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.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's the Little Things...

I didn't set out to do a kindness when I started talking to a lady in the grocery store last week, but I think what transpired is a beautiful example of how spontaneous kindness can touch everyone involved.  I was at a workshop last Friday and had a lunchbreak.  I needed to pick up some cough drops and some non-perishable grocery things for home, so I went over to Martin's Grocery Store, got what I needed and fixed a salad.  As I was on my way to the check out, a stereo-typical grandmotherly lady--white hair, pink button-down sweater, big purse-- caught my eye and I smiled at her and said, "Hello!" I might have just kept going to the check out, but I felt compelled to turn around and walk back to her.  I said, "How are you today?"
And she told me this story:

"Oh Honey! You know, I am just dying to tell somebody what happened to me just now!"

That sounded interesting. "What happened?"

"Well, when I walked in the door over there," she said, gesturing to the front doors, "a little black girl just came up to me out of nowhere it seemed like, and she just threw her arms around me and hugged me!" She looked around as if she were still searching for her.

 "That is so sweet!" I said, to which she replied, “Yes, and do you know, I was over there just a minute ago at the salad bar and she came up to me again and hugged me, and she looked up at me and said, ‘I looove you.’ And I don't know where she went," looking around, "but isn't that just the sweetest thing?!" Her eyes were wide and smiling.

I nodded wide-eyed too, smiling and saying, "Wow--you must have needed somebody to hug you and tell you they loved you today."

Her face clouded over a bit and she said, "You know honey, I think I did.  My  husband Lester has been gone seven years now and I just miss him something terrible."

Oh, now I knew.  I nodded saying, "I know you do. And I know that this time of year can be really hard."

"Yes. It sure is.  Sometimes people just don't know how it can be."

 She started telling me all about Lester, how he was a fireman, how he grew up in Fulton Hill, just right over there, you know...do you know where Fulton Hill is? I did know where Fulton Hill is. 

I said, "Did ya'll grow up together?"

Then she said, "Oh, no, Honey.  I'm from a small little town in Southwest Virginia you never heard of."
And of course, my eyes got even bigger and I immediately said, "Where are you from?"
And she said back to me, "Oh, I'm from a tiny little town called Coeburn..."

Then I think my eyes probably bout popped out of my head. "No way!" I said--and here she looked at me like she thought maybe I might be crazy and I said, "I'm from Coeburn!"

Now she looked surprised. "No.....Really?"
"Yes!" I said. "How weird is that?!"

And she continued to talk.  She told me she was from Caney Ridge, did I know where Caney Ridge was..yes, I know where Caney Ridge is...and where did my people live, yes she knew Bond Town, but she didn't know my grandmother Virginia Nixon...or any of the Helberts.
 "And I can't believe I don't cause I bet we're probably cousins or somethin'.  I was originally a Dotson..."

She said that she had always wanted to be a nurse but her daddy told her she could never do that because she was a woman and what women did was raise children and cook and keep the house.

"But you know honey, my grandmother told me that all I needed to do was to wait till I was 18 and then he couldn't stop me from doing anything I wanted to do. So on my 18th birthday I moved to Kentucky and went to nursing school there.  Then I  came to Richmond to work and I met my Lester here."

She stopped and smiled for a minute, remebering him.

She patted my arm. "I sure am glad we got to talk today."

"Me too," I said. 

"You know," she said, "I wonder if Lester mighta sent that little girl to come and hug me?" 

I smiled and said, "I believe he may have."

"You believe in stuff like that?"

"Yes, I do."

And we hugged and I checked out my groceries and my salad.  It was a magical experience. I looked back and saw her talking with a fire fighter fixing a salad at the salad bar.

 Maybe she touched more than one person with her story that day.

For Thelonius

I am teaching JC Wright a young sax player at a local area high school for free, for no other reason but to help him.
---Jon Brewer

When I was studying in the library, I was bored and wanted a reason to procrastinate. So I wrote the words "you're beautiful" on pieces of computer paper and stuffed them in random books. I think that's honestly the most important message we need to spread to kids my age because we're constantly under pressure to achieve this 'perfect' image whereas beauty lies within.
---Vince Vichith

When I was walking back to the parking deck after class last week, I noticed that the parking meter next to one of the cars had run out and the parking authoritarian was closing in quickly checking other meters on the street. I felt like it was my duty to put in an hour's worth of change to prevent who ever the car belonged to from becoming victim of that dreadful VCU lime green parking ticket.
---Anna Belenkaya

Today I wrote someone I do not know very well. This particular individual has been sent to back prison on account of a "ridiculous" parole violation. It's a very sad story because this has just happened very recently, during this current Holiday season. I simply wanted to let this person know that I cared and that I'm willing to come visit him in his time of need. All that he needs to do is send me a reply so that the appropriate arrangements can be made. I've offered to perform a little music for him. Christmas, rock, classical, jazz....It doesn't really matter what I play for him; it's being there for someone in need.. that's what's important.
---Bryan '7' Rowland

When my mom signed up for a dining plan, she decided to get me one that would be impossible to finish. Originally I had 200 meal swipes, $300 in dining dollars, and 20 guest swipes. This plan is impossible to complete considering my dorm room has a kitchen in it and I’d personally rather eat real food, cooked by me, rather than dining hall food. Upon the arrival of the end of the semester, all the leftover swipes and dining dollars get thrown away and you get no money back. So, since I had a little over 100$ last week and I knew I wouldn’t be able to use them all; I took the freshmen from my team out to dinner at Chile’s. We all had a very nice time and it was nice to just enjoy each other’s company for the last weekend we’d spend together before break.
---Meredith McNelis

On November 1, 2010, my grandfather Henry Wesley Hicks, my stepdad’s father, passed away. During the Fall of 2009, his doctor estimated about six months left for him to live, which would have put him around May 2010 or so. Therefore, we were very grateful for the additional six months granted to him, as we went down to my grandparents’ house every weekend since we knew he could go any day. He lived a long life of 76 years, and was married for 45 years to my grandmother, who has taken his death the hardest. I knew at this point, I had to step up a notch and truly be there for my family. So, I put my poetry skills to work, as I wrote a poem to my grandpa and decided to present the poem to everyone at the funeral service (the poem I Love You is in my portfolio on Blackboard). The poetry truly brought great smiles and laughter, as we could remember the simple yet remarkable traits about this wonderful man. My stepbrother Kevin, a Sergeant in the US Marines, brought about ten of his battle buddies from North Carolina to be there in uniform at the funeral service, and I was in my US Army uniform. One of his friends came up to me after the service and told me, “I have never even met your grandfather, and after you read that poem, I felt like I knew him and I could easily imagine the wonderful man he was.” From that, I knew I nailed that poem and brought a smile to my grandfather’s face.
     Since then, we have continued to go down to my grandma’s house every weekend in Alberta, about an hour south of Richmond. She is very lonely now, so we do everything we can to make this transition easier for her. For her birthday, my stepdad, Calvin, and I surprised her with a 42” flat screen television in her living room when she returned from church. She loves it! Since then, she has been redecorating her living room and making little changes around the house, staying busy. This past Sunday, my family and I went to her house and had a small Christmas celebration, since Kevin, his wife and son were coming from California to stay with her for a few days. So we had a lovely dinner, gift exchange, photo opportunities and wonderful fun memories.
     Above anything in the world, family is the most important thing to me in my life. Love, dedication and care are the pieces of the backbone that keeps family strong. I am much honored to have this opportunity to place something into Theo’s Stocking. You have definitely inspired me, so if you could send me a couple paragraphs briefing me about your family and Theo, I can write a poem for you in dedication to your son. Also, if you would like, check out my book online on BarnesAndNoble.com (ISBN#: 978-1-4500-9257-9). Thanks again and God Bless.
---Steven A. Funes