There are many things that irk me. People putting their feet up on furniture, smokers and those yakking on their phones in public. Caregivers Tweeting rather than giving care along with dog walkers who sit instead of walk. Our prevailing tactless, Teflon coated medical community who’d prefer golf than healing you. Abandoned animals, wives who ignore their husbands and the big Kahuna of them all, littering.
It just drives me crazy. You’ll often see me early in the morning picking up cans and potato chip bags, candy wrappers and various parts of the newspaper. I just can’t help myself. I used to cause scenes whenever I saw someone litter, but now let them see me pick it up as a lesson hoping it will embarrass them enough to think the next time. And I learned this gentle tactic from a woman I knew named Beth Sutherland Nelson.
I wrote this way back in 2011 to remember her.
It’s one of my favorite essays, not because I wrote it, but because of her.
When I was 18 I shared a beach house with a bunch of wonderful people in Lordship Connecticut. There was one other woman living there by the name of Beth.
Beth eventually married Mickey and they had three kids her youngest being a girl. She taught Amy who was 3, anytime she saw someone litter to say ouch on behalf of the earth. Witnessing this, if you were lucky enough, broke your heart in two. This wee creature would stun people into picking up what they dropped.
Beth died of breast cancer fifteen years ago but her sweet, gentle parenting still resonates, and I’m sure not just with me.
I live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and the conspicuous consumption, especially where children are concerned, is off the charts. Yesterday I met a 3 year-old with his own iPhone so he could call his grandparents in Palm Beach. …
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