Yesterday marked the end of this year’s Random Acts of Kindness Week (http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/).
The newscasts are so full of bad things, and internet comments are so often angry and mean-spirited, it’s all too easy to get jaded about humanity. But as I’ve posted before, my family has often been blessed by random acts of kindness from both friends and strangers. After our older daughter’s stroke, during my mother’s drawn-out passing from pancreatic cancer, after a tornado hit our home, many times an act of kindness has brightened our day and made our everyday-life burdens seem lighter. Our older daughter tells stories almost daily about strangers who have rushed to open a door for her in her wheelchair or when she’s using her crutches, or friends who offer to drive her to the store or to help her with laundry or other household chores that are more difficult for her now. After each report of a natural disaster or man-made tragedy, a spate of stories often follows about spontaneous donations of money, toys, food and household goods from strangers across the country who just want to do something to help, even if only in a small way. I search out those feel-good stories, needing the frequent reminders that most people are good and well-intentioned despite the sensational headlines.
In my last post, I told you that our family was blessed with a new addition in December, our precious grandson. When my husband and I first saw him minutes after his birth, he was wrapped in a hospital blanket and his head was covered by a sweet green-and-white snowflake-patterned hat made by a talented volunteer. His parents loved that cute hat; a nurse told them all babies there are warmed by those little hats that are individually crocheted or knitted then donated to the hospital nursery by members of the local community.
Two weeks after his birth, on Christmas Eve, our grandson was readmitted to the hospital for surgery, only a few hours after a diagnosis of a pyloric stenosis. Those first two weeks had been difficult and they’d had little sleep. Because our daughter is a doctor, she soon realized the baby’s feeding problems signaled a stenosis and it was caught very early. Even though the procedure is fairly common and generally considered low-risk, it was still very stressful for our daughter and son-in-law to watch their new baby wheeled off for surgery. My husband and I had returned home a week earlier, so they were on their own 1400 miles from their Arkansas families. The procedure was successful and mom, dad and baby spent the night before Christmas in a hospital room. They woke Christmas morning after a much needed rest to find that “Santa Claus” had visited while they slept. The room was filled with gifts for the baby — stuffed animals and toys and bibs and books and handmade blankets and even a baby monitor system! Every child in the hospital that night had been visited by Santa, who delivered donated gifts. My daughter gave me permission to post this photo of their “goodies:”
As much as they appreciated every item in the gift pile, it wasn’t the “stuff” that touched their hearts so deeply. It was the realization that there were people who cared enough about families spending Christmas Eve in a hospital room to go to all that trouble. The pleasant surprise had brightened their day, providing them with a good memory of that Christmas Day after such a difficult day before. Following a Christmas lunch provided for patients’ families – again by volunteers – our kids returned to their home with their healing baby and their cherished mementos of the kindness of strangers.
It doesn’t have to be just for Christmas. Or a formal “Acts of Kindness Week.” Compassion and generosity are needed year-round. I’m going to try to keep my own eyes open for opportunities to brighten someone else’s day as so many have done for me and for my family. Join me, won’t you?
Do you have a story of a random act of kindness that was especially meaningful to you? Tell me about it on my Facebook page (click the link at the right to be taken directly there).
Coming Soon: THE RIGHT TWIN, available in March from Harlequin Special Edition.
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