The youth group leader who took the time to reach out for a chat after a group of friends dropped me like a hot potato. The woman who hired me to serve and clean up after her glorious parties…always giving me an extra twenty, that she called “only for fun money”. The college professor who pointed out my clavicles as I took my humiliating turn modeling for sculpture day, these, see these, these are beauty. A friend taking the time to create two wedding cake toppers (he wasn’t pleased with the first), and drive them to Queens from Philadelphia, and then stayed for the day making pastel colored almond pouch giveaways. A mom with two babies of her own cooking a weeks worth of food for us so we could enjoy our newborn. These are some of the people who quietly changed my life with their kindness…kindness that still touches my soul 20, 30, 40 years later. Swoon.
My kids were non-traditional learners, working hard for every grade, using tricks to do what came easily to others. People would make remarks like YOUR kids get services? Umm, yup, even the most talented artist might need glasses…there is nothing wrong with receiving help. Anyway. Anyone who has been to a 504 or IEP meeting knows it is like getting naked in Grand Central Station…at rush hour. The team (teachers, counselors, education advocates, and parents) sit together and review the child’s strengths and weaknesses, and make a plan. Raw. Greg and I would hold hands and listen…these people really knew our kids, they cared, they wanted them to succeeded. Then it would be our turn…and every single time it went like this…We. We. Um. Okay, I am going to cry, but it is not a sad cry, I am just so overwhelmed and grateful…thank you for caring about our kid…and the water works would begin. After the first few meetings the counselors would show up with “The Nemec Tissues”. Kindness.
Recently, on the last hill of my walk…I noticed a car slowing down. I have the glorious ability to turn as red as a tomato when exercising, strangers have pulled over in concern for my wellbeing. Ready to respond with No, thanks, I am fine, just trying to lower my BMI! Thank you!…my friend popped open her window. This rock of a woman, who it seems can not be ruffled, always a voice of reason and calm…started crying and launched into a “thank you for helping my kid soliloquy”…water streaming down her face. I stand listening, thankful for her words, grateful for our chance meeting, wishing I could offer her one of “The Nemec Tissues”, and thrilled that some very small acts of kindness mattered so much to her and her child.
This week has been rough, it seems like people are itching to be divided, using both the most ridiculous and most devastating reasons to stay on “their sides”. The lack of kindness people show when it is needed most saddens me…so I have been thinking back, back to those who have changed my life with gracious bits of goodness. To this day, they are proof, that small acts of kindness…really count.