No act of kindness, not matter how small, is ever wasted. — Aesop
This time of year one’s thoughts are often on gifts. What is a gift of kindness that you’ve received? Did it come from a stranger, a friend, or a family member? How did you react?
Liz: I’m so blessed to have so many awesome friends. This question makes me think of last year when I was going through a tough time and my Wicked sisters and their significant others stepped up to help me in so many ways–with the blog, with holidays, with advice, and just always being there for me in every possible way. I will always be thankful to all of you for that and everything you do!
Sherry: Five or six years ago we met a friend of our daughter’s and her family at a hotel in DC. It was a really hot day so my husband dropped us off and went to find a parking spot. (The hotel parking was ridiculously expensive.) We had a great afternoon. Bob said the car was parked near the National Zoo so we climbed up the hill toward the zoo. He soon realized we’d gone to far so we reversed directions and started walking up and down side streets. Did I mention it was hot out? Elizabeth and I sat on a stone wall in front of someone’s house to take a break. A woman pulled up in her car and asked what was wrong. We explained the situation and she offered to drive Bob around to look for the car. She asked where we were from and when we told her northern Virginia, she laughed. She said usually lost people were from some place far away like Minnesota. They found the car and now Bob snaps a picture of a nearby intersection when we are out and about.
Barb: When I worked as a freelance title examiner my old law firm hired me to serve a supoena. Which was ridiculous. I don’t know why they asked me and I don’t know why I said yes. Anyway, the person I was supposed to serve lived in a brand new condominium complex back in the days when the idea of condominiums in the suburbs was very new. So here I was, this anxious young girl wandering around this complex where none of the streets were marked and none of the townhouses had numbers and there wasn’t a soul in sight. Then, a older mailman appeared out of nowhere and asked me if I was lost. “You lookin’ for one of them pandemoniums?” he asked. “I’ll show ya.” As we walked along he asked me why if I was doing this, I wasn’t studying to be a lawyer. I told him I didn’t want to be a lawyer, I wanted to be a writer, but it was very hard to do and very hard to make a living. “Don’t worry about that,” he said. “The cream will always rise.” Then he deposited me at the front door of the place I needed to be and walked out of my life.
Edith: Wow, Barb – and it did! Kindness: in 1998 I lived with my husband and sons, ages 10 and 12, in the capital of Burkina Faso in West Africa for a year. My husband had to go to Guinea for two weeks and there’s only one flight a week. While he was gone I came down with typhoid fever despite having been immunized and was the sickest I have ever been. I spent my days in the embassy infirmary. The mothers (one Dutch, one American) of two of my sons’ friends picked them up from the International School, fed them, brought them home to sleep, and took them for a weekend day, too. Our cook made me soup. And gradually I got better. Jeanine, the American mom, invited us for Thanksgiving dinner and I’ve never been more grateful. (And I have just reconnected with her on Facebook!) Below Jeanine now and me in Burkina Faso in 1998 with another Edith, an old friend from grad school days.
Julie: Well, my dear Wickeds, I am teary reading your posts. I have been blessed by kindness often in my life. On favorite writing memory was my first Sisters in Crime New England meeting. Hallie Ephron was president, and the meeting was at her house. I was a wreck. My friend Mary and I went together to the meeting, and sat in the car until a few people came in. I had seen Dana Cameron at Malice, and had read her first Emma Fielding book. I saw her in the line for food, and mentioned that I’d liked the book. She thanked me, and then asked me about my writing, and what my WIP was about. She made me feel like a real writer.
Readers: Please share your memory of someone being kind to you.
My neighbors let me use their spare room while waiting for the occupancy permit for my replacement trailer. What should have been just a week or so turned into a couple months as mistakes were made by the contractors and some unknown person filed a complaint about my brother’s vehicles which were parked at my place while he was in Antarctica.
That’s a lovely kindness, Barbara.
This is a weird one. I was traveling on my own in France, many years ago, in a rental car. I’d just filled the tank with gas, and driven about a mile from the station when a tire went flat. I think I had changed one tire in my life at that point, and had gotten as far as locating the tire (not where the manual said it should be), when a stranger pulled up (perfectly respectable looking, in a nice shirt and pants), got out of his car, and changed it for me. Then drove off. I never even knew his name. Sometimes I wonder if I imagined the whole thing.
A much-needed kindness! Did you speak in French with him, Sheila?
As I recall, we spoke mainly in monosyllables (while I did speak French, nobody in classes ever gives you useful vocabulary for times like these). “Tire?” “In the trunk?” And, of course, “Merci!”
I love this post! Thank you all for sharing! A few months before my first book was released, I met author LynDee Walker at Malice, who took me under her wing. She soothed my new-author nerves so much! She also introduced me to author Maggie Barbieri, whose personal story had inspired me for a long time. It felt like a magical weekend, and I have LynDee to thank!
Yay for LynDee!
I have been fortunate to be the recipient of so many acts of kindness throughout my life, but Edith, your story of kindness reminded me of this one particular one I’d like to share, particularly in light of the awful hurricane devastation this Sint Maarten suffered this year. When I lived in Sint Maarten in the early 1980s I came down with dengue fever. In those days, doctors sent you home with pills for the awful pain and said you would get better in time. As I was stumbling home a local woman, Marguerite Janes, saw me. She took me into her home, gave me a bed, took care of me until I recovered feeding me, nursing me with island remedies (“Don’t take those pills, dear, they’re poison and they only cover up.”), and treated me as her own. We stayed in touch until her death in 2003.
She was an angel, Kait.
What a beautiful story!
Back in the early 1980s, one very cold winter, our leach field froze. Though we got the holding tank pumped almost weekly until the spring thaw, we still had to be careful about water use. Our next door neighbors let my then-husband and I shower at their house every morning for weeks!
That is lovely!
I have been extremely lucky in my life to have been surrounded by mostly kind people. I live in a neighborhood surrounded by kind people (…well, at least on three sides!) who have held me up many times. Before I lived here it was always my family who pitched in when needed and though we had had many friendly neighbors, I’d never dreamed of asking them for more than a cup of sugar. Here, though, we act as one group. Whether it is cooking meals, giving a ride, remembering a birthday or shoveling a driveway, this community that has taken me to heart shows me the kindness of an everyday act. I am blessed.
What a wonderful place to live!
My first Bouchercon, Cleveland 2012. I didn’t stay at the conference hotel, but mine was only a couple blocks away on a map. I wore the lowest-heeled shoes I had, figuring they would be comfortable. On the first day, I set off for the conference hotel–and got bad directions. I walked two blocks in the wrong direction before I turned around. Then the two blocks back plus the two blocks to the hotel. My poor feet were in so much pain by the time I arrived. I ran into my friend Annette in the lobby and she literally gave me to the shoes off her feet (a flat pair of Clarks).
We laugh about that story to this day!
Annette is amazing!
Sherry’s story reminded me of a time that I went to NYC with my family and my dad’s friend and his family, who were originally from NYC, I think. We had a lovely summer day and dinner at some Italian restaurant and then had to haul tail to get back to the bus before it left. My dad took off with his friends to make sure the bus driver waited for us, cause we were cutting it close. I tried to follow my dad but his legs were longer than my 13 year old legs and I lost sight of him. I went to where I thought the bus should be and it wasn’t there, I turned around and tried to go back to the restaurant and couldn’t find that either. I finally just decided to stay in once place rather than get myself further lost in NYC. My father’s friend found me and got me back on the bus. Then he had to go find my dad (back in the days before cell phones). I’ve never been so relieved to get home in all my life.
I would have been terrified! You were smart!
Total stranger pick me and my kids up in a snowstorm and took us back to where we were living ask me if i had any money I said no and gave me 40 dollars.
All of these stories are warming my heart.
During the summer of 2016, our family went on a special tour to Korea with other adoptive families and their children. Towards the end of our visit, my husband and I decided to visit an area in Seoul with traditional homes. At a local coffee shop, I used my rudimentary Korean to verify that we were going in the right direction. A Korean man stepped up and, in English, offered to show us the way. As we walked, we learned that his son was studying in Hawaii, and that this gentleman had been to the States on business. He ended up staying with us and taking us out to lunch. We had a delightful time with him and exchanged email addresses. I recounted our adventure to one of our tour coordinators who said that someone in each tour group had a similar experience.
What an amazing experience!
That is so lovely, Jeanine – and how special that you were able to take David and Sarah to Korea. So your kindness to me was returned many fold. ;^)
So many warm stories.
As wildfires are threatening So Cal now, I’m thankful for the offers of places to go I’ve gotten. Fortunately, I haven’t needed them yet, but with high winds predicted through the end of the week, things could still change.
I hope you don’t have to leave. The fires are such a tragedy.
Gosh, Mark. I can’t remember where you are – Thousand Oaks, Ojai? Stay safe, friend.
Santa Clarita, which isn’t near the Thomas Fire, which is the biggest by land area. I had to leave work yesterday due to the Rye Fire, which has left town. Then there’s the Creek Fire, which is on the other side of town. Both are burning away, but it is still scary, especially because another fire could start at any time.
My heart is overflowing with warm feelings generated by all your touching stories. There really are a lot of kind people in the world. I have been the recipient of many of their kindnesses over the years. Shortly after my husband and I bought a small radio station in a small town, we joined the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters and there was a convention. We couldn’t both leave the station at the same time, so I went. However, it was my husband who was the real radio person. I was just learning the ropes. And I certainly didn’t know what was expected of me. The wife of a very long time broadcaster took me under her wing and made sure I had someone to sit with at meals, and generally led me around until I felt more comfortable. She was a life-saver. Eventually it got to the point when I could pay back the favor by helping others.
What an interesting story! A radio station? Fascinating! These stories are reminding me what a lot of good there is in the world too.
We call the vet treating our dog for cancer, Awesome Vet, because she has repeatedly stayed late to meet with us, come in on days off to read test results, and so many other things that she didn’t/doesn’t need to do and the only benefit is to us.
She even delayed leaving for her Christmas holiday in order to assist the specialist in our dog’s surgery last year on December 23, the only day he had free. It was an 8 hour operation and she stepped out and called us every hour so we wouldn’t worry. Afterwards, she stayed long enough to get our sweet pupper through recovery and then went home to rest before getting on the road on Christmas Eve morning. AND she still called us that next day when she got to her childhood home to make sure we and Little Big Dog were doing okay.
What amazing dedication!
I love all these stories. I have been very fortunate in meeting many kind people throughout the years. I wouldn’t have had my (former) career if it weren’t for one of them. I was working what was supposed to be a temp assignment, but because this person had faith in my work ended up being my first post-degree job. I stayed there for over ten years.
I’ve had some wonderful bosses too!
I have great neighbors and they really watch out for me. They’ve helped me clean and organize my garage, fixed anything that needed fixing. When I can home from a Thanksgiving get away, my leaves had been raked, the grass cut, and the screen door changed to the storm door. They are the best friends ever and I’m happy to have them in my life.
Dianne, your neighbors sounds fabulous!
I’m so glad to think that something I did made someone feel good or welcome. Thank you, Julie!
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