It doesn’t take me four times being hit over the head to hear our world needs a wallop of kindness.
It started one day at the public library. My children were finding some reading material for the summer program, when an elderly man stopped me. I assumed he needed directions or to tell me my kids were cute as a button, but that didn’t happen.
He stopped, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “I hope you never lose that smile.”
This, of course, made me blush and smile even more, because when you’re on a summer library run early in the morning, with unwashed hair, no makeup and semi-matched clothing, your self-esteem tends to be a bit low.
After I thanked him or said something dumb like, “I don’t leave home without it,” this gentleman added, “You really light up a room.” Well, if that doesn’t beat all! He’s now coming for Thanksgiving dinner.
My daughter elbowed me as we walked away and said, “Mama that man was flirting with you!” “No he wasn’t!” was my quick reply. Come on! He’s in his 80s and picking up chicks in the library lobby?
“That man was just being nice,” was my firm answer before my mind wandered to Anna Nicole Smith. It’s amazing how rarely we see kindness firsthand from strangers. With just one sweet gift, only taking a few seconds out of his day, he made me feel as if I had never had floating library fines.
Normally I’d be all over a teachable moment as awesome as this. But before the story came out of my mouth, the girls darted to find books so I sashayed around the library, smiling more than any sane person should on a Tuesday morning.
A few days later, my grade-school-aged children let me sleep in. Does anyone else hear the “Halleluiah Chorus” when this happens?
Usually when my girls are letting me sleep, it’s because they’re trying to eke in more electronics time, so I wasn’t expecting more than the glazed-over stare of overly electronic-fied children.
When I landed my caffeine and a section of the paper, I found parked in front of my kitchen chair a grand surprise — a breakfast comprised of reheated pancakes, strawberries and bacon. I was so impressed I initially thought it was from my husband.
My youngest girl popped out, beaming with pride. She had used real plates and silverware and folded a napkin next to my plate.
“Do you like it, Mama? I even ate the burned bacon and gave you the good ones,” she said with a grin. I was blown away. We have called her the bacon bandit for some time.
Every family has a true bacon lover. The relative who you think of, when finding bacon-flavored chewing gum, all the while muffling gagging noises. Our bacon bandit can awake from a deep sleep and trace the bacon smell directly to the pan. What a sweet girl to share her favorite food with her mother.
My last sign was when a friend shared the loss of her 99-year-old grandfather.
She painted a sweet story of how he always said, “The good book says you need to do a good deed every day.” She said he couldn’t go to bed without doing a good act. Whether it’s paying for the person behind you in Starbucks, or complimenting someone, or holding the door for the person with his hands full. After nearly a century, can you imagine how many people this man touched?
It’s apparent that wisdom comes with age.
In one week, two older gentlemen knew the secret to the beautiful life. Being kind to one another. From the surplus of hate on the news to the political insanity, we all could use gentle reminders from a couple of guys who’ve lived long enough to know the difference.
Thank you, gentlemen, for helping me see through the signs.
Previously published on August 13, 2016 in THE KANSAS CITY STAR.