It’s a simple thing… Kindness. Right? No. Kindness is not so simple. But it’s one we need to work on and practice.
This subject is bothering the shit out of me. It has been building as I experienced some not-so-kind people and situations.
The One that Kick it Off
The last time I was in getting chemo, I was sitting in the waiting room with two ladies. The ladies were not together but were sitting opposite one another. I was tucked off to the side in a place where I could watch the entire room.
A gentleman comes out from having chemo, and the poor thing looks like he’s been through the ringer. His sleeves are rolled up, and he has a few patches of gauze taped to his arms where he had been poked. His hair is all over the place, his shirt is wrinkled and his pants are hanging off from him. And yes… his boxers are showing.
My eyes follow him as he shuffles out of the cancer center, his balance is a bit off, and he looks drained. Silently, I begin to send him Reiki, but I get interrupted by a very harsh voice. “Well! Some people need to get it together! No one cares about their appearance anymore!”
I look over at the one opinionated lady as she went on “Really! How hard is it to put on a belt and pull yourself together? Disgraceful!” The lady across from her nods her head. The judge looks over at me for agreement and I just stare at her, one eyebrow a bit higher than the other. There is not a chance in hell she was getting any agreement from me! She quickly shifts her eyes away from mine and becomes silent.
Why couldn’t she see what I was seeing? He looked like he had just been through a hellacious treatment and his clothes were probably falling off from him due to losing weight from the chemo. Does she expect people to bounce out of there, looking like they just took a drink from the fountain of youth? I was just blown away and that situation bothered me for days. Obviously longer since I’m ranting about it now.
The One that Perplexed Me
This past week I went to my doctor’s office for a follow up. The nurse there is super sweet and so lovely to me. For some reason, she went on a tear about how people show up for their appointments looking like they just rolled out of bed. Then how people wear pajamas out in public. She wondered how come people couldn’t look presentable. I asked her if it truly bothered her that much.
The nurse went on to tell me how one guy comes in for his appointment with barn boots on, and smelling like the barn. People in the waiting room are put off by it, and it’s hard for her to be in the room with him. As I watched her talk, I could really see the disgust on her face and all I could wonder is why it bothered her so much.
I wanted to say to her, “Perhaps he DID just come out of the barn. I just came from work and I’m wearing my work clothes.” Instead I responded with, “I’m sure he has a hectic schedule and at least he came in to take care of himself.” She wrinkled her nose at that, but agreed with me.
You guys, what gets me is that she’s a NURSE. Nurses are special people and I really hold them on a pedestal! She is in a position of taking care of people when they are at their worst and in horrible situations. I’m sure she’s dealt with much worse than barn boots and barn smells. It made me wonder if I was missing something.
It Comes to a Head
Yesterday, the subject of kindness came to a head for me. Perhaps because the morning started off with sadness.
A resident where I work passed away, and I began to think about his journey in the short time I knew him.
This man was kind and sweet. He had a smile that always made me think he used to be a mischievous kid, and a joke cracker as an adult. When I first met him, his wife had already passed away and his beagle was his companion. He had some other male residents that he hung out with and they were a delight to listen to.
He even had an eye for the ladies. I think he was just truly lonely and longed for that female companionship. Most of the women in the community didn’t seem to tolerate him. Why? I don’t know to be honest. He was always very kind.
Over the years I watched as his health began to dip. His smile was replaced with eyes of confusion and furrowed brows. He began to repeat things and he was often asking for clarification. His friends passed away, and eventually… his dog did too. It was truly so sad as he was alone; he had no kids, no siblings and no other family members.
People didn’t want to eat dinner with him. Was it because he repeated himself? Maybe it’s because he ate slower. I think it’s because it reminds them that they are aging, and they don’t want that reminder in front of them. He started to eat dinner in his apartment with his aide.
As I read the message that this kind man had passed, my heart broke. The end of his life was one of loneliness. No one should ever have that. I wonder, when other residents find out, will they even care? Well I do. To you Sir, I bid you a happy reunion with your loved ones and may you never be lonely again.
My Own Reminder
My day continued and I spent the evening with two of my girls, one boyfriend and one friend. The friend was a new addition to the group. He is quite the character.
This boy pushed many of my kindness buttons, along with a few others. He’s been suspended for a number of incidents at school. Let’s throw in he’s a bit crass, has no filter, and is quite homophobic. Some of the comments coming out of his mouth made me cringe.
I could tell my daughter’s boyfriend felt like I did: over the mouth and totally put off. I leaned over to him before dinner and told him to hang in there as I could tell he wasn’t tolerating it so well.
At dinner I listened as this friend “stole the show” as he ran his mouth. He was crude, rude and poked fun at people. I watched in amazement as my two daughters laughed at his antics, horrified for a few moments that they might think this way of acting was acceptable. As I listened to him, and tried to process it all, but I couldn’t. It was too much.
As we headed home from dropping the boy off, I commented how he was a lot to take in. The daughter’s boyfriend chimed in with how irritated he is and how it was hard to listen. We were totally fried from the experience. Then came a voice that brought me to the core of it all.
My daughter told me that she thinks he doesn’t get what he needs at home. He is left alone a lot and ignored. She told me he is a good guy, fun and she enjoys talking to him. I looked at her in my rear view mirror and she looked a bit disheartened. She was wanting to share this person with us, and we weren’t so open. He obviously let down his guard with her so she could see the real him. I knew I had to reflect on this.
For all of the faults he displayed, he’s honest, doesn’t sugar coat things and owns who he is. I could tell he has experienced a lot that most haven’t. I can remember flickers of sadness in his eyes as he talked about some situations. The love he has for his family is hard and true. He would amaze me by shooting off his mouth in one moment, and turn around and call me “Ma’am” in the next.
Even with this mask he wore, and fear based comments he made, the boy has kindness. He was taught those fear based thoughts and I can’t fault him for that. But I do hope that one day he will open to a new way of seeing things.
His outer display is armor that helps to protect him from the shit in life. I’m grateful my daughter took the time to get to know him, and felt strong enough to stick up for him. And I’m grateful she reminded me to be kind.
We teach many things as parents. Our kids watch us and mimic us. It’s important that we walk the talk.
Kindness isn’t so simple because we have to teach our kids to be kind when it’s not so easy. We adults need reminders to be kind when it’s so easy to be judgmental and rude.
Our world right now is a damn scary place. Right now, more than ever, we need kindness. And it’s so hard to be kind with some of the things going on. But it’s necessary and it starts with us adults.
I’ve been working on smiling at strangers, saying “Hi” as I walk by them. You never know who could use a smile. It’s free, sprinkle your smile everywhere!
I breath through rude interactions and use my manners and smile. I’ve even say to people: “I hope your day gets better!” Often I receive a look of confusion. It’s my way of serving up an awareness of how they are coming across, and I always hope it shifts them to a better place.
There are days I struggle with being kind, and there are days I fail to do the right thing. But I always recognize it and try harder the next time.
It starts with me and I choose to go the hard route because it’s a change I want to promote. I hope you choose the hard way too. Kindness is hard at times, but be a badass!