“Acts of Kindness,” Feb. 5, 2019

What are some kindnesses that have been done for you? Have you ever listed them? I did that once, years ago, on a late night flight from my home in California, to my hometown in South Carolina. It was the week before Christmas.

My sister had called that morning to tell me our mother’s battle with lung cancer was nearing the end and if I wanted to say goodbye, I needed to get there fast. She ended the call with, “Love you, Sissy. Hurry.’’

So I made calls to cancel work and commitments. Packed a bag. Told my husband and kids I’d try to be back for Christmas. Hugged them hard and hurried to catch the last flight out.

After takeoff, lights were dimmed and people started snoring. I felt empty and alone.

What do you do when you get lonely and there’s no one to hold you? How do you fill a hungry heart with gratitude?

As a child, when I felt lost and alone, I learned that it helped somehow to count my blessings. So on the plane that night, I took a notebook out of my purse and started listing all the kindnesses, large and small, that I’d been given in my lifetime.

Five hours later, when we landed, I closed the notebook, put it back in my purse and rushed to the hospital to say goodbye to my mother.

I wish I’d kept that notebook. I have no idea what became of it. But I can tell you this: Listing all those kindnesses helped me that night and in the days ahead to do the things I needed to do and be the daughter I wanted to be.

Kindness is great medicine. It heals and empowers and fills an empty heart. It’s a gift, once and for always. Even if you lose the notebook you listed it in.

Five hours is a long time to list blessings, especially on paper. Usually, I do it in my head for a few minutes, taken as needed, like aspirin for a headache. Sometimes, I don’t even need to try to remember them. They just come to me, like angels, out of nowhere.

Last night, for example. It was a cold and stormy evening, rain pouring, wind howling. My toes felt like icicles. So I wrapped my feet in a heating pad, got in bed and snuggled down.

As my feet began to thaw, I suddenly recalled being 7 years old in Mrs. Harrison’s second grade class. That morning, I’d worn my new shoes to school — beaded leather moccasins my dad bought for two dollars at a gift shop in Cherokee, N.C.

I loved those moccasins. Especially the beads. I couldn’t stop looking at them. But when I stepped off the bus, I sank ankle-deep into a puddle and sloshed all the way into class.

Mrs. Harrison saw my tracks, but didn’t embarrass me about it. While my classmates hung coats and sharpened pencils, she whispered in my ear, “Give me those shoes and warm your feet on the floor.”

The school had radiant heat in the flooring and soon my bare feet were toasty. Mrs. Harrison dabbed the moccasins with a rag and set them on the floor to dry. At noon, when we lined up to go lunch, she handed them back to me dry as a bone.

“Thank you, ma’am,” I said, “sorry to trouble you.”

She laughed, patting my head. “No trouble!” she said. “We all hit a puddle now and then!”

That was it. We never spoke of it again. It was just one of the many kindnesses she poured out on me and my classmates and countless other lucky children over the years.

I don’t know if she remembered it. But I do. It warmed my feet for a few blessed hours. But it has warmed my heart for a lifetime.

What’s on your kindness list?

Someday, maybe, I’ll rewrite my list starting with the Biblical admonition: “To whom much is given, much will be required.”

Acts of kindness aren’t always big things. Often, they are small and seemingly insignificant, like plastic beads on a pair of two dollar moccasins.

But they become beautiful beyond all singing of it if they are remembered with gratitude and passed along with grace from one needy soul to another.

 

Comments

  1. Sandra Evanoff says:

    Thank you for your wonderful columns. I clip and save most all of them. Have been frantically looking for the one you wrote about having to put a dog down. I have shared this with several people who have lost their pet. Now it can’t be found when it’s really needed for my daughter who had to make the heartbreaking decision for her border collie. Is there anywhere I can find a copy?

  2. Shirley M Franklin says:

    Sharon, Thank you so much for your wonderful columns. I know I can get them on your web site, but my sister cuts them out of the newspaper each week and mails them to me in a greeting card along with “lunch” money. We are 1200+ miles apart, but she would treat me to lunch at least once a week if we lived close. This in itself is a wonderful act of kindness.
    But, the act of kindness that popped into my head as I read this blog, is what my sixth grade teacher wrote in my autograph book: “May you always be as happy as your smile makes me”. It has stayed with me all these years (I am now 84 years old). I have not always been that happy, but God has given me a bright smile which appears as needed whether I am happy or sad.
    I look forward to my sister’s card containing your column every week. It brings me joy and brings me closer to my dear sister.
    Thank you for brightening our weeks.

  3. Lin John says:

    CONFIRMATION! Thank you Mrs. Randall for this confirmation. The Acts of Random club at my school is planning a 100 Acts of Kindness Challenge in a few days. I’m hoping faculty and staff will post acts of kindness given AND received on a large banner. After reading your timely article our initiative is confirmed

  4. Patricia says:

    I always make sure I read your column in the Dothan Eagle on Sunday. Sometimes I skip all the news and go straight to you. Whatever you have written about always touches something in my life whether it is current or happened years ago. I feel like I’ve known you forever and I always feel better about things after I’ve spent that time with you, folded the newspaper and pass it on to my neighbor to read. Thank you for being you and sharing your gift with all of us.

  5. Kate Sciacca says:

    Too many kindnesses and blessings to count 😀. But today’s came from Mother Nature… seven inches of fresh, powdery blizzard snow… and I’m warm inside reading your delightful column and sipping tea. Now there’s a great blessing- thank you.

  6. Rusty says:

    Mrs. Randall, this column inspired this.

    Valentine’s Day is actually my favorite holiday. I like it better than Christmas or Thanksgiving or any of the other biggies.

    Why you ask? Well partially because it speaks to my romantic side. The side that wishes everyone, “Lived Happily Ever After.”

    It is not my favorite because of my luck in the dating and relationship realm. (Those who know me, know I’m an absolute failure.) There has never been a romantic candlelight dinner for two for me on February 14th.

    I like it because Valentine’s Day to me represents sharing love. Not just romantic love, but the love friends and family have for one another.

    These are the people that you long to be around, go to when your down and cannot imagine living without.

    So this Valentine’s Day I would encourage you to let those people know you love them. Express and share your love in some way. Buy chocolates or roses but make sure you include a note. A note telling that someone why they are special to you.

    And you might add a sentiment that I always do. “May you always feel loved.”

  7. Phyllis says:

    Thank you for reminding us of all the little things that make up our lives and how important they are. You are a real blessing to me.

  8. Jim Barrows says:

    My wife is always doing nice things for me. It’s not that she expects anything in return. Her parents just raised her to be nice and I’ve been lucky enough to receive the fruits of their labor for the past 50 years.

  9. Mary Harrington says:

    Sharon Randall l love you. I love how you bring everything full circle, how you make me appreciate the blessings bestowed on me by my Saviour Jesus Christ,how you reel me in on what is important. Thank you💖

  10. Michelle says:

    This is the second piece I’ve read of yours. I picked up a paper while waiting for my oil change on my car. The first one was named “Reading, writing and life”. I enjoyed them both very much. I love reading interesting and honest writers. I grew up pre-internet and use to read the newspaper front to back daily. I just love to read interesting writers! Since I’ve changed over to the internet I’ve lost a lot of good writers somehow I’ve not read anything from you before. I’m really looking forward to your work and thank you for all your writing, it’s truly a gift!

  11. Kacey says:

    You are such a beautiful, bright light.
    Thank you for continuously inspiring me.

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