The story of Samantha Manns’ has been making big news this week. She is an 18-yr-old woman who has committed to performing 89 acts of kindness in memory of her grandmother, who died at the age of 89. There’s even a Facebook page where she shares the story of each of the kindnesses and how they affected the recipient and her. I think this is an absolutely lovely idea!
After Richard died, I thought about ways to “pay back” some of the kindesses that we had received along the cancer journey. One kindness that jumped out at me, thanks to his leukemia diagnosis, was the overwhelming amount of blood and platelet transfusions that were always there for him when he needed them. By my calculations, he had received 156 pints. I spoke to the local Red Cross staff and they appreciated hearing a “thank you for what you do,” but the debt was still there to all those people who had donated blood. Richard didn’t believe in debt, so I decided to find a way to pay back all those pints. The hospital where I work does regular blood drives. I talked to the organizers and we agreed to have an “honorary” blood drive where you could give your pint in honor of someone you knew who had received blood products. It was a heart-warming success! Each donor filled out a heart that dedicated their blood in honor of their loved one. The Calkins gave blood in memory of Abraham, many friends gave in memory of Richard. My boss had never donated blood before, but rolled up his sleeve for this event. It turned out that he was O negative, the universal donor…and he’s given GALLONS since then. The 156 pints of blood that Richard had used in 10 months were paid off, back in the bank and ready for the next person who needed them.
Richard had a gift for small kindnesses and great kindness. He lived the Scout Oath of helping all people at all times. That’s how we met! Tomorrow is the eighth anniversary of his last day. Some measure of kindness left the world along with him and I want to make sure there is enough in the bank when people need it. Look around today for a kindness that is yours to give. Help someone find their way. Give an encouraging word to a stressed out mom. Thank a stranger for the work they do. Offer your jumper cables. Then tell us about it here in the comments so we can all share in the joy!