I recently went to a restaurant to buy a pie for a party. As I walked up the steps and opened the door, I saw a hunched-over old man with a cane walking toward me carrying a handled bag full of things he had just purchased there. I stepped back and opened the door widely so that he could pass through easily. As he did so, he stopped and said to me, "Wait!" He set down the bag, reached into one of his pants pockets, and retrieved a tiny plastic keychain flashlight still in its original plastic wrapping. He handed it to me and said, "Take this. I like to give things to people who have done something for me." I thanked him and told him he was very welcome. I was almost speechless as I watched this old man walk off to his car. I added his token to ... Read Full Story >>
He almost didn't see the old lady, stranded on the side of the road, but even in the dim light of day, he could see she needed help. So he pulled up in front of her Mercedes and got out. His Pontiac was still sputtering when he approached her. Even with the smile on his face, she was worried. No one had stopped to help for the last hour or so. Was he going to hurt her? He didn't look safe; he looked poor and hungry. He could see that she was frightened, standing out there in the cold. He knew how she felt. It was that chill which only fear can put in you. He said, "I'm here to help you, ma'am. Why don't you wait in the car where it's warm? By the way, my name is Bryan Anderson." Well, all she had was a flat tire, but for an old ... Read Full Story >>
I have a friend who I was put into contact with through my Narrative Therapist. She is also unwell and under going huge hardships. We live in different countries, and our situations are quite different from one another. But despite this, we find we can connect to each others hearts through a few compassionate words. Each day, we send each other something to 'lift' one another up. Whether it be the lyrics to an inspirational song, a capturing quote, or just some thoughtful, comforting words. The impact this has on me is incredible. And it works two ways- the fact that I've made her feel good, makes me feel good inside, and the fact that she's made me feel good, makes her feel good. I guess I'm trying to say- a compassionate heart is the most priceless thing in the world. And to be compassionate, you do not need to 'know', you need not understand, ... Read Full Story >>
Last week I went with my boyfriend to visit the first town that he lived in -- a very small town along the Oregon Coast, when he moved from Korea to United States as a child. We went to the skate park that he had helped the city build as a teenager. While we were there, there was a 10 years old boy who really took a liking to my boyfriend. For some reason, they just got along. Maybe because he was older and skating, it gave the kid someone to look up to. After they rolled around on the crappy cement for an hour or so, we were getting ready to leave. My boyfriend noticed that this boy's skateboard was in very bad shape. So as we said our goodbye he handed the kid his skateboard, which was pretty much brand new and expensive. With that childlike awe, the 10-year-old ... Read Full Story >>
This week I felt I wanted to treat myself to some ‘beautician treatment’. I am house bound, so knew that I’d have to pay for the beautician to travel to our place, but that was okay by me, after all this was a treat. That day I had an appointment made, and was expecting at least a 2 week wait, but to my surprise, was told she’d be here at 3:30 that same day. She came by, and spent an hour with me, when she was finished, I handed her $50; $30 for treatment, $20 for petrol and traveling time. She turned to me, and handed me back the $20 and said ‘don’t worry about the travel’. I am unable to talk, so was left to convey my gratefulness and appreciation with my eyes and a warm smile. She politely left, smiling, but I didn’t feel satisfied. Did she really know how grateful I was ... Read Full Story >>
I am a single mother of a darling 6 year old girl, Haley. With a six year old come a lot of questions! Who is that? What are they doing? Why? Where...and on and on. I love her questions! Sometimes I do not have an answer, sometimes we brainstorm the possibilities of what may be together. Children are very, very observant and have excellent memories! One example that comes to mind is right around Christmas last year. We were heading out to her Grandma's house -- an hour drive, so lots of time for chatting! We were waiting to get on the freeway when she noticed a homeless man, no sign in hand. "Mom, is that man homeless," she asked. I told her I believed he was. We got on the freeway and away we went. She was pretty quiet in the back on they way there. We spent a ... Read Full Story >>
Last week I decided I would choose one thing to be kind about and really focus on achieving that goal. That goal was to allow anyone who wished to, go ahead of me -- putting others' needs first before my own, no matter what. And let me tell you, this was not easy. Especially driving :) But true to my word I let others go before myself. Drivers who needed to merge were, with a smile and a wave, allowed in front of me (much to the distress of the people behind me -- so I guess I didn't really make their day). In the supermarket I smiled genuinely as I asked the women behind me if they would like to go ahead, getting looks that ranged from sheer astonishment to harried gratitude to those that made me feel they were thinking I was a few sandwiches short of a picnic! But ... Read Full Story >>
Last week, while visiting my Dad in Washington State with my daughter, we went to a local restaurant for a late dinner. When our host seated us, my dad asked him if there were any military having a meal in the establishment. The host said there was a soldier eating dinner with his friend. My dad told the host to tell the soldier and his friend that their dinner was paid for and that we should get dessert too! He also stated that he did not want to be identified as the benefactor. Our waitress, who witnessed this as well, commented on my dad's thoughtful "thank you" to this soldier, saying that she hadn't seen anything more profound. At a local college, she was an Opera Major and as her humble way to thank my Dad, she performed a small piece of "The Pearl Fisherman." Her voice brought me to tears ... Read Full Story >>
Last week, I was shopping for groceries at the local store. The specialty of the store is free stands where customers are given samples of new products.
Being an ice-cream lover, I gravitated towards the free ice-cream stand and the clerk in-charge gave me a big smile saying "You are lucky! This is really popular and this is the last cone I have to give away!"
I was happy too, until I turned around to see a toddler craning her neck up to see my cone with one hand pulling her Mom's dress. Disappointment was written all over her face. Apparently, Mom had just explained the idea called 'no more' to her.
I knelt down, extended the cone and asked if she'd like to have it. Four faces lit up all at-once! And that tasted better than ice-cream :)
[ One of my favorite stories from Paulo Coelho’s 'Like the Flowing River', in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro.]
My wife and I met her on the corner of Rua Constante Ramos in Copacbana. She was about sixty years old, sitting in a wheelchair, lost in the crowd. My wife offered to help her and the woman accepted the offer, asking us to take her to Rua Santa Clara.
There were a few plastic bags hanging from the back of the wheelchair. On the way, she told us that they contained all her belongings. She slept in shop doorways and lived off handouts.
We reached the place where she wanted to go. Other beggars were gathered there. The woman took out two packets of long-life milk from one of the plastic bags and gave it to the other members of the group.
“People are charitable to me, and so I must be charitable to others,” she said.
Last week, I took my children to a restaurant. My six-year-old son asked if he could say grace. As we bowed our heads he said, "God is good, God is great. Thank you for the food, and I would even thank you more if Mom gets us ice cream for dessert. And Liberty and justice for all! Amen!" Along with the laughter from the other customers nearby, I heard a woman remark, "That's what's wrong with this country. Kids today don't even know how to pray. Asking God for ice cream! Why, I never!" Hearing this, my son burst into tears and asked me, "Did I do it wrong? Is God mad at me?" As I held him and assured him that he had done a terrific job, and God was certainly not mad at him, an elderly gentleman approached the table. He winked at my son and said, "I happen to know that God thought that was a great ... Read Full Story >>
Nearly 6 years ago, a little boy was brought to me to look after in my day care. He was a mere two days old. After being with me for some 3 months, we realized that the "Mother" has disappeared, leaving this helpless little boy.
I could not get it over my heart to leave this child to his own defenses and decided to adopt him. We come from different backgrounds and cultures, but I was will to endure everything in order to love this child unconditionally.
I adopted him and am proud to say that he is today a real blessing in my life!
This is a true story written from a child's perspective by my dear, 68 year old mother, a post war/depression child living in Newfoundland, Canada at the time this happened! She will be reading this to the children and congregation at her church over the Christmas season. ---- Every year at this time I remember a Christmas when I was 8 years old. It is the one memory of Christmas that has stayed with me all my life. My children always loved hearing it. I grew up in a small community in Newfoundland, with the sea right at our door. My father was a sea captain and was away from home most of the year, but he was always home for Christmas. I remember the excitement bubbling up inside me -- it would soon be Christmas and Dad would be home for at least 3 months. I don't know which excited me most. Everything would ... Read Full Story >>
My husband died in 1998 and the following year found me incredibly depressed, desperately lonely and totally overwhelmed. I was living over 2,000 miles from my family, and his family had disappeared as if I had the plague. My sister and my friends had been trying to get me to sell and move for several months and a close friend invited to move to the town where she lived. Though I knew I should sell (I couldn't keep the place up), it was impossible for me to consider, as there was no way I could handle the mortgage until it sold, and also pay for an apartment. My friend invited me into her home, to live there with her, free of charge. She has a large, beautiful home, and though I seriously considered it, I didn't want to "put her out" or become a burden, and told her it could take months or even years to sell ... Read Full Story >>
I was working in Bangladesh a month or two ago and I ended up staying for much longer than anticipated. By the time I left, everyone at the hotel knew who I was because I had handed out at least 50 business cards. I told many of the staff about my plans of providing electricity and clean purified water to rural villages who were located too far from accessing these basic necessities. The morning before I left there was a small brown envelope that had been slid under my door. I opened it and inside I found one of my business cards. On the back was written "blessings" and there were 4 one dollar bills and a few hundred "Taka" which added up to around a total of $12. I can imagine that it was a poor hotel staffer that was happy about my willingness to help the less fortunate in ... Read Full Story >>
This past Christmas is the first one ever that I feared we may not be able to bring Santa to our little ones who are 5 and 3. I tried not to get down or focus too negatively on it; I have a deep knowing that things always work out somehow and I also did not want to perpetuate a feeling of "lack" in our lives. In late November, a memo came home from my son's school requesting anyone who felt they needed help with Christmas. People who had children under 12 were asked to call the phone number at a local outreach center. So, almost reluctantly, I called and was told to come to a local church the following day. I had to bring my daughter with me and I was feeling rather sheepish and a bit sorrowful. The happy folks, all volunteers filling monthly supplies for a needy food pantry, were smiling and welcoming. An elderly man gave ... Read Full Story >>
I met my husband (my 2nd) back in 1997 at a colleague's wedding. We immediately hit it off and saw each other regularly. I told him all about my having IIH, and what it involved as well as the worst case scenario, which is blindness. I was also at the time a single parent to an 8 year old daughter. Although in some ways we were total opposites, we shared the same humour, values and ideas, and within a year we were married. It was the most fantastic day, and I don't know who cried more, myself or my husband. He became a fantastic husband, and father to my daughter (the only one she's ever known), and life was good to us. Two years on, due to my IH I lost my peripheral vision and depth perception. After having an Lp shunt to prevent total blindness, my mobility was severely affected, as the ... Read Full Story >>
After I married, we honeymooned in Hawaii. Both of us enjoyed our ten day stay-- the islands are gorgeous, the people loving, gracious and spiritual, the sunrises/sunsets one more spectacular then the next, the rainbows miraculously appearing each afternoon after a brief rain and the flowers so brightyly colored and diverse. What a paradise! We returned to one restaurant several times in Maui because I loved the buffet, the service, the outdoor tables where I could feed the birds, the ocean view and it was close to our hotel. I befriended a waitress who symbolized the Hawaiin people to me: she was plump, middle-aged, super friendly, greeting us each time with a huge, warm smile, twinkling eyes, a deep booming laugh and a hug. She was quite chatty and so am I so we bonded instantly. She shared some of her life stories with us, which was so sad: hubby ... Read Full Story >>
My friend had mentioned the other day that her father had a lot of children's toys that he was looking to give away. She knew that i have a three-year-old daughter so she thought of me first. I told her I would love it if I could get some nice things for my daughter, which I wouldn't otherwise have been able to afford. When I met her father, he began to explain that he was poor once too and that he would hate to throw away things that can be very useful. At first, he thought of taking everything to the Salvation Army but then he decided to see if anyone he knew could use these things first. Before he showed me what he was giving away, I thought the toys would be mostly lego's or lincoln log's or things like that. When he was showing me around I saw a bed, a slide, a kitchen set and many other things that just ... Read Full Story >>
I went to a Catholic Mission Hospital in Ghana one day, to visit a friend who was a Priest, and medical doctor but was off duty then. On reaching at the hospital gate, there was this woman who seemed to have traveled from the far away village to send her sick girl to the hospital. And the girl was actually dying, so pile, with bulged eyes, and flies were all over her body. Also, the mother of this girl who looked so shabbily and tattered could not do anything but to see her poor girl dying on her own laps, since the nurses on duty would not offer her the necessary help, perhaps due to her poverty. From the hospital gate, the shouts for help from this poor woman drew my attention, so I approached her, took the sick girl from her laps and sent her straight to the consulting room to see ... Read Full Story >>
It was the early 1990s. During the bleak years of the Bosnian war, the Serbian Army surrounded the city seeking it's surrender and the expulsion of all non-Serbians. The residents, with a minimal volunteer and civilian militia, were unorganized but mounted a spectacularly brave defense. From around the world, many people converged to help them. It was an almost magnetic pull to serve a valiant and vulnerable expression of our human experience. I was one amongst those who came. Fueled by Hemingway and feeling much like the Spanish Civil War, international brigade volunteers were driving ambulances around town. And yet it was resident foreigners who were causing the most distress in their hurry to leave the besieged city. The strong passports allowed most to escape the darkest days, and to sojourn on the Dalmation coast filling their memoirs with a few notes, before going home. A few of us, though, stayed during ... Read Full Story >>
Before he became president, Abraham Lincoln spent twenty years as an unsuccessful Illinois lawyer -- at least he was unsuccessful in financial terms. But when you measure the good he did, he was very rich indeed. Legends are often untrue, but Lincoln was the real thing. During his years as a lawyer, there were hundreds of documented examples of his kindness, honesty and decency. For example, Lincoln didn't like to charge people much who were as poor as he was. Once a man sent him twenty-five dollars, but Lincoln sent him back ten of it, saying he was being too generous. He was known at times to convince his clients to settle their issue out of court, saving them a lot of money and earning himself nothing. An old woman in dire poverty, the widow of a Revolutionary soldier, was charged $200 for getting her $400 pension. Lincoln sued the pension agent ... Read Full Story >>
I try not to be biased, but I had my doubts about hiring Stevie. His placement counselor assured me that he would be a good, reliable busboy. But I had never had a mentally handicapped employee and wasn't sure I wanted one. I wasn't sure how my customers would react to Stevie. He was short, a little dumpy with the smooth facial features and thick-tongued speech of Downs Syndrome. I wasn't worried about most of my trucker customers because truckers don't generally care who buses tables as long as the meatloaf platter is good and the pies are homemade. The four-wheeler drivers were the ones who concerned me; the mouthy college kids traveling to school; the yuppie snobs who secretly polish their silverware with their napkins for fear of catching some dreaded "truck stop germ" the pairs of white-shirted business men on expense accounts who think every truck stop waitress wants to ... Read Full Story >>
I placed Ted's ashes in the ocean and watched as they made a rainbow before dissolving into the sea. In my hand was an envelope with my name on it. I reflected on my friendship with Old Ted, over the past two years prior to his death. It was a sunny mid-day in Tucson. I had been attending a teaching and we were on lunch break. I was the first to arrive at the Furrs restaurant. I was getting out of my car when I saw him. An elderly man in his eighties, thin, tall, and walked with the gait of someone who knew how to put many miles behind them in a day. He came up to me and said, "I'm hungry can you feed me?" "Of course." I said. He looked me over, I was dressed in my red and yellow monks robes. "What are you?" he asked quite matter ... Read Full Story >>
When my sister got married some time back, we were all excited. After her honeymoon she invited me over to her house to help her unwrap the gifts and send some thank you notes to all the people that came to the wedding party. As a side note, my sister works at Standard Bank in Malawi. Going through the gifts, we came across this precious exotic ice bucket in silver and gold. I had never seen such a beautiful ice bucket. Inside it was a note that read, "When I heard you were getting married, I asked around for the details and somehow managed to get here. You might not know me but I know you. I am a regular customer at Standard Bank and you helped me a lot when I was applying for a loan. I will never forget what you did, God bless you. -- Anonymous" When I showed my sister the note, she couldn't remember who the person ... Read Full Story >>
I often walk from work (near Pier 39 in San Francisco) to the Embarcadero BART station, where I catch a train back to the East Bay. Several times, I passed a gentleman who I presumed was homeless. He had a lot of his possessions tied down to his bike and held a cardboard sign that said he was a vet who doesn't drink or do drugs, but would appreciate anything that could be given. He usually has headphones on and is listening to the radio. He is always minding his own business, often reading as well. I've never seen him actively "panhandling." Several times, while I was passing him, I realized I had some food with me, so I turned around and offered him that food (most recently, a blueberry muffin). He took off his headphones, and said "Umm, blueberry muffins are my favorite!" with a big smile and a gleam in his eye. ... Read Full Story >>
Sometimes I am witness to acts of selfless generosity that are nearly invisible and done with no thought that anyone would see them other than the person to whom the act is directed. Here's an example.It comes from our little artist breakfast group that we host every week. Taya, who is a remarkable artist, is moving to New Mexico. She's 75 and has decided she wants to start a new chapter in her life. So she has just completed the purchase of a property in a tiny community in New Mexico where she knows no one. She is leaving Oakland where she has lived for perhaps 25 or 30 years and, of course, leaving her circle of friends. This in itself is astonishing. One of our group, Edythe, had mentioned [only mentioned] how she is fond of the beauty of coins, not for their monetary value, but just for their beauty. This morning ... Read Full Story >>
It had been a long, hot August day. We'd driven over six hundred miles and it was nearing 11 pm as we entered Kingman, Arizona. We pulled off and picked a motel. Much to my surprise, it being mid-week, the deskman informed me they were full. Next place, same story. This time, I asked the clerk for suggestions. "Try the Hampton Inn." At the Hampton we were greeted with, "We're booked. Sorry." "What's going on?" I asked. "Is there some kind of convention in town?" "A tour bus just pulled in with 60 people," he said. "Plus lots of people are heading up to the Grand Canyon. It's an unusual evening. You might try the Best Western. I think they had one room left about an hour ago." We tried the Best Western. No luck. By that time, we'd traveled to the west end of ... Read Full Story >>
A few months ago I decided to take my daughter on a little fun weekend trip to Melbourne (Australia). We enjoyed a beautiful day at St Kilda beach and, after hours of walking around, decided to sit down on a bench near Lunar Park to have a little rest. We noticed a duffle bag behind a bush but there was no one around so we assumed it must have been stolen and dumped behind the bush. There were clothes, books, university documents and lots of other bits and pieces in the bag. We found a wallet with some cards and ID but no cash. The bag belonged to an 18-year-old girl. She had put a tag on her bag with her address and phone number on it, so I called to let the owner know I'd found her bag and arrange some way to return it to her. The girl's mother ... Read Full Story >>
Anymore, it seems like all we ever hear about are the horrible things people do to others. I can't even turn on the news at night (we get Kansas City, Mo. news) without hearing of at least 3 people who were shot and killed plus numerous other acts of violence. Also, with families everywhere pinching pennies everywhere they can, not everyone is feeling as generous as they normally would be. But I found out that even in tough times, people can do simple things that might greatly improve a stranger's day. Not long ago, I was having one of those end of the week, everything fall apart, rotten days. I had a hard day at work, my week didn't go well and problems just kept popping up everywhere. Things broke or quit, unexpected bills came in and I was struggling to keep from loosing my cool from all the stress. Then ... Read Full Story >>