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October 21, 2021

Window on the World Column | Above All Else, Be Kind

The definition of kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate, according to the Oxford Languages, wherever they might hang their hat off the Google imprint. The true meaning of being kind is doing intentional, voluntary acts of kindness. Not only when it’s easy to be kind, but when it’s not — at least that is my take on it.

In the past month and a bit, I have witnessed enormous acts of kindness — human compassion of the best kind; the sort that occurs when no one is looking or taking inventory of the good deeds on display. When my daughter and her boyfriend were slapped up and down and turned a few times over by life and the chariot she can ride in, not to mention their Ford truck that was completely destroyed, I felt so sad and desperate for them.

Not only was she injured, but the pair of them were also beaten down and depressed, having lost their dream vacation, their truck and most of their possessions — not to mention the health of my daughter’s back and psyche. It was a brutal time.

I did not know what I could do to cheer them up, especially my daughter who was unable to work and still is. She also seemed to be developing agoraphobia there for a while. Her boyfriend was forced to deal with not only her, but also all the annoying adulting that ensues when you are required to manage insurance companies, adjusters, police … all because a wrong-way driver with dementia and no driving license was allowed to take the wheel of someone else’s car and cause destruction and mayhem.

People came out of the woodwork and offered up kindness in her purest form, as soon as the word got out that there were some hard-working innocent young people that needed their help. They made us dinners, offered us assistance, contributed to their Go Fund Me account and sent multitudes of kind words over the ether — not to mention visiting us in the hospital when we could really use a kind and familiar face, cupcakes and coffees. Complete strangers offered to help — not for any reason other than they wanted to. That completely blew my mind.

In the past I have felt that some do good things when they think others are looking. But, in this type of situation, when a couple of kids are down on their luck and they happen to be our kids, you don’t really expect such an outpouring of love and support from people that didn’t even know them.

“Glad to help!” one party noted. “Sending healing love to Aaron and Francoise,” another posted. “Wishing them all the best,” chimed in another. Nobody was standing by taking the head count of those who wanted to help. And this got me thinking. What if we all performed random acts of kindness when no one is looking?

I love the downtown pantry and bookshops you can see in our small towns. Help yourself, they call out to the world at large! Need that pack of rice or a couple of books for your kids? You just take what you need. Have extras yourself that you could easily part with? Just fill up those puppies. I love that they can sit on our streets and fill the needs of those who might not have quite enough, without being abused or vandalized.

An automotive repair company downtown collects clothing for the needy. Not because it helps their automotive fixing sales, but because they believe it is the right thing to do; and it is. I have to believe that, when you do the right thing with unadulterated kindness in your heart, the rest will follow.

Almost a million years ago, I was new to this country and living on the Bayou in Louisiana. A very long way from my present home in California, I can tell you! We were residing in a trailer, which was great as a roof over the head, but it had no furniture and the floor in the bathroom showed the ground below. Lizards used to come and play in the trailer and rest on the walls. Sometimes they would fall off the walls and onto you.

There were flying bugs, the like of which I have never seen before. I remember grabbing an outdoor hose at the trailer and seeing a water moccasin ricochet off the rubber. Everything was pretty hand to mouth at that time, but we didn’t ask for help. That wasn’t in my nature.

It was Thanksgiving Day and there was a knock at the trailer door. A lady tried to give us a basket full of yummy things so we could enjoy our own Thanksgiving. It was so very heartwarming and kind. We couldn’t accept the gifts, the basket full to the brim with food treats and items we could never afford at the time. There were many more people way worse off than us, we thought.

The lady seemed confused, as she backed away from the door with the basket still in her arms. She couldn’t believe that an empty house with two people and a dog would not be accepting of a kind basket donation on Thanksgiving Day. I look back at that day and smile a little. I would likely never accept help like that if I have the means to work and help myself. But sometimes life puts you in a corner and it’s OK to accept a little help. Especially when it’s for young ones or animals.

The recent help that poured in for my daughter honestly helped her with her recovery — both mental and physical. From my dad with his fishing pole dollar replacement offerings, to old friends and the generosity of so many dear people that lifted her up when she felt beaten to pulp and offered her hope for a better day; gave her an open-armed chance to forgive the lady who hurt her and the opportunity to begin to heal from multitudes of injuries — some you could see and others you couldn’t.

Oftentimes, it is not what happens to you in life that is key to a successful recovery, but how you respond to it. When you are aided by so many loving, giving hearts that wish you well, wish you better and wish you back, your return journey to a kinder life will be a lot smoother.

Thanks to all of you pure and generous hearts, not to mention the power of modern medicine, Francoise and Aaron will ultimately be just fine. Their spirits are much better and their sanity intact. Francoise is healing well, and Aaron just managed to qualify for a replacement truck that he absolutely loves. I shall be sure to return all of the favors in due course.

Thank you, beautiful people. We love you all.

Lucy Jensen
Soledad Columnist
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