Some acts of kindness are filled with drama and amazing acts of self sacrifice. (“Here…they’ll be breaking down the door any minute. I want you to have the cyanide capsule. I love you. Here they co…..) Yet, a simple–but genuinely offered smile– can have a profound effect up someone’s day, and those who offer a smile to another may have no idea how deeply it impacts the recipient. Sheri Strobaugh reminds us kindness is all around us, though at times nuanced. We just have to open ourselves up to take it in, as she did.
Smiles at the Market
By Sheri Strobaugh
Kindness. Sometimes it is hard to see when enduring the daily strife’s of life. I guess I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. When I looked in the mirror, I was staring at someone I barely recognized. I furrowed my eye brows further. I didn’t know what was bothering me, but something put me on edge.
I went downstairs and momentarily forgot about my agitation. I helped my mom get dressed in a soft colored green blouse and matching pants. Green was her favorite color which made her day start out happy. I made her mish-mosh for breakfast which is eggs, leftover potatoes and leftover steak. Mish-Mosh is our fave. I had a caregiver come in after breakfast to hang with mom while I ran errands. Mom didn’t really like her, but put up with her. Sandra was a kind and caring lady who knew all about mom’s ups and downs. I told mom I was off to shop for the makings of a fabulous meal! I got a smile out of her and a smooch back.
We cooked up a big family meal each Sunday. It was usually at my house and all of the family gathered. It gave my kids a break from cooking and I cannot deny that I absolutely loved cooking for the family. It also guaranteed me seeing the five grand-kids at least each Sunday. And we did game night in which everyone participated. (Well, my ten-month grand-baby just cooed when it was her turn).
After the long hot shower peeled away layers of my last bit of crankiness, I felt a sigh of relief and began to feel like my old self again. Ready and out the door, I jumped in my car. It was a beautiful summer day and looking around at all of the glorious nature definitely gave an upturn to my mood.
Why did I wake up so cranky? It was starting to come back to me. I dreamt about my mother. She had a severe case of Alzheimer’s Disease. I was her caretaker. One night after getting her pajamas on, she was particularly agitated. I was sitting across from her getting her slippers on. She kept curling her toes making it difficult to shove her feet all the way in. She did things like that on purpose; again, the disease.
I looked up. Mom stared at me. She looked right into my eyes and calmly and calculatingly said, “I am going to hire a man with a big knife to cut you up into little pieces and kill you.” She said it again and again. Then gave a small smile which slowly grew into a big toothy smile. Her eyes, however, were not smiling.
Oh, what a horrible dream! It happened in real life but she didn’t repeat it and repeat it. Mom said that to me about six months ago but my dreams kept coming.
I needed to shake that off and knew that it was the disease talking. Growing up, I had a fabulous mom. She was my best friend and didn’t have an unkind bone in her body. I just prayed that I wouldn’t ever burden my children with this disease. I was adopted so I was crossing my fingers there was no Alzheimer’s in my birth family’s history.
I reached the store in no time and started to fill up the cart. It was going to be an Italian feast!
As I passed various customers, I received a nod and a smile; one of the great perks in living in a small town. I felt very grateful for my life, my loved ones and my home. Seeing the kindness in people’s eyes was all it took. I have no time in my life for crankiness. Just the small act of a smile can pay it forward ten told. I smiled as I passed a sweet little lady on my way to the cashier. She stopped me and said, “You look particularly pretty today, dear.” I grabbed her hands and thanked her. I gave her a kiss on the cheek. She smiled as she walked away.
None of those busy little shoppers knew what I was going through. One small act of kindness like a smile, can change someone’s life. I know it did mine.
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