My Kennedy piece, Where Were You Fifty Years Ago Today https://athingirl.com/2013/11/22/so-where-were-…ears-ago-today, did really well. People loved and answered the question which is what has inspired me to ask another.
In our lifetime, there is always at least one memorable event when we decided to help our fellow man. I’m not talking when it’s expected either, like putting your kid through school or helping a pal move into a new house. I’m referring to what’s known as, a random act of kindness propelled by a sudden urge, need even, to serve someone else.
I pondered this for a good long while. I do nice things all the time. It’s probably the very best part of me, that I pay attention to what goes on in my midst. Throw in my sudden hearing loss that has widened my heart even more, one could say I rival a Quaker.
It had to be in the late 70s when I still went home to Connecticut to visit my mother. I was all of 25 sitting in the Fairfield Railroad Station waiting to escape back to New York wondering how long it would take me to walk. Going back there was like a short tour in Nam so one could say I was more than a little eager to depart.
There’s a young African American girl sitting on a bench weeping. In those days she was still considered Black, an improvement from when I was little when she was called colored. What I remember most were her tears. They were huge saucers making her look slightly cartoonish plopping down her cheeks like giant raindrops. I never knew tears came in different sizes before.
The thing about me you need to remember is I suffered, and still do in a way, from chronic naivety syndrome. I thought nothing of asking her what was wrong.
She is all of 25 too, chubby, dressed in a modest skirt and blouse. Can’t recall what I was wearing, but I was in my Milanese model mode in those years so God only knows. Probably ribbed tights with an oversized mans shirt, one of my dad’s Perry Como cardigans thrown over it. Oh yes, I indeed thought of myself as the consummate fashion blue-plate special.
At first she doesn’t answer me. I was a skinny white girl after all, how could I possibly care what is wrong with her. But I ask again,”What’s the matter? Maybe I can help.” I recall handing her a tissue quickly saying, “It hasn’t been used.” And she taking it, blowing her nose rather loudly. It honked like Tommy Pivorotto’s red Chevy.
She then looks at me while a fresh batch of Looney Tune tears burst down her chubby cheeks mumbling, “I’m just so cold.”
Well let me tell you another thing about me. Being cold is my worst nightmare. I can handle fatigue, hunger, even nausea before battling a chill.
I have on a little cashmere cap Wilhelmina had given to all the models for Christmas, so I take it off and give it to her. “Here,” I said, “put this on.”
“But that’s your hat,” she said, more than a little surprised.
“Yeah, but now it’s yours.” I then go and buy us both tea. We silently sit together until the train pulls into the station.
I chose that incident because, I loved that hat. I loved Willie, and she was already not well so I knew it was probably the last gift she’d be able to give to anyone. Yet I gave it away anyway, to someone who truly needed it because now, those Tubby The Tuba tears were no longer. Besides, what a better way to honor a woman I so adored and admired that was about to take flight from the earth.
So here we go folks…
What was the kindest thing you have ever done? When did you, and for whom, put yourself aside, your own needs and wants just for a second, to aid another.