“All That Matters,” March 28, 2023

This column is from 2003:

“All that matters,” said Lewis Carroll, the English cleric who gave us Alice and her wonderful adventures, “is what we do for each other.”

I’m not sure if what we do for each other is all that matters. But I do know that it matters a lot. Sometimes it matters more than anything. And often, it’s the smallest things _ a touch, a smile, a few kind words _ that somehow seem to matter most.

Looking back over my life, I can list a thousand kindnesses, large and small, that were just what I needed, when I needed them most _ and I’ll always remember the people who sent them my way.

When I was a very little girl with a rather broken heart, my grandmother made for me a doll _ a magic doll that had the power to heal, she said, a doll that would tell me, if I listened closely, all the things I needed to hear, things that every child ought to be told. Her name _ both that of my grandmother and the doll, who still tells me, if I listen closely, things I need to hear _ was Grace.

When I was a senior in high school, praying for a miracle to pay my way to college, a deacon in my church made all the arrangements _ signed me up, paid the fees and drove me to the school _ to take a test that resulted in an all-expenses paid scholarship. His name was Mr. Christopher, but I mostly called him Sir.

Years ago, when my late husband was diagnosed with cancer, we had a chance to find out, as they say, not only who our real friends were (more than real, they were true) but also, how incredibly kind so-called strangers can be.

Readers of my column _ people we had never met _ wrote to say they were praying for us, and that their children were praying for our children.

So many casseroles showed up at our door I began to think I might never need to cook again.

There were countless offers to do errands or chores, whatever we needed, if only just someone to sit and listen. I can assure you, every kindness mattered.

But one of kindnesses that I remember best is this: A colleague of my husband’s _a fellow teacher he knew, but didn’t know well _ came to visit him after his first surgery. And then he kept coming back. He showed up most every day, come what may, on the best and the worst days of our lives _ for the last four years of my husband’s life.

It was gift to my husband, to our children, and especially to me. But I am certain it was also a gift to the giver. When we feel as if there’s nothing we can do, it helps just to do whatever we can.

The things we do for each other _ to prop each other up _ matter once in the doing, and always in memory. Having sat on both sides of that lovely fence _ and having received far more than I’ve given _ I have to say I like the giving side best.

To some, or maybe to all of us, nothing matters more, or feels better, than doing something to help someone in need. That’s just how we’re made. Sometimes, if you’re feeling low _thinking you don’t matter, wishing you could hide under the porch with the dogs_ maybe it’s be it’s because you’re not doing enough to help someone who needs you. Or maybe you’re doing too much. Only you can be the judge of that.

Often the hardest part of helping someone is knowing what to do. Recently, I learned that a dear friend was hurting for her child, a burden almost too much to bear. I wanted to help her carry that burden, but couldn’t think of a way. Then I remembered what someone had done for me once. And I offered to do the same for her.

It’s simple. When she needs a break from worrying about her child, she tells me and, for a while, I do the worrying for her, so she can take a break. We all have our gifts. I’m good at worrying. And slowly, after years of practice, I’m learning to turn worry into prayer.

Like candles on an altar,or fireflies on a lake, kindness makes dark days brighter and hard times easier to bear.
My friend says it helps her to know I’m praying for her child. It helps me, too. And it matters a lot to us both.


  1. Bonnie Martin says

    I’ve been following your columns for years, Sharon, and you have a very special gift with words that are alive and always touch my heart. I miss you in my local paper and I’m thankful and happy to see your columns here.

  2. Vanessa Kennedy says


  3. I’m so glad you are still sharing your writing even though it is no longer in publications. I love your thoughts and words and look forward to reading them every time you post. You are love and blessings to so many.

  4. CHope Hall says

    Thanks so much for this beautiful writing. It is much needed at this time in our life. Bless you & yours.

  5. Libby Nowell. (Now ell) says

    I’m praying for her child also. I would like to think I’m not the only one.
    Much love to her and her child.

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