Top 10 Kindness Stories of 2012, Story #9 - Never Too Late
--by purplecola, posted Dec 24, 2013
Needless to say, I don't like the person I was back then. (I didn't like myself back then, either.) But with a lot of therapy and a lot of love, I have moved on and though I am financially poor, I find myself rich with the blessings and love of family and friends. I try each day to be the kindest person that I can, and to help wherever and whenever I can.
Recently, I helped a young friend with a bake sale and raffle to benefit a middle school student who is battling brain cancer. I didn't do it for the recognition, but because it just felt like the right thing to do. I don't tell you that now for recognition, either, but because it ties into what I am about to tell you:
At the bake sale, I was not surprised to see an old high school acquaintance come through the door. He was always very kind-- a soft-spoken, quiet kind of guy who was friendly to everyone he passed. There was no distinction-- he was kind even to grouchy, obnoxious drunks like me. Though we weren't the sort of friends who hung out together and shared secrets, I always thought he was one of the nicest people I knew.
Years passed. I left high school and all of its pain behind me. But one thing stuck: the kind, soft words of this gentle soul as he passed in the hallways or spoke to me in the classes we shared. Every now and again, his face would come to mind and I'd wonder how he was doing, what he was up to.
Though I found out that we both live in the same relatively small town, our paths just didn't cross... Until I had a bake sale to benefit Cookies For Kids' Cancer last April. His sister donated goods, and bought plenty herself before calling her brother and reminding him to come donate.
When Mr. X came through the door, I was not surprised. Instead, I kind of hoped he didn't recognize me. After all, what kind of memories of me would have stuck with him after all these years? What if he still thinks of me as that awful person that I once was? Luckily, he didn't recognize me. He simply spoke kindly to others, donated generously, and went on his way.
Then, a few days ago, he once again came to a benefit to generously donate money to someone in need. This time, I felt moved to introduce myself. We started to chat and before we knew it, we had caught up on nearly 30 years of our lives! That was when I knew what I had to do.
I told him that though he didn't realize it, he was very influential in my healing and becoming a much kinder, giving person. His quiet "hello"s, the shy smile and nod of his head, his kind and caring demeanor, are one of the biggest memories I carry with me from my high school years.
When I have gotten angry with the way the world is today, I've reminded myself of people like Mr. X. They do exist!
I told him all of this, and explained that, although he may not have realized it, he made a huge impact on someone's life. An impact that has lasted almost three decades.
I could tell that he was somewhat embarrassed, and he had no idea that he had been such an important part of my life.
"Every time I smile at a stranger," I told him. "it's a tribute to you, who taught me to smile. Every time I hold a door for someone, it's your kindness that compels me to do so. Every time I see someone who is angry or rude, I try to get a smile out of them. And it's all thanks to you," I shared.
He seemed to appreciate my words. I apologized if I made him uncomfortable, but they were things that needed to be said, things that should have been said nearly thirty years ago. But I think that, having learned that I moved this big strong "manly man" nearly to tears as he left that day, it's never too late to let someone know that their kindness mattered.
Thirty years after the fact, it was as good a day as any for my heart to express its gratitude as it was for him to hear it.
Thanks for sharing the story & contributing to building the belief that however bad the world is, kindness & kind people do exist!