We invite you to remember your loved ones who have died by committing an act of kindness in their honor. Love, kindness, generosity, sharing, these are the gifts we can give to them.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

I was thinking of Theo...

Each year, we open this blog with an inaugural address in which we describe ways Theo has impacted our lives during the year even though he is no longer with us in this physical space. He is always in our heads and in our hearts. I want to repost last year's introduction because it shows a lot about our son that most people would otherwise never get to see.

I was thinking of Theo…

“I was thinking of Theo,” my friend Nicole said yesterday.
“So was I,” I said, and couldn’t help but smile, struck by how I’d been longing to hear someone say I was thinking of Theo without even realizing I had wanted it. Nicole had given me a present.
I didn’t mention to her that I think about Theo every day. Thinking about Theo is, for me, much like breathing. It’s a constant. At the same time, thinking about him sometimes socks all the air right out of me. Sometimes when I see a flaxen-haired boy of nine who’s been lucky and skillful enough to reach the age Theo would be were he alive, I need to lean against something solid and focus on expanding my diaphragm to breathe. It’s a precarious balancing act some days, a faltering dance. I think of him, I breathe; then I think of him gone, absent, dead, and I can’t breathe.
Nicole is wise and kind enough to know I think about him every day even though I didn’t say so. Generally, I don’t talk much about Theo. One minor reason is because some days I feel like I can’t breathe (see above ↑ paragraph). But this hinges greatly on another reason: no one really wants to talk about a dead child. After all, what is there to say? How’s he doing? How’s his teething? How’s soccer camp going in the afterlife? If someone were to ask how I am coping having a dead child, I could go on and on, and there’s danger in that. While I don’t expect anyone to therapitize me, a pretty shabby feeling people who have kids can identify with is when your child is ignored, disregarded, forgotten. Especially when you miss the child so much that at times you can’t breathe. I’ve been enculturated to understand that talking about a dead child kills the mood in every room except in those few specially designated rooms where people purposefully go to talk specifically about dead children. Such rooms exist, and most people, luckily for them, need never visit. But try it—over dinner, or, say, on a date, at a party, or even in church! of all places—bring up dead children, and see if you don’t get the stink eye. The mood shifts; you can feel it in your skin. The barometer drops. Eyes dart, fingers twiddle, and you can see your breath in the air as someone clears his throat in uncomfortable recognition that he will one day die like all the rest of us poor slobs. We’re in this together, after all, though people don’t generally conduct their day-to-day mindful of this understanding, and within a minute, someone changes the subject, and the topic drifts back to something pleasant for everyone else to be comfortable again: sports, food, new plastic stuff to buy, the dreaded I was on Facebook and I saw a picture of this cat… The one who is most afraid of death tries hardest to crack the first joke following that pleasant rebound.
So it’s brilliant that Nicole said “I was thinking of Theo.” She was being bold and she was being mindful. Until she said this, I did not know how I much I’d wanted someone to appear before me as if by magic, providence, or kismet to say “I was thinking of Theo.”
Turns out, you are right now thinking of my son; thereby, you are giving me a gift as well. You, then, are a mindful person. It is amazing, really, that you are here reading this, enduring such jolly holiday tidings, breathing in and out, hopefully comfortably, perhaps contemplating what you can do to make the world a touch better and to fill the stocking for Theo, for your loved ones, for yourself. That’s the job of the stocking: it is for Theo, it is for your loved ones, it is for strangers, and it is for you. You, reading this now, are here because you are mindful.
Some of you have come here for years, and yet you know so little about Theo. What is there to know? He lived for nine months. He lived for 271 days. He only lived for three relatively healthy months in which he was able to laugh, cry, smile, swing, eat, stretch, poop straight, and babble. Then came the concluding six months, bedridden, tubes and tape, shunt and port and machinery and “Careful if you touch him, you may pull this tube out… Watch out for that wire…”
I will tell you that in my experience there is little that can surpass the great beauty in the mundane act of watching a healthy baby sleep well.
Since I have you here, now, being mindful, breathing in and out, and since you may know so little about him, I will tell you a few things about my boy Theo.
Thelonius Luther Helbert Fueglein was born with a mohawk. It was tall, bright yellow, and it refused to stay brushed down. People asked what product (as if) we used to make his hair to stay up like that. I have a hundred pictures of him with his giant yellow mohawk. When the surgical prep team shaved his three month old head to resect his lemon-sized brain tumor, they left the middle path of hair intact, seeing no reason to disrupt his life any more than it had been. I have a hundred pictures of him like this also. He was eighty-nine days old when they shaved the sides of his head.
Theo loved to swing. When he was two weeks old, 75 days before the tumor hit, we found that nothing would calm him faster than strapping him into his blue car seat and swinging him in wide arcs through the air. His eyes would open wide on the forward swing, narrow as he arced back. His mother Karla talked about how he was going to love roller coasters when he grew up.
Theo loved his mother. Often when she entered the room, his ears would prick up a bit, and he’d follow her movements. Babies so young don’t track with their eyes, but if he was watching anything, it was her. He knew when she was in the room. She was protector and she was food. After the tumor was resected, she was just about the only thing he’d respond to, if weakly.
Theo loved ceiling fans. As his newborn eyes adjusted to the life whirring around him, his eyes grew wider for sightings of Mommy and of ceiling fans. He was mesmerized by them. Maybe they helped calm the brewing pressure in his cranium. I am convinced that this is why swinging helped him feel better when he’d whimper and cry.
Theo loved the hum of the kitchen stove hood vent fan. When swinging him below the ceiling fan wouldn’t calm him, I would dance him in slow circles in the kitchen, on each revolution swooping his bitty body beneath the hood vent fan. I would sing to him a simple song:
         Where are you my darling boy?
         Where are you my Theo?
         Here I am, here I am
         I’m in the kitchen in daddy’s arms.
         When the sun has gone to sleep, we will find our rest
         On the hillside, on the soft warm ground
         And the moon will settle us down
         As the world spins ‘round and ‘round.
Ten minutes of any syllabic babble usually did the trick, until he was three months old. Then the tumor hit, and everything changed.
            Theo cried for hours after he’d had his stroke while we waited for the anesthesiologist from another town to come to the big city put him under for an MRI. We still had no idea what was wrong with him. Since he was crying, he could not be dead, the only comfort. Half his body moved differently from the other half that would not move. No matter how I tried to distract him, he would not look at me. I remembered wondering if he was blind. On that night, he was not. Blindness would come later, after the chemo. We rocked him and swung him in tiny arcs in cramped quarters. I sang him the song::
                    Where are you my precious boy?
         Where are you my Theo?
         Here I am…
I asked Karla if she wanted to sing. She did not—the first time she’s ever been unwilling to sing! Only then did it hit me what these words could mean. I’ve never sung that song since, and I never will again. We didn’t turn off the kitchen vent fan until after Theo died. 
Theo loved his Calming Vibration bouncy seat that displayed in an archway before him a tiny aquarium scene between two clear plastic panels of a happy starfish and two kissing fishes. Real water pumped through this small aquarium, spinning the smiling starfish! Two animals hung from the bottom of the aquarium scene for him to play with: a green seahorse/dragon thingy and an orange fish. When he grew agitated in his massive blue steel cage hospital bed, we’d secure the base of the chair on the bed and strap him into the seat, mindful not to pull out any of his various tubes and wires, and hit the on button: he’d vibrate to the tinny version of Brahm’s Lullaby.
Theo lost his mohawk to the first and only doses of cytoxan and vincristine chemo he got. After his eyebrows, eyelashes, and hair fell out, his head from behind resembled a dented baseball, red stitches from the shunt and the resection arcing from the base of his neck up around his ears. One might find the comparison somehow wrong or mean. More than anything in the world, I will remember Theo’s battered skull. It will be one of the last things I see before I die, I am certain of it. I will love his head always.
I remember how Theo’s head smelled during the various stages of his life, the various shapes it took on: from the copper-scented conical dome he was born with, fuzzily soft and smooth, that assumed a rounder shape the longer he was out in the world with us; to the flatish backside that resulted from his first three seemingly healthy months lying on his back, to avoid some sudden infant death, when it smelled like Dreft and sweet new baby skin; to the broken ball smelling of surgery and gauze and Betadine and tape it became when his cerebral cortex collapsed and the occipital plate sunk in and upward. I see all these shapes everywhere. I see his head in cloud formations, in the pattern of wood grain on telephone poles, in oil stains, in the black and gray patterns of slate rooftops on distant houses, in the river as it flows over rocks and fallen tree branches, in hubcaps, in streetlamps, in dreams. I see these things and I think: Thelonius… Sometimes I imagine Theo’s head growing right out of my own. It pops up out of my right ventricle, his head with eyes and smile and mohawk. He travels with me, up on my head, looking at all the things I look at, thinking of the things I am thinking, and we are of one head.
            The shaved side patches grew back once the toxic chemo left Theo’s system.  Some hairs grew quite long behind his ears. But nothing ever regrew where the mohawk had been. For the last three months of his life, Theo had a reverse-mohawk, an anti-mohawk, puffy on the sides, bare down the center.
I love the shapes Theo’s skull took.
            Another thing to tell you about Theo: he taught us many things during his brief stay with us. I figure he taught us more things, or, at least more crucial things, than we could have ever taught him.
He taught us patience. .5 mg. lorazepam (working its way up to 1 mg, then 1.5) crushed into .5 mg/ml phenobarbital, followed twenty minutes later by a 10 mg/15 ml. solution of morphine. Twenty minutes later, 5 ml. formula mixed with .5 ml of lactulose and/or docusate. Thirty minutes later, fentanyl nebulizer. Set up the feeding pumps. Wash the syringes. Where’s the chloral hydrate? Clean the Hickman port with the proper dose of heparin. Ativan, methadone, Zofran, oh my! Twenty-four hours a day, our dining room was his hospital.
He taught us endurance. How many long nights did I hold him, wondering if he’d die in my arms before sunup? I could count them; I could break it into minutes. I'd rather not, though. Sometimes it feels like it is still happening. It feels like it was decades ago; it feels like it was yesterday. We still endure.
He taught me how utterly critical the simplest motion can be: once per second for hours I stroked with alternating thumbs that small space between his eyebrows to comfort him after his gastrointestinal tube placement surgery as he was withdrawing from morphine. Those minutes and hours were the most crucial hours in the world.
He taught us how to value time. When things would careen south with him—stridor breathing, gagging, crying—time would speed up, everything would become utterly crucial. He'd calm, and time would slow to a crawl. A trip to the hospital: anything could go wrong. The way time moved while we were with him was like regularly experienced life-time, but incredibly intensified. What he taught us is knowing how and when to adjust. Someone told me it seemed like forever ago that Theo died, while it seemed to me in that moment that he died yesterday; the next minute it felt like he'd died seven years ago. Sometimes I think he’ll die tomorrow. To this day, he is still teaching us about time. He is teaching us that time does not heal wounds: what matters is what we do with our time, how we spend it, how little of it there is.
There was a word on the one-piece, snap-up, soft fleece sleepsuit we buried him in, medium blue with dark banded collar, a solid, strong color on him, featuring a childlike rendering of a mighty orange lion, maned thick brown. Next to the lion, the word “BRAVE.” His dying took forever, and then it ended in an instant. It took all the hard-won qualities Theo taught us to be able to hold him and watch him breathe his last breath on Feb 20th, 2006, at 3:33 in the afternoon.
It is very frightening to be brave. Theo taught us what it was to have to be brave for a little while.
We remember all this because of the most important quality, the sum of all these pieces: Thelonius taught us to be mindful.
These are the things I have to tell you about Theo. And so we dedicate this stocking in mindfulness to Theo, to you, to your loved ones, and to strangers we’ll never meet who are anyway our brothers and sisters. As wise man Stan Kustesky once said on this blog, “When you really get down to it, all we have is each other.”
I am grateful to you for being here, reading this, and I am grateful to be the father of Theo and Lula.
Go be mindful and have a fantastic New Year.

— Jamie F.

Monday, January 20, 2014

January 20, 2014

From Janet Lynn:
This morning I paid for a woman and her young daughters breakfast. She needed more money and I stepped in to pay for it. I was thinking of our baby boys, TJ and Theo. She thanked me and hugged me. It was a warm grateful hug that made me cry. This small act of kindness has made my day :)

From Anonymous:
I donated to the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence.

From Anonymous:
I gave to the Richmond Peace Education Center.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

From the Students at Warren County School

From A Warren County Student:

"First off let me say "RIP" to Theo and much love to the family. "When it's our time come, we will see him again." My act of kindness is being there for people just not me family but anyone whose having problems. I keep it real. I'm always that helping hand I feel as though I can make a change in the world if not I will spark the brain that will change the world.

From Aaron Harper:

Dear Mr. F.,
I've heard about what happened to your son, and I just want to say, I'm sorry for the lost of your son. I did something nice to honor him. To remember your son when he was alive we planted food for people who might not have food.
Aaron Harper

From Ahaquisa:

Dear Mr. F.,
I heard about your son. I did something nice to my brother, sister, and boyfriend. I help my sister with her problem or whatever and my brother help be nice to people. I help my boyfriend with his attitude problem. I'm really sorry about your baby son.

From Melody Alford:

Hey this is Melody Alford from Warren County High School so Hello Mr. F., I heard about your son and I'm sorry for your lost he was so young and cute but R.I.P. Theo. Umm I do a lot of nice things for people, I'm more like a helping hand and a giver . So I guess when others don’t have I give that’s a everyday thing that warms my heart. I love kids so I love to give them and make them happy and laugh. I put smiles on loving faces.

From Jamarcus Davis:

Hello Mr. F.
I heard about your son, so I did something nice in honor of your son. Just a few weeks ago the librarian at my school lost some money that she needed to eat with, so I helped her find her money. It was twenty dollars. Most people would have just kept the money and not said anything, but I picked up the money and gave it to her. It felt so good.  I hope you and your family have a merry X-MAS.
Jamarcus Davis

From Kylee:

Dear Mr. F.
You were very young Theo, you died young and the story I was told has done something to me. I've been doing good deeds all week since I heard about your child. I spent time in  the community, bought my mom a purse. I never met you or your child Theo. We always live.

From Nathaniel Timothy White:

Hello Mr. F. my name is Nathaniel Timothy White, but you can call me Tim or Nate..I heard about your son. I feel your pain. Before I was born I had a sister and when she was born she died. Now let's not talk about me and my life but the thing I did nice to honor your son is to plant food for people who need it.
Love: Tim

From a Warren County Student:

I heard about your lost and I am sorry to hear that. But my act of kindness consists of given back to the ones who have less than me. The reason I am going to do this is because it is better to give than receive, and also God has blessed me with things so I will bless others with things too. So I look at it as loving my neighbors. But I hope you have a blessed holiday.

From Joseph:

Mr F.
I heard about your son. I did something nice to honor him to do on the date 12/20/2013. Me and my third period class went outside to harvest collard greens from the garden to send to different places where kids don’t have nothing to eat so I showed my respect and picked them for the people. I respect you for sending the letter to let us know about your son. I just want to say I really appreciate you for making me write this letter.
Sincerely: Joseph

From Myesha Wallace:

I heard about your son. I did something really nice to honor him and I really hope he accepts it and happy holiday to you and your family. P.S. we went to the garden and we picked collards.

From: Larissa

To Mr. F.
I heard about your son. I did something nice to honor him.
Ever since I heard about your son, it made me think how grateful I am here today so I started doing things for people like helping people with things they need like donate things to people who need it and thank god for the people and family you have in your life.
PS Hope y'all have a very merry Christmas.

From A Warren County Student:

Dear Mr. F. I heard about your son. I did something nice to honor him. I did work for my uncle by working on houses with him

From Preston:

Mr. F.
I heard about your son. I did something nice to honor him by harvesting collards for the hungry.

From Kenyahre Watkins:

Mr. F.

I heard about your son. I did something nice to honor him by making sure that people in need have food to eat this time of year. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

January 6, 2014

From Christiane Morecock:

Hi! I have a new random act of kindness. A little late, but this is a good one!

            So I am back in Ecuador, in a very safe city called Cuenca. I have a friend who was getting ready to travel South America and he started in a city called Quito about 9 hours north of here by bus. He was celebrating New Year's Eve there and from what I heard had a pretty fun night. When he was heading back to the hostel, however, his whole group noticed this girl seizing in the middle of the road. They tried to help her but she wouldn't stop seizing. So my friend walked to the corner to grab a cab to take her to the closest hospital.
As he's standing on the corner a girl walked up to him and asked him for the time. When he looked down at his wrist to checked his watch, she stabbed him (I should have prefaced this with my friend being totally OK! Don't worry. The random act of kindness is coming). Long story short, he ended up with three stab wounds: two in the abdomen and a very fortunate, superficial wound in the neck. The cops arrested the girl and her accomplice.
            He was taken to the emergency room to clean up the wounds, examine them and send him on his way. Unfortunately this attack ended in a robbery and his credit card was in police custody and he couldn't pay the $400 emergency room bill. (Side note: a billion times cheaper than the US, the ambulance alone would have been at least $2000) So a boy he met just the night of New Year's Eve, named Michael, lent him the $400 without knowing him. He just trusted my friend enough to be decent. Michael, from the UK, becomes even more impressive in a moment.
The hospital decides it's about time to release him, and he starts to feel woozy and his heart is beating out of control. He asks them to keep him a little longer. They comply. He continually gets attacks of tachycardia and he feels like he is about to pass out, so he tells a nurse what is happening and they agreed to give him a CT scan.
            My friend is suffering from internal bleeding and needs emergency surgery to repair the damage. But it seems, as we came to figure out, that Ecuador requires a guarantee of payment in these situations before they operate. They are not accepting credit card numbers over the phone from his parents, they want a physical credit card. The volunteer organization refuses to put down a credit card because they don't trust that he or his family will ever pay it back. Instead they called me because we traveled to Ecuador together. But as you may remember, I am 9 hours away on January 1st, the largest Latin America travel day of the year. They say on the phone that he is critical and they need me there right away or he is going to die and that I am wasting time talking to them on the phone and asking me why I don't have a flight yet and telling me they can't wait for me to go to the airline and make a flight they need the card RIGHT NOW!
So, I go to the airline and start begging for flights at the airlines who are open. All flights are booked. I waited on two waiting lists and cried to almost everybody in the airport, but no one is buying it. I called them back to ask my options. The volunteer organization told me my only option was to call the US embassy, they couldn't do it themselves because they were afraid they wouldn't take them seriously as Ecuadorian citizens. I called the US embassy, who was closed for the holiday, and got connected to their emergency line. I explain (in English, thank god) the entire situation and how I need them to help him. They tell me they are already aware of the situation. Michael from the UK had already called them. The embassy explained they were connected to the right people and they assured me everything would be fine and that my friend would get his surgery before I arrived to the hospital. Michael continued to call the embassy to update them on the progress and the embassy would call me so that I wouldn't have to worry.
            Michael was an incredible stranger. Maybe it was just being decent, but the volunteer organization wasn't doing ANY of what he did. I am not saying my friend, whose name is Demik by the way, would have been left for dead without him, but that's something I'll never have to find out. 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve

From Pat Tabb:

Hello, Jamie,

I was so glad to hear from you this year about Theo's Stocking and I made plans to deliver bread and a small check for food to a dear lady we know who is unable to get out.  Today was the first opportunity to pack up my four grandchildren and to include them in the visit.  It was also an opportunity to make them more aware of reaching out to others, especially those in need.  We are delighted to honor Theo in this outreach.

God bless you, your wife, and your little girl.

From Jordyn Bradford:

Hi Professor F! 

Hope you're enjoying your break! This year over the holiday my family and I participated in Samaritan's Purse: Operation Christmas Child. We recently received an email saying that our packages would be delivered to children in Zimbabwe. Our Christmas packages contained school supplies, toys, comb&brush, toothbrush&toothpaste, a mirror, soap, a loofa/bath sponge, a pack of pocket tissues, and socks. We also included a letter from my little sister who are 7 and 10, asking if the children receiving the package would like to be pen pals.We are very excited to see if they will respond back to us! Here's the link to the organization's site if you would like to find out more about what they do. http://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/ Have a great new year! 

From Carolyn White:

I donated to Tipitina'sFoundation.
Happy Festivus to all!
Love , Carolyn

From Matt Clingempeel:

 Over Thanksgiving break, this teenager was running next to me on the treadmill. I guess he’s some big runner with the local high school team. He was running like crazy, over ten miles an hour. He did this for over ten minutes, slinging sweat everywhere. I’m serious, sweat was flying through the air hitting my treadmill and his was soaked. He stopped the machine and got off. I waited the last few minutes of  my run for his to come back and clean off the machine. He never did. So when I cleaned off my machine, I cleaned his off as well. That was me being nice. Then I found him working out and told him to never leave a machine like that again. He started to walk over and to the treadmills and I told him I had done it already, in a scolding manner. That was me being a parent and not as nice. For your son, if it’s not too late, just focus on the nice part about me cleaning up the leakings of another’s body.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

December 26, 2013

From Steven Funes:

Mr. F,
I am extremely happy to hear from you! Merry Christmas to you and your family, I hope all is well on your end. My life has been truly blessed and God is amazing. I graduate in May 2014, continuing my careers in the military and law enforcement.

            Today my church, Life Church, went to Monroe Park around 8:30 this morning for a homeless outreach. I read a poem I wrote, "Eternal Sweetness," passed out fresh stew and hot chocolate, and handed out numerous gifts and goodie bags to all the homeless present. The gentleman in charge of our outreach program witnessed to the crowd with his testimony and Bible scripture. We also prayed with them, played music, and enjoyed each other's company. One really cool and selfless thing that my mother did today at the outreach was give her very nice leather jacket with fur to a young, pregnant homeless woman. Truly made that woman's day as she said in a shivering voice, "This is much warmer, thank you!"
            Sir, I am so grateful that I have met you and had the opportunity to have you as my professor. You certainly are an inspiration to me to continue to be selfless and a servant to our world. May God continue to watch after Theo, as he dances and worships God in Heaven.
            Very respectfully,
            Steven Funes

From Anonymous:

Merry Christmas! This Christmas Eve, I took in a distant friend to come celebrate the night with my family because his parents recently divorced and both spontaneously decided to go out of town. 
        For another act of kindness, I hugged my father on Christmas Eve. We have not spoken to each other in months.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Day 2013

From Stephanie Ferguson:

For Theo, I donated 3 bags of cleaning supplies and treats to my local Humane Society. Love and Hugs, Fergie.

From Pam Powell and Annie Zoll:

Annie and I served free breakfast to the homeless at Kountry Kitchen, a downtown Indy soul food restaurant that provides breakfast and a gift to the homeless. Over 2000 meals were served! Cynthia and her staff are wonderful. When we arrived at the restaurant and discovered that the restaurant was short on men’s hats to distribute, Annie took us on a whirlwind trip to the only store open and bought them out of men’s hats to donate to the cause. With Theo in our hearts, we committed random acts of kindness along the way and hopefully spread love and smiles to as many as possible. I love you, Jamie, Lula and Theo with all my heart.

From Carol Schall:

For Theo’s Christmas Stocking, and for my mom: A girl on Em’s basketball team will heal with less pain because Emily and I gave her the good ice machine--it is electric and pumps ice water through a cuff that attaches to the knee. It is great for someone who has had knee surgery and makes recovery so much better.  Also, I emailed a friend of Em’s to find out how his coming out to his family went, and to let him know that we are here for him. Finally, working to make the world a better place through our law suit! Merry Christmas Theo! We remember you often, especially during our acts of kindness at this time of year.
            Note: Carol and her wife Mary Townley are suing the Commonwealth of Virginia in the federal court system claiming that Virginia’s amendment against marriage equality violates their rights granted under the U.S. Constitution. They are joined in the case by Tim Bostic and Tony London. Carol, Mary, Tim and Tony have the support of the American Foundation for Equal Rights--as well as the support of the Helbert-Fueglein family and so many others who love them and support them and believe that all people should have the right to marry they person they love.

From Michaux Dempster:

There’s a feral cat that lives close to the Five Guys we go to every Sunday, and a lady that comes to feed her every day. We offered to take a share in this work, and exchanged information with the lady so that we could relieve her of this sometimes.

From Eugene Gudym:
Hello Professor Fueglein,
            First off, I would like to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas, and soon a Happy New Year.
            It has been a couple of years since I was enrolled in your course yet have contemplated doing this since the very first time I heard about Theo and the blog you have created. Besides the daily unmentioned kind acts and expected male chivalry, I would like to play my family an original song in honor of Thelonius Luther Helbert Fueglein. I hope you take no offence to this because you truly do not know my skill of piano. I could be an amateur making a mockery, but I am not; I have played for a majority of my life and will play it for my family after dinner tomorrow in honor and in memory (already have it recorded). I hope Thelonius enjoys my song up there and I’m sure he’s proud of you for receiving so much positive affection from people who didn’t even get a chance to meet him. 
            Thank you for sharing your wisdom.
                                    Eugene Gudym

From Kevin Tran:

In honor of Theo this Christmas I committed an act of kindness. My neighbor who is a single struggling mother raising two kids was worried she couldn’t provide some holiday cheer for her kids. My sister and I took some time out to present these children with some eggnog, snicker-doodles, and crafted gingerbread houses with them. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

December 24, 2013

December 24, 2013

From Anonymous:
We didn’t do any as inspiring as so many who contributed to Theo’s Stocking this year but we do give to Saint Jude’s and the Red Cross each year (or throughout the year) and also donate new toys through a drive sponsored at our health club.
            The other day, though, I did have the opportunity to perform a small act of kindness when I noticed a man ahead of me driving erratically. The sun was such that I suspected he might be having difficulty seeing (this street in our neighborhood presents the sun shining directly into your eyes on the horizon in the morning this time of year) and it looked like he was about to drive off the road into a ravine. I honked repeatedly and he pulled over just before going off the road. I pulled up alongside him and asked him if he was having difficulty seeing. He said that was the case and I asked him if he’d allow me to pull ahead of him to guide him since I knew the street (I told him that just a few days before I’d found myself driving in middle of the road before realizing). He agreed and I got to start my day by doing something nice for someone I didn’t know.
            I think of you (and Theo) often.

From Christiane Morecock:

I just returned home from two shifts packaging meals for Meals on Wheels. The FeedMore Richmond. Not necessarily random though.

            Random act of kindness: My boyfriend just yesterday found a one hundred dollar bill in Seven Eleven. The only other person in the store was the man right in front of him in line. He asked the man in front of him if it was his and the clerk, both responded with a no. And even though he has been looking for a job for two months (and that's money that could have gone towards a flight for him to come to see me in Ecuador!!!) he gave it to man sitting on the floor outside of the store in the cold with only a sweatshirt.
            I'm hesitant to call him homeless only because I don't know for sure. Don't want to make that assumption, could be an insult to assume! But I would think he was homeless. I was waiting in the car and didn't know what happened. I thought it was a single he gave to the man. It was a very nice thing to watch, although boyfriend almost immediately regretted it when he saw how low his gas tank had become.
            Merry Christmas Mr. F! Have a wonderful New Year!

From Jada Toote':

Hello Professor F.,
            Merry Christmas Eve! I frequently hold doors open for strangers especially if they're struggling, I pick up items dropped by individuals in a hurry, and  I allow pregnant women to sit down on the bus before me if there aren't  lot of available seats. Basically I tend to unthinkingly do random acts of kindness, so I didn't know what exactly to write about. Then I gave Ms. Brenda, the cleaning lady in my building (who I talk to often), a Christmas card, candy cane, and wished her a merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. I could tell my gift had brightened her day. Ms. Brenda even said she would put my card on her calendar. I'm not sure if she has a lot of family or who she spends the holidays with however I'm happy I was able to cheer her up.

From Lydia Armstrong:

The other day, I pulled out of a gas station downtown and came to a red light at the intersection. I had my window down because it was nice out. As I pulled up, a panhandler on the corner nodded at me and said, "Merry Christmas." I waved and said merry Christmas back. He took a step forward and said, "You know, I've been out here since6:30 this morning and have said merry Christmas to everyone who came by, and you are the first person to actually say it back. Thank you." I didn't have any money, but he didn't ask for any and genuinely seemed more concerned with the fact that I acknowledged he exists. Since then, I've made it a point to nod or wave or say hello or merry Christmas to people on the street that usually get ignored.
            Merry Christmas.

From Leah Moore:

My act of kindness this year actually started right before Thanksgiving. A few days before the holiday my father passed. While I am dealing with my own grief I am also trying to be there for his girlfriend.  Because she was living there, I think she is taking this the hardest.  So right now, the simple act being a friend and confidant the gift I can offer her.
I hope you and your wife have a Merry Christmas. Happy 2014.


                        Leah Moore