Random Acts of "Kindness"

Archive for November, 2012


My husband and I stopped at a favorite restaurant for breakfast. It was Friday morning, we usually stopped on Saturday. We didn’t sit in our favorite spot, nor did we have our favorite waitress. In fact, the woman who served us was extremely busy with a party and we had extra time to enjoy our morning coffee.

A heavy-set gentleman, wearing dark glasses, walking with a cane, eased into the booth across from us. As my coffee cup emptied and we still hadn’t placed our order, I became a little impatient. I have been gifted with a loud voice that carries. Even when I try to speak softly, my voice still carries. One comment led to another, soon the gentleman across from us joined in the conversation. I think his name was Bob. He had taken disability pay a few years ago which enabled him to take care of his aging parents. His father had cancer and his mother had Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. I knew why we had met.

His father hadn’t lingered, passing away soon after being diagnosed with  cancer, his mother passed away in September, on the same day, four years later. His mother had been a handful and he missed her.

When I mentioned that my dad had Alzheimer’s, he asked me if I missed him. How did I handle the day-to-day when my life had been so involved in my father’s care? It was a question that made me pause. Dad has been gone over seventeen years, but he is still very active in my life. He let me know within three days that he was just fine on the other side. Although I didn’t see him or hear his voice, I was very aware that he was often present. It helped with my grieving.  In fact, because of Alzheimer’s declining stages, he was more present than when he was alive. It also helped that our youngest daughter suggested I write our story of living with my father as his health declined. My first book, To Pap, With Love, gradually was born, with the help of “my friends.”

Bob, who was a veteran from Vietnam told me that it helped him to share his experiences with others, and to hear their stories in return.  Confirmed — another reason for me to not only write but to share my life with others.

I don’t know why I have been gifted by help from the other side. Do I have a special job to do? When that thought crosses my mind, I could panic. But I believe that God is in charge. I have always gone to the president of the company when I was working. So I let the day-to-day in His hands and try not to worry about tomorrow.

We all have people and pets on the other side. If you are not aware of their presence, there can be many reasons why they are not active in your life. Or maybe they are and like my mother who was involved in mine undiscovered for more than 45 years, they might be so good at what they are doing, that you don’t notice. Maybe you are doing exactly what you need to and their direction isn’t needed.


I wondered what changes occurred in the Garden after the temperature tumbled from 70 to 30 with rain. Monday, sunshine and warmth was promised but clouds and 30’s came instead — then 20’s and snow. Just a dusting but still snow. When I was at the Garden on a windy Sunday, I was greeted by four tall bright yellow trees, crafted from mums.

Roses were abundant. Weeping willow trees, brilliant in bright yellow, danced in the wind. Masses of flowers in many different colors were in bloom everywhere. Couples, families with children and older folk walked the paths.

Four days later, the yellow trees of mums were gone, replaced by evergreen trees, lit with tiny lights. The Garden prepared for winter. Evergreen garlands, strung with lights were everywhere. A huge tree, decorated with frosty icicles and cardinals held center stage in the Cafe. Unlike Sunday, many tables were available.

As I crossed the bridge, I was greeted by a robin. I noticed the tall fountain had stopped. The weeping willow trees were still golden, more copper, not as bright. Canadian Geese were everywhere. Most of the flowers didn’t survive the cold. Rose buds looked like they would still bloom, if the weather was warm enough.

If the plants were in a protected place, some of the flowers survived. Pansies, mums and Sweet William to name a few. I even found a bush of white roses still in bloom.

I walked down the crab apple path near the lake and was surprised to hear running water. Walking around the bend, the water fall was still cascading down the slope. Sunday, I stopped to listen on a sunlit bench. Thursday, I did the same — not as noisy, not as warm but this time I could hear the water tumble. I had dressed for the temperatures but I forgot my gloves.

Crossing the bridge onto the island, I saw a mass of crystal white Sweet Alyssum on the hill. I’m sure it was there on Sunday, but I was distracted by the hawk. A landscaper told me the flowers were all gone. So were the people. I heard the wind whisper, the bird’s song. A favorite pit stop of mine was closed for the season.

On Sunday I took over 200 pictures, Thursday I took 65.

You might ask “Why the title? What was the Garden’s fault?”

Let me explain. Last Christmas, I decided to get new garlands for the stairs. Even though I have searched, I have not seen anything that I wanted to spend our money on. When I arrived at the Garden, the doors were outlined with garlands of evergreens, decorated with red berries and lights.

I decided to stop at a craft store and purchase plain garlands, red berries and white roses. Hopefully I will like the results.


The temperature has been up and down, mostly in the 40’s, with a cloud cover that has hid the sun. Finally temperatures in the 60’s with sun was promised. Except, Sunday, in time for the Bears night time football game, rain, dropping temperatures and possibly SNOW was forecast.

Our youngest grandchildren were in town for the weekend. We planned to visit Brookfield Zoo — we had the car packed for the short trip, then our oldest daughter phoned. She lives about 25 miles West of Chicago. She thought we should know that a thunderstorm was over her house. Just as quickly, plans changed. We visited the playlot at McDonald’s instead. We stayed dry, the kids had fun.

Sunday, a high wind advisory  from 10:00 AM till 8:00 PM was forecast. Our youngest daughter and kids left early in the morning to beat the weather. I have wanted to go to Botanical Gardens for a few weeks — today was the day. Some sun, warmer temperatures, lots of clouds and even more wind — not a bad day.

I was surprised by many things. First the colors. Autumn colors were everywhere. Weeping willow trees danced, golden in the wind. Grasses in gold, orange and rust added their own color. Many, many varieties of roses were abundant. Mums and asters — autumn flowers were everywhere. I even saw a couple of gladioli and some pansies. I was very surprised– the waterfall was still running. I spent some time, sitting on a bench, enjoying the sun shine and cascading water. When I asked a female Mallard duck if she was all alone, she turned and swam under the bridge and reappeared with the male.

Families with young children were everywhere. A young girl sat on a bench, an array of colored pencils in her lap, and worked on a drawing. Her mother mentioned that her daughter’s first grade class came to the garden to draw a couple of years ago. That is when her interest in drawing began.

I watched a young Chinese maiden, dressed in yoga attire, pose for pictures at the waterfall and on the bridge to the Japanese Garden. I learned she writes articles for a magazine on the Chinese Internet.

Walking down a path, I noticed a couple of people taking pictures of a tree. Looking up, I spotted the object of their interest — a brown tailed hawk watching from its high perch.

I almost finished walking the garden, when my camera refused to take any more pictures.

Leaving the garden, I passed a short, heavy-set, white-haired, older woman pushing a walker, the basket overflowing with stuff. I couldn’t see if it was a coat, a sweater, or a blanket, or all of the above. No one was walking with her.

Questions rose like bubbles in my mind. Was she alone? How did she get to the garden? Did she drive?

She reminded me of my maternal grandmother whose birthday is this week. My grandmother didn’t drive, but she didn’t stay home either. In a safer world, living in rural Wisconsin, she hitch hiked.

It was a normal weekend —  but then, wandering with Spirit usually is.

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