We are living in the midst of a time that most of us have never experienced. I vaguely remember stories from grandparents and older relatives about depression times, war times, hard times and difficult times. But to be honest, I’ve been pretty protected from those actual experiences. I listened with somewhat disconnected interest to their tales, but honestly it all seemed so long ago and far away. Today it’s our reality. Anxiety, uncertainty, shortages and worry are part of our lives. Many things on our “to do” list even a month ago have changed and shifted priority. Like many, I have watched the news, recommendations from scientists and health professionals, and heeded the concern of our leaders. We have a choice. We can live and perpetuate fear, or we can resolve to be positive and work to solve this issue. I sometimes have times where fear and anxiety start sucking the air out of me. Then I hear that voice of my parents, grandparents and other family members saying “Stop it!” Stop feeling sorry for yourself, stop and consider how blessed you are, and stop to think of others who have it so much worse than you. So that is my choice today. I remember their words, their encouragement during difficult days and consider the positives that might come from this health care crisis. I believe we can become stronger, better and kinder if we take time to practice these skills. My friend Terry has encouraged me to share positive experiences that I have witnessed this week. I wasn’t sure how to do that so I decided to incorporate it into my blog for The Brazil Times. Thank you, Terry for the encouragement. Here are three positive experiences I had this past week.
Last Saturday I had the privilege to attend the spaghetti dinner at Launch Academy. Launch is a wonderful learning experience in our community. Two of our grandchildren have been fortunate to attend. We were just learning the seriousness of the health crisis and it could have easily been cancelled. Thankfully it was not. At the time I felt we would likely be facing some difficult days ahead, but none of the kids even knew. They were happy, excited and proud of their school, their teachers and accomplishments. Parents, Grandparents and friends carried on throughout the evening making these kids feel loved, special and important. It is our job as adults to protect our kids and not let them worry about how serious this crisis might be. It seemed that all adults present were doing their job that evening. I hope our family history will record (and our children will remember) that this time showed love and concern for our families, children and grandchildren. I want them to recall it was extra time, fun and learning with family, and not too much about the health care crisis. Our granddaughter Vivian was so excited about the event and talked about it several days. I am not sure if she will get to go back to Launch this year, but if not, she had a great last event that evening and that is what she will remember. Kindness was demonstrated to all the kids and families that evening.
Yesterday, my son Dusty, granddaughter Josey and I had to make a trip to Menards. We probably would have stayed home, but Dusty needed some supplies for a job in progress. Menards is a typical big box store and honestly there have been times I have left it feeling frustrated. Menards practiced social distancing long before it became a common household term. I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to find an associate, cashier or yard clerk within a 6- foot distance. Sometimes there haven’t been 6 employees in the entire store, but yesterday was different. I could see and sense the kindness of each employee around. There were smiles from people both employees and customers I have rarely seen. Menards is not where one goes to feel good, get positive strokes or enjoy the ambiance. It is not Bath and Body Works. It’s a place where hard working people, do it yourselfers, contractors and home improvement folks go for supplies. We are always in a hurry. We just want to get our supplies, equipment, place a special order, compare prices and then get back to the job, finish the estimate or close the project. But today was a bit unusual. Of course, there were fewer folks in the store, but also the atmosphere was different. At least two separate times there were public address announcements about maintaining social distances, washing our hands and respecting the space of all. Cashier lines were marked in 6-foot increments for their customers. I really felt Menards cared about their customers, their health and their safety. However, the most interesting instance happened on the yard. As we went through the guard house the attendant kept his distance and asked me to just yell out the order number. I complied, we entered and picked up our materials. On our way out, we again stopped and I yelled our number back to the attendant while he checked the order in the back of my truck. When he gave me a “thumbs up” sign I leaned out the window and yelled back to him saying, “thanks, have a good day and stay safe.” He stopped in his tracks, turned around, smiled and said “thank you sir and you be safe as well.” It wasn’t a Hallmark movie moment, but it was a Menards moment- we paused, connected, expressed care and concern for each other. It was about more than selling 2x4’s and moving product. I left feeling good and I like feeling good. Kindness really can change our day.
Sunday morning, I was a bum. I slept in until 6:30 which is late for me. I watched the news, had a cup of coffee and decided to get dressed to take a walk. Normally on Sunday morning we attend church services so my usual routine was already out of the norm. I set my watch to track my progress and started walking. I always take my phone so I can call 911 if I go down. I also tell Mary if I don’t return within the hour to drive down the road and scoop me up. Today I took my time taking in the beauty of the sky and surroundings. Where did all those birds come from? Are they here singing in the trees every morning? How have I missed that! Respecting a 6-foot distance, I stopped and talked with my neighbor, which I never have (or take) time to do. I enjoyed not being in a hurry and actually I really enjoyed the quiet, alone time on this quiet Sunday morning. When I reached my walking limit, I sat down along the roadside to rest a minute and catch my breath. A car with two people passed me while I sat to rest. I waved as all of us country people do even if we don’t know you. I watched them pass, then slow at the next drive, pull in and start to back out heading my way. I knew what they were doing. They were coming back to see if the old guy sitting along the road was ok. I immediately jumped up and started walking toward them and waved again. They then pulled in the drive, turned back around in the direction they were going and proceeded on their route. I have no idea who these people were, but they cared about me. They were showing kindness and I appreciated it.
News reports and announcements state we have a long way to go with this life altering event of Covid-19. We are all affected by it in some manner. What will we learn from this experience? I could go on about politics, politicians, infrastructure, caring for the disadvantaged and impoverished. I try to keep those thoughts to myself most of the time. I do have an opinion on those topics (if you are interested) as my immediate family knows all too well. But today, I am focused on kindness. We always have a choice on how we respond to people, situations, employers/employees, customers, store clerks and friends. I am sorry we all have to go through these trying times. My thoughts and prayers go to those who are ill, compromised or have passed due to this terrible disease. But I have to admit, in the midst of this tragic time, I am certainly thinking more about kindness every day. I am reminded that I like kindness whether I am giving it or receiving it. I think I’ll keep practicing.