the kindness of strangers.

when i was a kid, my dad used to load his truck up with food from our store and take it to the orchards for the men picking apples. i would sit alongside, as he drove like a maniac through the trees – the windshield being pelted by cortlands, macs and spys. when we’d arrive, he’d crank up the elvis and stevie wonder from under the cap of the truck. we’d dance and dad would laugh and i’d learn slang from trinidad and jamaica. one time he invited 8 of the men to come for thanksgiving dinner. there wasn’t nearly enough food to go around, but it didn’t seem to matter.

i don’t know how or why he started his annual treks to the orchards but he absolutely loved doing it. a few years ago, mom received a letter addressed only to ‘mr ed, meaford.’ dad’s been dead for over 20 years but the post office knew exactly who it was for. it was a note from one of the men. he wanted to thank dad for everything he’d done for all the people who left their families to come to a sleepy little town to pick apples. he never forgot dad and he hoped dad was well.

a note of thanks that shows kindness rules.

one day last summer the girls and i spent the afternoon wandering the downtown streets of our beloved city. we covered a lot of ground. ossington to queen, over to trinity bellwoods, up to graffiti alley, across to the flower market, and on to the best burger joint in town. at the end of the day, when we collapsed on the couch, i asked the girls to tell me what their favourite part was. lola very simply said, “when you helped that old lady who slipped and fell and carried that woman’s basket up the stairs at the subway.” i looked at izzie and she joined in, “ya, i liked that part too.” i thought my heart was going to bust out of my chest. a jam-packed day full of activities, and that’s what they remember? it didn’t mean a thing to me, but almost everything to them.

a look of love that says kindness works.

right after mom died, i got an email from a stranger. he was halfway around the world but he saw my post about mom’s passing and he wanted me to know that he understood my pain. he too knew grief and let me know that it was normal to feel different, that i would never be the person i was, but that eventually, things would be ok. i was a complete crumpled mess when i got it and a lot of the words seemed totally blurry, but those particular parts stood out immensely. it wasn’t anything that my closest friends hadn’t already said to me, but the fact that he took the time to connect to me and let me know that he had been where i was and that it was alright, made me feel a little less alone. in fact, i got dressed that day because of him.

a letter of compassion that proves kindness helps.

i always tell the girls that reading and writing are certainly important but being a good and empathetic person is something i want them to be great at. one small kind gesture can change a stranger’s whole day, week or maybe even their life. give it a go. it doesn’t cost a thing.

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