The Secret of Life is enjoying the passage of time.  That is the first line of a song by James Taylor.  I love his music and this song, but I think the secret of life is really PEOPLE. 

While we can all count so many examples of humans being really awful to each other, animals, the earth, property, whatever, there are people doing good things too. 

At holiday times we hear all the news reports about good things humans do to be kind and I think we should all make a concerted effort to do more of that all year long.

In a previous blog I mention the two ladies who live down the street from us.  There was a brother and his two older sisters and they lived all together in this little block house which is prone to flooding as it sits in a valley.  I always worried about them.  Gary, the baby of the family, was always putzing in his garage where he had a really nice Corvette, a cool old truck and lots of “toys.”  When I would walk the pups down the dirt and gravel road to their house, we would often meet up and have a nice little chat then I would head back up the hill.  I gave them eggs and lollipops every time I made a fresh batch.  When I was tackling the landscaping around the house, I pulled out a ton of bulbs and they planted them all around their house.

On the visits I learned about their parents, the apple trees they used to have and we talked about the farm and what we were growing.  They love fresh veggies and gave me a huge bag of green bean seeds to plant.  I grew beans and passed them along.

Two years ago in the fall, Tractor Supply advertised that they scheduled a farmer day where farmers would set up their wares in the parking lots and I asked for a spot.  TSC management was THRILLED I wanted to participate in their event.  I told the neighbors I would be there.

It turns out I was THE ONLY farmer to sign up so I chose a good spot outside by the entrance, set up my table and tent and waited.

Nobody else that I told came, but the neighbors did.   They bought a few things, I gave them some things and it was just so nice that they CAME. 

That was the last time I saw Gary.  He died of a massive heart attack a couple of weeks later at the age of 60 and on my next trip to see them I learned the news.  I was shocked.  I asked why they didn’t call me.   I asked if they were alright.  I asked if they needed anything and asked what were they doing for Thanksgiving.  Betty said, “We aren’t having Thanksgiving.”

I said, you must come and spend the holiday with us. 

From then on in earnest I check on the girls.  Neither one ever learned to drive nor marry. I’m not even sure if they worked outside the home.   They were now alone.  Gary was their EVERYTHING. 

I learned they do have a nephew nearby but I have never seen anyone over there so I make it a point to check in and bring them soups and stews and whatnot when I cook and make sure they are ok.  They sold all of Gary’s vehicles and arranged for a service to take them shopping and to doctor appointments.

The girls spend Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter holidays with us.  They came for my dad’s birthday dinner this year too.  Dad is in charge of bringing “his girlfriends” to the house and depositing them back home safely.  I know he gets a kick out of it.  I was really glad they came to the Fall Festival and it is a pure delight for me to see them smiling and having fun.

At Thanksgiving we were talking about the oil lamps that I collect and one of the gals said they have a bunch of them.

A few days later I stopped in with eggs and they presented me with 15 antique oil lamps and I swear none of them have ever been lit. 

I have them filled with red and clear lamp oil and have been enjoying the warm glow and that delightful smell lamp oil brings to the air when it burns.   They are so beautiful. I just LOVE them.   I can’t WAIT for Christmas day to show the girls.    They have little in property but had something they weren’t using that I would appreciate and they gave.  They GAVE.  This makes me weepy every time I think about it. 

I asked my friends and family for examples of kindness they have experienced or given and I was overjoyed to read some amazing tales from a total stranger being present when my cousin lost her first husband and father of her children to a car accident and was crying in a parking lot.  A man seeing her distress took her hand and said we both needed each other today.  She still remembers that meaningful act of kindness 7 years later.  Others spoke of the kindnesses their family has shown them and the support they get and some mentioned the little things I like to do and give that they have received from me. It is heartwarming.

Recently, I was at CVS and there was an older gentleman with a cane and he had these hearing aids he was trying to get to work.  He was asking the clerk for help but she was busy.  I took them and yelled in his ear that my husband uses hearing aids and I would try to help. 

I found the batteries that would fit and assembled them.  He asked me to put them in his ear.  He told me his friend gave them to him.  I was skeptical that they would work as hearing aids are personal and built to fit YOUR ear and your particular hearing needs, but I put them in his ears as best I could.  Can you hear me better? He looked at me and smiled and said it was ok and went on his way.  The clerk thanked me for helping and it felt good to help.

People, we all need each other.  There are animals that need adopted and my husband and I talk about how we could never volunteer at a shelter as we would bring them all home, but we can do more and we SHOULD.   We can brighten someone’s life, help people load groceries into their car, be patient, consider what may be happening to people and give folks a break once in a while.  We can pay a kindness forward and connect with people, give them some time, LISTEN to them.  Sometimes it just takes a minute, a gesture, a touch on the shoulder to make a difference.  It is a finite time we have on this earth.  Let’s make the best of it.

I am teaching my Little Sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters to pick up a piece of trash when you see it, place things back on the shelf that have dropped, do something to HELP others and the planet!  I think by showing up and being a positive person we can inspire ourselves and others.  Let’s do it!