Monday, November 21, 2011

The Simplest Act Of Kindness

I find it amazing sometimes how the smallest act of kindness can mean so much more than the most grandiose.

Often in ways that are often overlooked because they are not expected.

I had one of those wondrous moments just a minute or two ago - while simply sitting at my desk, eating a sandwich – a bologna and cheese with mustard on it – right from the little sandwich bag it was packed in.

It was a great sandwich – with three pieces of bologna on fresh buttered whole wheat bread.

I devoured it while reading my constantly growing number of emails that do not stop simply because it is lunchtime.

I took the last bite from the sandwich bag and I sat the mustard covered baggie over on the side of the desk as I reached in my bag to grab a can of Coke.

I enjoyed the sandwich especially this day because my youngest daughter Ashley-Rae had made it for me.

She packed my whole lunch for me – which I especially appreciated today because my lovely wife Darlene had come down with a horrible cold that sounds more like pneumonia – like a whole Scottish regiment being piped across St. Andrews on a bitter cold November morning – sacs of air all wheezing in that uniformed but frightening pitches and octaves that only a masterful piper could extract from such a convoluted instrument – those same sounds were coming from my lovely wife as she attempted again to catch some sleep amongst her sickness that morning and the crippling back pain each cough shot through her degenerating spinal cord.

So Ashley-Rae pitched right in to help – standing in her pajamas at the counter with the bread and butter strewn across the countertop madly working to assemble the lunches for not only myself but her and her older sister Alannah as well.

“How many pieces of bologna do you want Daddy?”, she asked as I stood at the sink in the upstairs bathroom shaving.

"Three", I replied as the razor ran across my cheek.

“What kind of pudding do you want, Daddy?”, she asked as I finished attending to my own personal hygiene for the day and ready to help her and her sister accomplish the same.

"No puddings - just one of those snack bars please", I replied to my nine year old short order chef.

Ashley was still standing there working away – no breakfast yet – still dressed only in her pajama’s adorning Justin Bieber’s hideous face. And only fifteen minutes to go until they had to be at the school for the final bell.

Ashley was just finishing cleaning up the mess as I came into the kitchen to urge her to get ready.

And in a mad frenzy, both daughters dressed, and brushed their teeth, and yelled and screamed in pain as they do each morning as I attempt to brush their mangled tangled mops of hair.

We hurriedly all grabbed our briefcases and back packs and luck boxes and bags as we ran for the door shouting out a hurried “bye Mommy” to my poor wife who was only half conscious and understandably unmotivated to follow us out to the door in her state of illness.

As we pulled into the school parking lot – seconds before the final bell would ring, the girls climbed out of the car stating the usual “love ya Daddy” as the door shut behind them.

And then I drove to work.

And then work became my main focus of the morning. And the morning passed quickly from the business that it entails.

Until lunch time, when still working, I devoured the wonderful bologna and cheese sandwich that Ashley-Rae made me. And the little chocolate cookie bar she packed in my lunch as a special treat.

And with little thought I reached to grab the cookie wrapper and the sandwich bag laying sloppily on my desk  to throw them away when I realized I stuck my finger in a big wad of mustard from the baggie.

I picked up the offending baggie and found it not to be so offensive after all.

It was one of those freezer storage bags – the kind with the white panel you can write on – stating what you're freezing and when you froze it.

But my baggie had neither written on it. Instead – in the unmistakable scrawl of my nine year old daughter were the words written in marking pen …

“I love you Dad”

And I realized that for the challenges in a day, be they professional or domestic battles being fought from the most tedious of exercises – that we really do need to pay more attention to detail.

Or else we might miss the really important stuff.

We might over look the most wonderful – the smallest - demonstrations of kindness.

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