On Monday, I meet an unexpected blessing named Ann. Since this is Thanksgiving Day for us in the United States, I wanted to share her story.
I had to meet my husband at the chiropractor.
After our appointment, we decided to grab lunch together at a nearby gourmet sandwich place we favor. A quick – and nevertheless still healthy – meal, before continuing on our various errands for Turkey day, four short days away.
A Quick Lunch
I left the parking lot and pointed my car toward the restaurant. I had to head north which meant crossing a three-lane southbound highway.
There were three drivers for me to watch out for:
- One truck was in the distance in the first lane (closest to me), giving me enough time to proceed.
- Another car was in the left turn lane of the median (where I needed to go, right behind them).
- Lastly, a truck was in the farthest lane and would pass me before I reached the left turn lane.
No problem except that unexpectedly, the driver of the first truck (furthest away) proceeded to stop – intending a left turn – just as I was spurring my car forward. In this case, it would have been convenient had he indicated his intention by using his blinker, yeah, there is a reason we have them.
Reacting to this sudden change, I stopped and watched for the truck closest to me wondering if I was now sticking too far into his lane.
Fear – or panic – are poor advisors.
I decided to back up a couple of feet and realized – when I heard a light thud – this was an ill-fated idea.
The last time I was in a fender bender (over fifteen years ago), I was forcefully rear-ended. Upon approaching the driver, to ensure he was okay, I was thoroughly cussed out despite the fact he was at fault.
It is therefore with trepidation that I proceeded out of my vehicle considering in this case; I was entirely at fault.
My inner critic was shouting at me non-stop and as well and as you can imagine, was far from encouraging.
A pretty middle-aged blond came out of the other car.
Dare I say she even smiled?
We both looked at her car.
A small scratch.
Relief washed over me.
I extended my apology and admitted to my guilt.
She was kind and unruffled.
Don’t get me wrong, her demeanor was gentle and welcome yet, entirely unforeseen and dare are say, uncommon?.
“Do you need my insurance card?”
“Yes, just in case, but I don’t see anything wrong.”
Baffled – but grateful – by our kind exchange. I continued: “I want to thank you for not being angry and not yelling. It was my fault and I am truly sorry.”
She smiled: “It’s no big deal.”
She asked me for my name and number just in case and then said: “my name is Ann.”
I thanked Ann one more time, repeating once more that her behavior was astonishing and beyond welcome.
“It’s only a car,” she shrugged gracefully.
I gave her a hug (yes, we hugged!), thanked her, and we both went on our way.
I am a firm believer in random acts of kindness (RAK). I make it a point to live my life spreading kindness around. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t walk on water. There are selfish reasons for my being kind; it makes me feel good too. Moreover, lest you think I wear a halo, let me reassure you, I am not always kind, ask my kids.
It is one thing to be the giver and another to be the receiver.
Some kind gestures – which benefited me – are stamped on my mind even decades later:
- The anonymous person who paid for our electric bill after my husband’s knee surgery and the subsequent loss of his job.
- During the same period, the person who said they had “found” a Christmas tree on the side of the road and wondered if I needed one knowing we could not afford Christmas that year.
- A family friend who met the life transport team of our newborn daughter so that my husband could come and get me to join her at the hospital.
- A deaf uncle of my husband, we found wandering the hospital halls, trying to find the NICU so that he may pray with us for our sick daughter.
- The friend who came after our baby’s funeral with a loaf of bread to ensure we were okay knowing we had little to no support from immediate family members.
- The nameless person who paid for me and my twins’ breakfast while we were on a date just because “I enjoyed you and your boys’ interaction.”
- The aunt who – after her work was done – came every day my husband worked to helped me attend to four little ones and two newborns (one special needs).
I can see even now the face of every person who has shown me kindness even though some of them have since passed. The nameless ones are also far from forgotten. The essence of their kindness remains like a perfume in my heart.
I am deeply grateful for every single one of these individuals.
I am also grateful for the strangers who in the course of their day, have shown me benevolence by letting me in their lane, opening the door for me, picking up a package I dropped, etc.
Forbearance is good for the giver as well as the recipient. This fact is the superpower of kindness. Small acts of love shown by – or towards – strangers and friends alike feed our soul, at least they nourish mine.
On Monday, during a stressful time, when my mind kept – rather loudly – blasting me for being a klutz (in reality, my mind’s choice of words was far less kind), I was blessed by a stranger. This charitable woman had every right to be angry with me. Instead, she showed forbearance, and this made all the difference.
My stranger had a name: Ann.
Ann has been on my mind ever since. I think of her with gratitude, fondness, awe, and yes, love. What Ann did for me on Monday was not only to extend forgiveness, which she did, she also taught me a beautiful lesson in goodwill.
I want to be Ann when I grow up.
So today, as we celebrate Thanksgiving, remember all your blessings and count them. Do not fail to recognize those less fortunate and those who suffer. Enjoy the food, the laughter, and the love. While you are at it, plant seeds of kindness as you go, as you may never know when they will come back to you and bloom.
Update: Yesterday I received a text from Ann indicating all was well and wishing me a happy Thanksgiving. I pray she has a great one as well.