to worry, once back home I would go to the back porch, draw a kettle of water, put it on the wood stove to heat, pour the water into a foot tub, grab a bar of Octagon soap and a good stiff brush, and soon have my little tootsies fit for Sunday morning.

You know what I miss most about those long walks in the country? The friendly people. Cars didn't have air conditioning back then. And they didn't have turn signals. Most drivers had the driver side window down, their left arm hanging out, ready to give a hand signal at a moments notice. It was only natural to throw up a hand to any one they saw, walking or driving. I miss that.

About half way to my destination, I was, as Granny Rollins would say, 'about to perish'. I came upon a house. It was one another aunt had lived in many years before. On the porch, sitting in rockers was a friendly looking lot. A man, his wife and the mother of one of them. And a big, old, lazy and gentle looking Shepherd dog was at the feet of his master.

I waved to them, looking for a sign it was OK to come into their yard. I was greeted with big smiles and a motion to come and sit a spell. On the safe side, I lowered my head a bit, so as not to direct my question to anyone in particular, and asked if I could have a glass of water.

The wife said, 'Sure, come on up and take a seat'. I answered, 'Thanks, Ma'am, this is fine. I had one hand on a porch post and the other in my back pocket, and one foot on the bottom porch step. Best to not be bold with people you just met. That's just simple country courtesy.

There was no city or county water this far out. My gracious host returned with just what I expected and more. A big glass of well water. Clear as a bell and chilled to perfection, probably in an old Kelvinator. Sweet water, that's what it was. I downed that water like there was no tomorrow.

She offered another glass. I said , 'No Ma'am, I've put you to enough trouble', knowing all the while she would get another glass full.

I did take a seat. I talked with them for a while. No sex, politics nor religion. Just simple country chit chat. Simple, but the kind memories are built upon.

Not wanting to overstay my welcome, I soon gave my thanks and said good bye. I had experienced a simple, kind gesture; one I will never forget.

My journey was brought back to mind by an incident that happened this morning, some sixty plus years later. I was up before sunrise, fiddling with my computer. By daylight, I was at the upper end of my property where it meets a main road. There were lots of cars and lots of foot traffic.

Occasionally, someone will throw up a hand, and I will return the gesture and then smile. Once in a while someone will speak. I usually get compliments on my flowers this way.

I was busy leveling some dirt I had used to fill a low spot. I was about fifty feet from the walk. I heard someone call to me. I looked up and answered, 'Hey'.

Before approaching me, they asked if they could come onto my property (A rarity these days). I said, 'Sure'. They came to where I was working. We discussed what a nice morning it was.

I said, 'What brings you out this early in the morning'? They answered, 'I went to get breakfast'. They lifted a hand to show me a fast food bag. Then they said, 'Have you eaten? I still have most of my breakfast left'.

I assured the person I had eaten and thanked them. We talked for a few minutes and they left. Then I began to think. What just happened will not happen again in a hundred years.

This person and I were not of the same gender. We did not have the same skin color. There were many decades difference in our ages. We did not know each other. Why would they be concerned as to whether I had yet eaten this morning?

'They' was a lady named Kathy. I really don't think there was a profound philosophy behind her actions, and I don't think her intent was to be a good Samaritan. I do believe she did what she did because, for her, it was a natural thing to do.

Think about that. A kind deed, not done because a religion commands it, not done to cause a feeling of benevolence in one's self, not done for any kind of personal gain; but done because it comes natural to do so.

The lady could have been friendly to me hoping to pick up on any clues as to whether I might be a good prospect for buying or selling drugs. I'll never know, but I refuse to believe that.

I want to, and do, believe that goodness still exists. Often we feel an urge to express goodness towards others and let the opportunity slip by. It may be that some of us need to, and can, cultivate a habit of acting more readily on the kind thoughts we have towards others. Just a smile can warm the heart of the recipient in a way we may never know.

I felt a little bit better than usual for the rest of the day just because a total stranger was willing to share their breakfast with me.

Goodness does indeed, still exist.

Link: *A Tribute To Bertie Jane

Comment Pin it! Was this helpful? 7

June 7, 20051 found this helpful

Blend one cup of love and one half cup of kindness, add alternately in small portions, one cup of appreciation and three cups of pleasant companionship into which has been sifted three teaspoons of deserving praise.

Comment Was this helpful? 1

December 14, 20000 found this helpful

Make it a point to say kind words!

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

December 8, 20000 found this helpful

Most of us are in the habit of gift "exchanges," but if you're like me, now and then you send a gift to someone who doesn't expect one and therefore feels obligated to return a gift.

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

March 6, 2013

I live on an island in the middle of a river in upstate NY. To get home, I must pay a toll. Each week, I stash dollar bills in the visor.


When I enter the tollbooth ahead of an out of state car, I pay their toll of $1 per car.

Comment Was this helpful? 1

October 15, 20040 found this helpful

We have all known someone who has been bed-ridden and we all know how hard that can be. Here is a small tip to make it somewhat more bearable. Outside of a window that is visible from the patient's bed, take a shepherd pie pan's hook and plant into the ground. Or screw a pie pan to the sill on the outside. From the shepherd's hook hang a bird feeder. If you are doing the pie pan add birdseed or squirrel food. This will give them something to watch besides the same old reruns. Add a bird book (identification kind) and they should have hours of fun. By Debra in Colorado

Comment Was this helpful? Yes
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