Sunday, May 8, 2011

random acts of kindness

We're to have an unusually warm day today, 95 degrees.  I like days like this if I'm 'out back' in my garden boots, hose in hand and spade nearby.  That's just what I've planned this Mother's Day; I'll weed the day away.  I'll weed the pain away. 

I bought our first summer hibiscus yesterday; a big blooming, pink one, on sale at my favorite nursery, Plant and Planters.  They have a resident cat.  I love them for that.  They also have a sense of humor...why throw away broken pottery when you can find a spot for it? 

As I was paying for the plant, my pocket angel fell onto the counter.  I've carried her with me since she was given to me last Christmas; a random act of kindness, thrown in among coins for me to discover.  (Sandra buys my Limoncello, I buy her chocolates.) 

The angel reminded me of a vow I made to myself years ago.  I was going to try to be more like Mom.  Random acts of kindness came naturally to my mother.  I'd spot them so often as she'd tell me all about her day.  This was the story, the day I vowed to do better.

My mother frequented a neighborhood discount store.  She'd get some good bargains there; Lance Peanut Butter Crackers for my dad (only Lance would do) and stacks of paper towels. 

One day close to Christmas, she found herself third or fourth in line to pay.  The checkout girl on duty that day, whether by birth or accident, was terribly disfigured.  Mom watched the girl hold out a candy dish, offering some to each person she rang up.  Everyone refused, most unwilling even to make eye contact.  

When it was her turn, and the girl extended the dish to Mom, she of course, thanked her and took a piece.  But with what I know was natural ease, she then surprised the girl and said, "You know, I missed lunch today.  Do you mind if I take another?" 

Bold but quiet.  Always thinking of the other person, showing it with random acts of kindness.  I wanted to be like her.  I had to practice.  Have I?  Am I?

The answer came to me later in the day as I was pulling a numbered, paper tab from the machine at the seafood counter, at Central Market.  A gentleman just behind me was reaching for the machine as I finished.  He seemed to have family with him so I told him I was in no hurry, take my ticket, which would bounce him one ahead of me.  Then I pulled #71 and headed down toward the clams to wait my turn. 

I ran into the man again, over in the bakery, and he thanked me.  I realized his gratitude wasn't about any amount of time I might have saved him.  It was simply about the unexpected, random act of kindness. 

Like the night before... 

I was at a local seafood joint, having dinner before heading around the corner to hear the quartet.  (Need I say...The Mark McKenzie Quartet.)  Chris, the young and talented bartender, entertained with details of his upcoming trip to Cancun, to be followed by a few days Vegas.  (What I heard at Fish City Grill will stay at Fish City Grill.) 

It wasn't Chris' fault that my order of hush puppies arrived as I was finishing my meal.  The quartet I knew, was already ten minutes into the first set, so I offered the hot puppies to the group of four beside me at the bar.  They happily accepted as I rushed out the door and I was happy to see them later, at the wine bar, heeding my advice to check out the music. 

Such a long way to go but I've two little random acts of kindness to celebrate this week.  It was a good week. 

Today will be a good day too.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.  Meet you 'out back'...

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