Random Acts of "Kindness"

Archive for June, 2019

HARMONICA

My father loved to play the harmonica. Thinking back, I really can’t remember the songs he played. I’m sure they were old favorites. My grandmother was a very religious woman — Methodist or ?. I’m sure she would NOT have allowed modern music. A music radio station played religious songs all day. Our dogs did NOT like the sound of the harmonica, it hurt their ears. So Dad did not play it often.

Why am I remembering his playing now. That is easy to say this morning. Yesterday I went downtown to the Blues Fest. I did NOT recognize any of the names of the performers. The transit worker at the train station told me that Friday had the best music. I thought I might stay later than planned.

Listening to the weather on TV before I left, I heard that it was 60 by the lake. I dressed for cool — sweat shirt and heavier jacket. I try not to carry a purse so I loaded up the jacket pockets with necessary items. I restricted myself to no credit card and only $10 in cash. My knees were yelling — Motrin and cream were necessary. This was Chicago’s 36 year hosting the Blues Fest. I LOVE MUSIC! I didn’t go for many of the years. Then I realized that the possibility of my husband going with me was slim and if I was going to go — I had to go by myself. My pins date back to 2007.

I ALWAYS have a good time. I knew that if I stayed home, I would be unhappy with myself. Sore knees, cool temperatures, I was going. It was NOT as cold as I heard on the TV. I was ROASTING! I would have bought a tee shirt BUT I didn’t bring enough money, no credit card either.

I found a comfortable place under a tent, with chairs! The sides were pulled back to let in the breeze. I did NOT recognize the performer but I was comfortable. One of my favorite sounds in the blues is the harmonica (harp). Credit goes to my father. The musician Grady Champion was a joy to listen to. As a matter of fact, when his set was over, I was ready to go home.

I decided to refill my water bottle and stop in the bathroom before the trip home. The program at the bandshell started at 5. Since it was after 4, I decided to listen a bit before going home. I had trouble understanding the words in the tent, I was hoping the sound system at the bandshell would be better. IT WAS!

Not only was the sound better, I could understand the words. My sweatshirt and jacket came in handy. I was comfortable. I got a fantastic surprise. The artist: Charlie Musselwhite was a MASTER at his craft. He played the harp EXTREMELY well. I would easily have bought one of his CD’s if I had cash or a credit card. I stayed for the entire set. Before leaving, I bucked the line to tell him how much I enjoyed his playing.

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ROXIE

There is a line in a song from Wicked that describes Roxie perfectly: “Because I knew you, my life has been changed for the better.”

Roxie has been a crossing guard for 51 years. 41 of those years, she has guarded the crossing for our parish school and the neighborhood public school. This year they have given her the award for the Crossing Guard of the Year.

I would not have been aware of the award EXCEPT the actions of our NEW governor and NEW mayor have me intrigued. Normally we receive a newspaper every weekday morning. We skip the weekend just in case we are out of town. Because of the summer, I placed the paper on a vacation hold until October. But since we have a subscription, the paper is available on line.

I accessed the paper on Friday morning. Flipping through it page by page I was happy seeing Roxie stare back at me on page 4. She is retiring in June. She will be MISSED by the neighborhood.

Roxie was at her corner, crossing children when our kids went to school. She was at her corner crossing people when my father went to morning mass. They became good friends. When my fathers memory declined, she joined our team keeping an eye on him. She often pointed him in the right direction when he was confused. If my Dad went to an early mass at the Irish church, he went out of his way to tell her on his way back home.

Roxie was aware of a woman’s interest in my father. He sometimes joined her for coffee and listened to her problems. I don’t know if my father ever gave her money. When Dad went to day care, she asked if she could visit him there. I told her that wasn’t possible but offered to take my father to meet her for coffee. She didn’t take me up on that and dropped out of his life. Roxie gave me details that my father never would have.

After my Dad’s passing, I went to church every Friday for a couple of years. Mornings I stopped to chat with her before going to church.

Not only will the children miss her, but many other people in the neighborhood will miss her friendly face on the corner: “Because we knew you, our life has been changed for good.”

STICKERS

Owning a car has many advantages. If you are able to drive, the car expands your opportunity to travel. If you have a dependable vehicle, your options increase. We have a dependable car — it is just older with many miles. Getting a newer car was in my husbands plans. My knees have become a problem. He wanted a car that was easier for me to get in and out of. We decided not to get rid of the older car. That meant we now had two cars. Living in the city adds another expense. We need to help with the cost of the roads, therefore having a sticker on the windshield.

Since my husband is a senior, we get a break on the cost of the sticker. We wouldn’t get a reduced cost on the second car. But I’m a senior also. Taking advantage of my age, we got a reduced cost.

We DID NOT know that the city allows 30 days to purchase a sticker. Sadly we were over the 30 days. BUT since we are SENIORS, we received a reduced cost for that.

I normally go down to city hall to purchase the stickers. I knew I needed my husband to go with me. I thought he might get a reduce fee since he is a veteran. I learned that there was a satellite office near our house. We could drive rather than take the train.

Driving turned out to be an advantage. The lines to purchase stickers were as long as downtown. My husband stood in line while I sat in the car. No parking signs were all over the neighborhood. The office is close to a large terminal for the train. Parking for residents would be a premium if it wasn’t for the restrictions. A bicycled policeman rode through while I sat in the car waiting.

In order to purchase a sticker for the Escape, we needed to have the bill of sale. Thankfully we had the car. Thankfully the paperwork was in the car. The lady who waited on us told us not to wait in line again. If we had the needed paperwork, to come right to her. One more task checked off the list.

CRABAPPLES

The crabapple trees were in bloom in the city. They reminded me of the pathway by the lagoon at Botanic Garden, planted with pink crabapple trees. Absolutely beautiful when in bloom.

Our cool, wet weather had delayed the blooming of flowers and trees. Normally the trees were in bloom by Mother’s Day. Sun was out, temperature hinted at seventy. Visit to the garden planned.

I could NOT find my membership card. Luckily our old car was back in the city. It had a membership sticker that would allow access to the Garden. I called the Garden to request a new sticker for the new car and a replacement for my missing card. I DID NOT ask if the crabapples were in bloom.

Traffic to the garden was light. Since it was one of the first sunny days in weeks, the parking lots were full but I found a place by the walking path. My knee had been acting up in the morning so I planned a shorter walk, maybe sit at more places.

Entering the Garden, I overheard a child pointing at a turtle underwater. The turtle was huge, reminding me of turtles in Hawaii. I tried to capture it with my camera but it was too far away to get a good shot. Stopping to sit at a bench, I noticed a woman using walking sticks and asked a couple of questions. Two years younger than me, she shared my paternal grandmothers name. She uses the sticks for balance, finding them more useful than a cane.

I decided I would confine my picture taking to flowers that I might want to paint. In the next Garden, I noticed a woman taking pictures with an I-Pad. She was having problems. Stopping to talk to her, I learned that the crabapple trees were not in bloom. They would need another week with warm temperatures.

Thankfully the waterfall was running. I stopped to rest on one of the benches and noticed another woman walking with the walking sticks. She shared that hers had a spring on the bottom which made them easier to use. I don’t know if I’m ready for a cane or walking sticks. But gathering information never hurts.

Sadly my knee started acting up again. I decided to cut my walk short, and get something to eat at the cafe. The salad that I had enjoyed was sold out, I would have had to settle with a pasta salad. The lines made me reconsider. Shortening my stay at the Garden I headed back for my car.

15 minutes to the Kennedy the sign announced when I was driving on the expressway. I was glad I left early. I only passed a couple of exits when the traffic slowed to a crawl. I exited at the next exit. Turning on the radio, I heard a truck had smashed into a bridge, taking out two lanes of traffic. I was very glad I had left the Garden early. THANK YOU!

UNPREPARED

I think I mentioned that our daughter bought a new car for us. I know that I was shown were the lights and windshield wipers were. I know I was shown how to access the automatic pilot. I FORGOT!

My husband and I took both cars to the camper. He drove our old car, trunk loaded, Robin helping with the trip. I drove the new Escape, trunk loaded. It was a cool, cloudy day but DRY. When I first started out, I realized I had forgotten how to access the automatic pilot. Evidently I was too tired when the various parts of the car where shown to me. I have driven the car, but in the city I don’t use the automatic pilot. I finally figured out where it was but every time I turned it on, slower traffic made me hit the brake.

We met at the oasis, half way to the camper. I checked to make sure both cars had a pass to get in the gate. We had removed the pass from the old car. My husband found the missing pass in the Escape. I wasn’t ready when my husband was ready to continue. So he wouldn’t worry, I mentioned that I would stop at the store before going to the camper.

I was only a couple of miles down the road when it started to rain. I didn’t know where the windshield wipers were. I didn’t know where the lights were. The car image on the screen showed green lights at the bottom. Red where the taillights were. I thought I had turned on the emergency flashers by mistake. I managed to turn on the windshield wipers. The windows were fogging, I didn’t know where the defrost was. I was in trouble. Then the sky opened and the rain poured down. I stuck behind a truck whose tail light I could see. Reaching a rest stop, I pulled over and phoned my husband. He explained where the lights were. Not driving, I found the defroster.

As soon as I found the missing items, the rain slowed to a drizzle. I’m still not sure how to work the radio and the rest of the gadgets. I planned to read the manual and acquaint myself with the car. It hasn’t happened yet.

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