Project Kindness (Day 10)

I goofed up and I feel pretty terrible about it. To make up for it, I performed two deliberate acts of kindness today.

Earlier this week, I ran into a friend at work who I have adored since the day I started way back in 1996. He’s everyone’s favorite uncle. He brings an orange to work in his briefcase every day, he has perfectly manicured nails even though he’s fluent in machine tools, and his friendship knows no boundaries of class or color. He’s a stand-up guy who deserves much respect. Sadly, the love of his life was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer two years ago. In fact, she received her diagnosis the same day Russell found out he was going to have spinal cord surgery. We bonded over bad news that day. My friend’s wife has fought hard and is hopeful. He has been by her side every second of every step of the way. I can tell when I talk with him that he is very tired. And even though he has more than enough on his plate, the first thing he always asks me is how Mary Hazel is getting along. He is genuinely happy that she has started a new, healthy chapter without cancer. I am hopeful his wife will do the same. Anyway, when I ran into him this week, I mentioned that I was going to bring them a meal. At first I said Friday and then later realized I wouldn’t have a chance to grocery shop until this weekend. So, Monday would be better. Definitely Monday. Too bad I forgot to tell my friend who was forced to awkwardly call me at 5:45 from work to check on the dinner plan. Crikey. My good intentions and eagerness to help got the best of me. I felt terrible. I imagined him scrambling to fetch some hot food on the way home to share with his wife who was counting on not having to worry about dinner tonight. Every time I think about it, my stomach feels all swoopy. He was a gentleman about it, but I feel like a total heel. So Monday’s act of kindness is all taken care of, but I felt like I needed to do two things today to make up for me being such a forgetful cotton-headed ninny muggins.

I love going to Publix. They know me there. They know my kids, by name. I am addicted to BOGO. My kids are addicted to their free cookies in the bakery. Their cashiers make great small talk without it sounding like small talk. And the bag boys, oh how I adore the bag boys. I love how they politely commandeer my cart filled to capacity, unload my groceries, and then return the empty cart so I don’t have to juggle impatient and wiggly children with balloons (in the rain). When I went to do my shopping tonight (yes, I spent my Friday night grocery shopping and found it to be quite relaxing), I noticed that the staff seemed to be short handed. Maybe it was the crazy tornado-like clouds that kept some of them away. The lines were long and I had to bag my own groceries (gasp!) and then… had to return my own cart in the pouring down rain! This has never happened to me at Publix. Never, I say! I was flummoxed. Initially, I was a little put out, tiffed even. And then I decided not to be. It was the perfect setting for an unexpected gesture of kindness. Once I was committed to getting wet, I walked by several other damp patrons and volunteered to return their carts, too. It wasn’t the most graceful thing I’ve ever done, but I was able to wrangle four carts back to the front of the store. There, that counts, right? OK, well I’m still one in the hole for the day, so for act two…

There is a family who has been looking out for my family for several years. J. works with Russell and his wife, M., is a NICU nurse at our favorite hospital. I don’t think I know of two people who are as selfless and generous. They have five kids who, from what I have observed, are following right along in their parents’ footsteps. To me, J. is synonymous with banana pudding, my favorite comfort food. He’s made it for me twice – once when I was on bed rest with the twins and once while Mary Hazel was in the hospital. His portions were so generous I considered bathing in it. He was also the very first person, other than family, to call and come check on us the day we discovered our daughter had cancer. He has a gentle and generous nature which I have always found welcome. His teenage son is embarking on a very ambitious mission trip this summer. He attended a conference in January where he learned about the issue of human trafficking and slavery in parts of the world. As he explains on his Facebook page, “After the four day conference, I came back home and realized that this problem wasn’t something I just wanted to think about for those four days. I started researching the organizations that we supported and I came across an application for (one) that takes seven people to Nepal for six weeks. It is focused on helping orphans, street children, and victims of the sex-trafficking industry.” Wow. That’s much more ambitious than anything I ever did with my summer vacation. When I read about this, it seemed like donating to his mission trip was the right way to return all the favors. I can tell that he is going to be one of those people who dedicates his whole life to bettering the world. Good on ya.

Ugh, I still feel pretty lousy about the whole home-cooked meal debacle. On a happier note, the kitten who adopted us earlier this week has a warm, safe nest out of the rain.

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