From Lydia Armstrong:
Jamie and family,
I know this is late, and I'm sorry, but I kept waiting for some really excellent opportunity to do something really nice for someone to come along, and it didn't. But I work at a retirement home, in the dining room, and it's sort of my job to do nice things for people all day. I make sure Mr. Beverly's bread is always toasted on his sandwiches. When Eulah comes to lunch a half hour after the dining room has closed, like she does every day, I make her something to eat and pat her shoulder when she starts to cry at her own confusion. I gave Mr. Jackson an extra piece of spice cake and asked him how he was settling in. I try to make the new people feel welcome and the longtime residents feel important. I always go across the hall to the activities room to see what new puzzle Betty and Al are working on, and I always put a few pieces in. I know everyone's name, which seems simple and kind of obvious but the other day I said hello to Lucille and she said, "Thank you for knowing my name. That helps." There are other things, stuff like acknowledging people and remembering little things.
Hope you all had a lovely Christmas, and happy New Year.
From Triet Le:
On my flight from Richmond to Oklahoma one week before Christmas Eve, I met a woman named Vickie. She was on my right, next to the airplane window. After a few minutes of silence and awkwardness, we said “hi” to each other and started talking.
Miss Vickie had just visited her sick mother and was on her way back to Los Angeles to celebrate Christmas with her daughters. It had been many years since they had had a reunion on this joyous occasion. Besides, she had just divorced an abusive husband.“This Christmas will be better than the past few years,” she cheerfully said.
I was genuinely happy for her. Her willingness to share the deeply personal stories touched me and urged me to do something. So I decided to make a sketch of her as a way to remember this friendly, opened and benevolent woman. I asked her for the permission. She resisted by saying she was old and not beautiful. I said I would do my best and she hesitantly agreed.
Thirty minutes of concentration passed and the sketch was done. Though I was not satisfied with it, I showed her anyway. She remarked that it made her feel old, which she said was the fact. Nevertheless, she liked it, especially the contemplative eyes.
“It’s the first time someone has drawn my portrait.”
“I would like to give this sketch to you. Would you like to have it?"
She gladly accepted it. I was honored to be the first person to draw her portrait. My greater honor was to give her a little joy before Christmas.
After the plane landed and before saying goodbye, to my surprise, she pulled out a grey scarf from her hand bag and gave me. I thanked her and felt so grateful.
Happy New Year, Mr. James.