When Kindness Blooms

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic


Every month, when I was growing up, my family had what we called our kindness day.  We would volunteer either at a soup kitchen, or read to the blind, or clean someone's house or yard.  I was always a we-project.
 
Grandmother is the one who usually knew where we would be needed each month.  The entire day would be spent doing kind things.  One particular Sunday we had gone to church and had stopped at a store to pick up some last-minute items for our noon meal.  I spotted an old man with a garden tool in his hand, sitting on the curb.  He had on an old straw hat and was holding onto a donkey who also had on an old straw hat.  While the grown-ups were in the store, I ventured out to speak to the man.  He spoke only Spanish so I did not know what he was saying.  He kept putting his fingertips to his mouth and kissing them.  He was very nice and I had decided I liked him.  I touched the garden tool he had and he showed me how he used it, and even pulled up some weeds there on the vacant lot at the end of the parking lot.
 
I picked up a stick and drew a map showing him where our house was.  He kept nodding yes and then he took off.  I got back in the car to join my sister.  I made sure not to wake up Daddy since he had been left in charge.  We pulled up in the driveway and the little man was waiting on the front porch.I jumped out to greet him.  I was very excited to get my kindness day started.  Grandmother and Mommy were not sure of my selection.  Daddy just shook his head.  We took a plate full of food out to him on the back porch.  I did not understand why he could not come inside but I was just happy to help him.
 
We started to get ready for our kindness day.  I did not think much more about the little man until we got ready to leave.  I looked out the window and saw him pulling weeds and using his garden tool to move the dirt around in the flower beds.  Grandmother took him some water and tried to tell him that he did not need to do any more for us.  We thought we said goodbye.  Once he was supposedly gone, we all piled into the car and headed to a nursing home to help with the old people.  I always enjoyed this because some of the tenants would tell some of the wildest stories.  I think they were just happy to have someone to talk to.  I remember one little lady had a stuffed animal on her bed.  It looked almost like a real dog but it was stuffed.  When we're finally alone she whispered to me that someday they are going to kick her out.  I asked her, " Why?"  She covered her lips with her hand and whispered, that dog is dead.  No one knows it yet.  I had him for a long time so I am not telling anyone.  You keep my secret, like a good girl.  It was funny to me.  I did not tell her secret to anyone there, but I sure told everyone on the way home.  It made everyone laugh.
 
We had spent hours at the nursing home.  Each of us had different individuals we spent the day helping.  Mommy got the hardest one because she had to bathe a spunky old man.  Grandmother refused to touch him.  Mother told him he better settle down or he would end up with soap in his eyes.  It was funny.  Mommy was always a lady but sometimes her mother came out in her.  I heard her finally say, "Cool it, unless you want to be a hen right now."  It was amazing.  The man acted like he had no idea what could ever be a problem.
 
We were all very tired but happy we had spent our kindness day being so productive.  Daddy had read almost a whole book to an old woman.  Catcher In The Rye, I believe was the name of the book.  It was about baseball.  Her husband had been a baseball player.  She hugged herself and totally enjoyed it.  Daddy's deep voice and soft tone made it even better.
 
The ride home was full of us all sharing our day with each other.  We were all stunned when we pulled into the driveway.  All along the drive on either side were new flower beds full of flowers.  It was beautiful.  As it turns out the little man we helped earlier had been evicted from his place of business because the property had sold.  He had no place to go.  He was in the nursery business.  So he walked back and forth all day.  He transported and planted his entire stock in our yard and along our driveway.
 
There was a note explaining all this left on the front porch.  The man was so amazed at our kindness he wanted to share the feeling it gave him.  When we tried to find him we were told that he had come back to the back steps of a church between our house and the grocery.  He laid down his head and died.  He also thanked God for letting him know kindness again.
 
I was always amazed on kindness day.  This one was special.  This time kindness bloomed for years to come.  We were really surprised to find out he was almost 90 years old.  The work had not killed him but it did give him a way to say thank you once again.  I think that is the way he put it.


Submitted: July 16, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Texasjane. All rights reserved.

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