The Kindness of Strangers

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!

“A good deed is never lost;

he who sows courtesy reaps friendship,

and he who plants kindness gathers love.”

–St Basil

12 thoughts on “The Kindness of Strangers

  1. Virginia Wilcox

    This seems so minor in comparison but yesterday coming out of Walmart there was a lady and her son trying to get his new bike in her car…he was excitedly jumping around as she was struggling with a baby car seat and attempting to wedge the new bike in the back seat along side it. I unloaded my groceries and walked the cart back to the place you’re supposed to put them (which just happened to be beside their car) only to see him now in tears and the mother taking the bike out saying…”sorry baby it just won’t fit. we’ll take it back and see if grandpa can’t come back this weekend when they visit to get it in his car.” I looked at my empty (my kids were at school) LARGE mini-van and knew I had plenty of room for that bike. I said, ‘excuse me, I don’t mean to be rude but I couldn’t help overhearing your dilema. I’d be happy to put the bike in my van and follow you guys home.’ The little boy looked to his mom who did appear a bit worried. But after a second or two of looking in my eyes I guess she figured out I wasn’t a serial killer and agreed. The bike fit perfectly and their house was literally right on my way home anyway. I got to see LaMarcus take his first ride on it before I left. The mother said he’d saved his own money since Christmas and the last two birthdays to get his new bike.

  2. Kathy Bradley

    Nope, Virginia. Not minor. Incredibly large to the only person who mattered. LaMarcus will never forget it.

  3. Andrea

    This is such a great reminder of the power of our actions and that small acts can have such a larger magnitude of impact than we think. Thank-you for sharing! Berkeley has a science of greater good institute that focuses on acts of kindness, practicing gratitude and research related to these areas. Check it out!

    1. baddestmotherever

      Very cool! One time when I was worrying that I hadn’t done anything grand with my life, my friend Brantley reminded me that finding contentment in life is a difficult practice, and the contentment I create spreads out in ripples.

  4. Catie

    My anecdote is a mirror. It’s been a harried few weeks! Living has been subsumed by my courses and corresponding projects, beginning my thesis research, planning a (nother) inter-continental move, and seeking a job on that other continent only by email… Wednesday was particularly chaotic and my face said it all; saggy, baggy, black eyes, pallid skin, unkempt hair falling strand-by-strand out of a slapdash bun, and a haphazard outfit made me a sight to behold. The only thing going for me that day is that I had showered … recently.

    As I waited for the metro, I noticed a mother and young daughter enjoying each other’s company. They laughed and chatted and shared a bag of sweets between their personal jokes. The mother noticed me noticing, so I said a quick hello and tried to stop staring. As their number approached the platform, the mom sent the tiny, pink-hatted one over to me with their last sweet. As she passed it over, she patted me on the hand and called me “mon amie”, my friend, with a big grin. As their train rumbled away, quiet spread over the tracks and heavy snow began to fall. I was unburdened by the beauty of the small kindness and its symmetry reflected in nature.

    We are connected by our humanity, if we choose to be. I’ve tried to pay it forward everyday this week in some small way, coffee change to a friend, a thank you note, offering directions to the befuddled-looking dude with too much luggage, offering my seat to the aging lady on the train. All these moments have ended with a similar big grin and that same feeling of being unburdened and someone’s friend in humanity. I’m glad to have written this down; I want to hang onto that sweetness.

  5. Lisa

    What did I do? Thanked as many working people (“cast members” as they are called) as I could at Walt Disney World during my time there. Wished them a good day. Told one bus driver “thank you, you should do this for a living” which made him belly laugh.
    Gratitude in a place where others want servitude goes over well, apparently.

  6. Pingback: Panning for Kindness Atop Lookout Mountain | Baddest Mother Ever

Want to Leave a Comment? Please Do!