My next door neighbor (and very dear friend) Donna called this morning from work, a hint of desperation in her voice. Her son had missed the school bus and all of their other family members who could have taken him were out of town or she couldn't get a hold of them. Would I be able to give him a ride to the local middle school? Sure! It only took 15 minutes, but I know it made a big difference to him and he thanked me as I dropped him off. His mom has done just as many sweet things for me. I can't count how many eggs and cups of sugar we've borrowed from her, or the happy afternoons my daughter has spent playing with her little girl. My next door neighbor on the other side brings us bags of clothes and piles of vintage books that her housecleaning clients give to her, and brings us plates of homemade Christmas cookies each year. Both of my next door neighbors take the time to chat with me, and they put their heart into it and not just their words. All that adds up after 15 years or so!
As I drove Gabriel to school this morning, I was also reminded of when I was a little girl in San Carlos, California nearly 40 years ago. I got sick at school while Mom was at work. She called the neighbor across the street, who brought me home to her house. I remember lying on Connie's couch and drinking ginger ale to make my tummy feel better. I have often thought of that with warm feelings. I felt cared for! The funny thing is that I have absolutely no other memories of this sweet lady. She's not someone our family did things with socially, to my knowledge, though maybe my mom had more contact with her than I did. To me, it was just one simple little kindness from a neighbor, but I remember. Another sweet lady, who lived a few blocks away from us then, holds a special place in my heart, too. You can read about her here: Hazel Waterman.
Small kindnesses count!
"Count that Day Lost"
by George Eliot
If you sit down at set of sun
And count the acts that you have done,
And, counting, find
One self-denying deed, one word
That eased the heart of him who heard,
One glance most kind
That fell like sunshine where it went --
Then you may count that day well spent.
But if, through all the livelong day,
You've cheered no heart, by yea or nay --
If, through it all
You've nothing done that you can trace
That brought the sunshine to one face--
No act most small
That helped some soul and nothing cost --
Then count that day as worse than lost.
What neighbors do you remember from your childhood or your early motherhood years? Who can you show kindness to this week?
P.S. You might also like my poem Your Kindness Gave Me Courage.