Kindness Knows No Shame

Kindness Knows No Shame is from the tune, As, from Songs In The Key of Life by Stevie Wonder. It’s a poetic passage that resonates every time I hear it. I remind myself of it often when someone misinterprets something I do to be nice.

It took a while before I understood that some people can’t accept goodwill, it makes them, for whatever reason, uncomfortable. Then it hit me… I was just like that, way back when.

A Frenchman, who was the maitre d’ of a bistro I frequented, gave me a Tiffany pen for my birthday. He was only an acquaintance but he did know that I liked to write so I believe the gesture came simply from that. I remember how badly I behaved when he gave it to me wrapped so elegantly in that famous ice blue box. Grace was nowhere to be found since I actually got angry and gave it back.

How’s that for good manners?

Thirty years later I had a similar experience with a woman who I gave a gift to. She was a new friend, but one I liked an awful lot that I fussed over I gather, a bit too much. One of my favorite gifts to give, is an initialed L. L. Bean Boat and Tote with goodies tucked inside which is what I left with her doorman.

What kind of goodies? Fancy soap, socks, good chocolate…things that, from paying attention to a person, I’d know instinctively what they’d like.

I waited to hear from her but never did. Finally, thinking she didn’t receive it, I called. “Oh no, I got it,” she said, hurrying me off the phone. “You really shouldn’t have done that Susannah, it was far too much.” She hung up so fast I couldn’t even respond. Not only that, but I never heard from her again. Not one to chase a friendship, I sadly let it go until months later when I ran into her at the library.

“Did I offend you in some way?” I asked all set to apologize.

“Well, no but I don’t do well with gifts,” she said, “and yours was nicer than my husband’s or my daughter’s. Don’t you find that odd?”

“No, I don’t,” I truthfully said. “I always give nice presents, those are the kind I like to get, plus you deserved one.” She mumbled a few more forced pleasantries and that was that, but our friendship was never resuscitated.

When I got that lovely silver pen I had the same response that she had. I didn’t think I deserved something quite so nice especially from a person I hardly knew. In those days I rarely received a gift from anyone. My own mother would often forget my birthday so why shouldn’t everyone else? It was a strain of self-pity set off by the absence of self-worth.

We don’t think we count so we need to make sure that no one else thinks so either.

I’m so grateful I’m not like that anymore. The friends I have today are very generous to me and allow me to be the same toward them.

When I think of that woman who no longer talks to me, I genuinely feel for her. I also feel for that young girl in 1973 who didn’t think she deserved someone going out of their way to pay attention to who she really was…a writer, though more closeted back then and unbeknownst to her, in desperate need of being seen.

Just as time knew to move on from the beginning…

and the seasons always know when to change.

just as kindness knows no shame

just know through all your joy and pain…

that I’ll be loving you always.             get-attachment-1

How’s that for a picture…SB

About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Thanks.
This entry was posted in Family, friendship, Gratitude, humor, Love, New York City, Uncategorized, Women and men, writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Kindness Knows No Shame

  1. Wow! I have always had an issue receiving gifts, especially from people who claimed to like me in some way. My ex-husband would always buy me gifts, after he was out cheating his ass off. Of course I didn’t put that puzzle together until it was too late. So now if someone starts showering me with gifts I am automatically suspicious.


    • First of all, let’s stone your ex-husband. How painful that must have been. I totally get the suspicious part though, but you are such a nice, thoughtful Beagle loving person, could you just act as if you love receiving gifts from people? After a while it will just come naturally. I know instinctively that you deserve them.


  2. Vasca says:

    My youngest brother was the sweetest, kindest person. He loved giving gifts to others. Once, when he was in elementary school he took some of my sister’s junk jewelry to school and gave it away. When he had to retrieve all of it? He was physically ill. Much later in life he was diagnosed as Bi-Polar among other things. He died much too young…very sadly.
    I have many of the gifts he gave me…each one is cherished. One is a beautiful, large mirror he made for me…painstakingly, over a long period of time. It has a special place in our home.
    “The true essence of humankind is kindness. There are other qualities which come from education or knowledge, but it is essential, if one wishes to be a genuine human being and impart satisfying meaning to one’s existence, to have a good heart.” Tenzin Gyatso
    Kindness is a wonderful thing…I love it.


  3. Rob says:

    It’s an interesting subject. I think I’d feel uneasy accepting a gift from someone who I hadn’t ever considered giving one to. That is not to say that I think of gifts in a quid pro quo manner but rather that gift-giving or non-gift-giving defines a relationship. Any broach of the boundaries says I’ve got my pigeon-holing all wrong. Is that kind? Silly question: kindness is a function of the motivation, not my pigeon-holing.
    Stevie Wonder is a priceless gift to us all. I don’t struggle accepting that one.
    Maeve melted in front of your photo.


  4. D. D. Syrdal says:

    I think I might have been uncomfortable receiving that pen from the maitre d’ as well. That seems pretty extravagant from someone you barely know. Then again, he was French, and we’re used to looking at the world with American eyes 😉


  5. danbohmer says:

    Awesome thoughts, great picture…thanks.


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