Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Kindness Factor

Dr. Wendy Harpham MD is a cancer survivor and the creator of the Healthy Survivorship blog. She's written a post called "An Act of Kindness" where she describes an incident in the supermarket with a random stranger.

I have been the recipient of so many acts of kindness that I don't think I could even list them all here but here are a few that came to mind this morning.

1. My awesome Muslim neighbors downstairs who served as emergency babysitters on several occasions when I wasn't home in time to meet VanGoghGirl as she got off of the school bus. They have fed her, entertained her, educated her, kept a wary eye open when she was outside playing with the other kids. When my neighbor found out that VanGoghGirl could recognize and speak some Arabic, he gave her a gift that she treasures to this day: a beautiful, red hardback copy of the Qu'ran that featured the verses in Arabic on one side and the English translation of the words alongside it on the page. She could barely hold the heavy book at the time but it instantly became one of her favorite books.

2. My partner's two younger sisters who, though they have no children, volunteered to care for VanGoghGirl while I went into the hospital for my second surgery. I didn't even know them at the time. The German and I had been trying to figure out how we would handle the situation because we didn't want VanGoghGirl to miss school for an entire week. His sisters heard what was going on and they instantly swooped in and volunteered for the job. We dropped VanGoghGirl off at their house in the wee hours of the morning and, for an entire week, combed her hair, fed her, brought her back and forth to school, and put her to bed on time. What made this really touching to me was that they understood that if my surgery did not go well, they might have had to care for her for an even longer period of time. Still, they handled it so well that my daughter came away from it thinking that she'd been on vacation. She didn't want to leave afterwards!

3. The orthopedic oncologist over at Tulane Hospital who saw me as his patient at his private practice for three months for free. He was the only orth-oncologist in the city and my current doctors now tell me that the quality of care that I received from the beginning is what has probably played a big role in my positive outcome. That scares me in a way because I always think about those who didn't/don't receive the care that I did even though they need it too.

4. The pastor and co-worker at The German's job who, without ever meeting me, started having the people at his congregation pray for my healing at their weekly meetings.

The good in this world can never be completely extinguished, no matter how much evil there is that exists alongside of it. Feel free to tell me about some kindnesses that you have been the recipient of over the years.


Stentor said...

The one that always comes to my mind is the guy working the US Airways counter at LAX when I was on my way home from Sydney years ago. The travel agent screwed up, and I ended up landing at 6 AM rather than 6 PM, which meant I would have a 14 hour wait until my connecting flight. I explained my situation, the guy did some stuff on the computer, and told me my new connecting flight would leave in just 4 hours. Then he said "Normally we'd charge you $70 for this, but ... Happy Thanksgiving." (Which was good, because I wasn't sure if I had $70 on me.)

AnnMarie Kneebone said...

I decided to go to seminary unsure of how I would make ends meet. I was convinced, however, that going was the right thing for me to do.

Over the last 3.5 years I have received such kindnesses! These have helped me not only to survive sometimes, but also to have some pleasure in the midst of this intense out-of-my-comfort-zone experience.

These kindnesses include: Friends taking me out for dinner with regularity, being given 2 computers, a reloading Starbucks card, being able to return to my part-time job after a failed out-of-state internship, and unending emotional support from my family.

I am set to graduate this May. I don't know how I could have gotten through with out all the support.

Kindness is powerful stuff.

Anonymous said...

this was beautiful.

my favorite recent kindnesses come from the professor who gave me an assistantship to put me through grad school, and then gave me a departmental award out of his own pocket, and from a certain boy who's gone quite far out of his way to spend his few days off with me.