Stories of kindness

I'm thinking about kindness for the next chapter of my new book. It seemed better to start it with stories of kindness I have experienced at different times in my life, rather than a dictionary definition, so here they are.

 

[source]Growing up overseas, my options for schooling were limited and I ended up spending five years at boarding school in the Himalayan mountains.

One of my house mothers was a gregarious, hilarious livewire with a heart of gold. Deb, together with her best friend Eunice, who was also a house mother at the school, are still loved by the many children (now adults) they looked after.

Something which made them so special was the fact that they never had a bad word to say about anyone. I never heard a word of gossip, criticism or slander come from their lips. They never rolled their eyes or gave knowing looks about anyone. And it wasn’t because they were trying to be holier than thou or self-righteous. It was because they genuinely looked for and found the good in everyone they met. They were truly kind.

Aunty Joan was another kind person in my life. Her children were all grown up but she always had time for me and my brothers – in fact for any children around at all. Her particular gift was making ordinary times into special occasions.

“Guess what I’ve got?,” she would say. “Come in the kitchen with me! We’re going to make Kool-Aid together,” or, “Do you know what day it is today? We are going to have a Valentine’s Day party! Come and help me put love hearts on the cake.”

My love for Aunty Joan was cemented when I was miserable at boarding in grade 8. Somehow she found out about it and, knowing that my parents were still away, she invited me away with them for the weekend. I felt special, cared for and thankful.

In my days at boarding school, long before the worldwide telecommunications boom, there was only one telephone on the campus. I suppose I could have used it, but I don’t know who I would have called because my parents didn’t have a phone where they were living. There was no Internet, no Facebook, no mobiles. Writing letters was the only way I could stay in contact with my family.

Mail was always delivered just before lunch and there was a great rush to the mailboxes to see who would receive a letter that day. (Clearly we all thought that letters were more important than food.)

Thanks to my mother, I was happy with an envelope in my hand three or four days a week, much to the envy of many of my friends who received a weekly letter if they were lucky. Mum’s letters were not long and sometimes she had to scratch around to find any news – I heard a lot about the doings of my dog – but they arrived faithfully several times a week,  every week, proof of her kindness.

Later, when we lived in Australia again and I left home to go to university, we had the luxury of telephones so there was no need for letters. Mum showed her kindness in other ways. Once when I got off the train and came home for the holidays I saw the fruit bowl filled to overflowing, and on top one perfect looking pineapple. My eyes lit up.

“Who’s that for?” I asked. “You don’t like those do you?”

“No,” she said. “I bought it for you.”

My mouth watered. I loved pineapple, almost to the point of obsession and I was touched that my mum had known, remembered and then bought me one just for myself.

 

What stories of kindness do you have from your life?