notquiteold

Nancy Roman

Peripheral Love

I recently wrote about some small joys that help me get through my worrisome days. One in particular I wrote about was my Zumba lady – a woman who dances with abandon (and a totally different rhythm than the music might seem to indicate). She is so wonderfully happy when she dances that she makes me wonderfully happy too.

This got me to thinking about all the people that come into your life and make you happy. You often don’t even know their names. And they may only make your life better for a minute or so. But those minutes all add up  And you never forget them.

We should celebrate those unforgettable strangers.

Here are a few of the many people who have made my life happier:

A garbage man. A few weeks ago, the garbage truck  was headed down my mom’s street, and the driver saw my 93-year-old mother struggling to pick up the newspaper. She was leaning on a cane and trying to bend low enough to get the paper without losing her precarious balance. He stopped the truck, got out and picked up her paper and brought it to the porch for her. Not only do I appreciate the kindness, but also the laugh he gave me when my mother told me this story. She said, “What a nice man, but tell me, how bad must I look?”

Speaking about getting old, one day in the supermarket, a very old lady approached me in the shampoo aisle. She said she needed more body for her hair, and asked me to help her choose a styling product. She said, “You are so pretty, I figured you would know the best products.” I am not especially pretty, but I felt beautiful that day, thanks to that sweet woman. And on days where I feel especially unpretty, I remember that some people think I look fine.

Although that woman was nice to me personally, sometimes, like the garbage man who stopped to pick up my mother’s paper, people who help others make me happy.

Like the EMT who came when my sister broke her ankle. She was in Vermont and suffered a very bad break in a weird little accident. She was in a lot of pain, the bone sticking out exposed, and it was a very small town, and all she wanted to do was come home. And in the ambulance, the EMT saw how nervous my sister was. He said that Vermont may not exactly have the most sophisticated medical care in the world, but… “Skiing. We have skiing.. we understand broken bones really well.” She was reassured. I am so thankful that he was there to say just the right thing.

We owe medical folk a lot, come to think of it. I’ve seen nurses hold my dad’s hand. Lab technicians who distract my husband with humor so that he doesn’t faint during a blood draw, a doctor who helped me significantly just by saying, “I believe you.”

And veterinarians. Over the Thanksgiving holiday a few years ago, we were faced with the horrible decision all pet owners must face. Our 21-year-old cat was suffering terribly. And given the holiday, our vet was not around. I called another doctor, and we brought him poor old Merlin. I don’t even remember the vet’s name but he was kind and sensitive and gently helped Merlin over to his next life.

Sometimes the medical help isn’t even from a professional. When my dad was in a nursing home, the guy in the next bed was a youngish man. I didn’t know his story – what was wrong with him or why he was there. But he told me once that when my father was restless at night, he would play his guitar and it would calm my dad.How lucky my father was to share his room with such a man.

And when my father was dying at Christmas time, the accounting staff of the nursing home took down the tree in their office and set it up in my father’s room.

 

Then there are people you don’t even know who help you – in powerful, life-changing ways.

I had many friends working in our New York office on 9/11. Several banded together to try to walk out of the city. After walking a long way, they found a cab, and convinced the driver – this wonderful man – to take all of them home to Connecticut. Sure, they paid the cabbie well. But I often think about how frightened the cab driver was too, and how much he must have wanted to be with his own family. But he took everyone home first.

And another man may have saved my life. I was returning from a business trip and my plane was very late. I arrived in the middle of the night to a very deserted airport. I boarded the shuttle bus to the long-term parking lot and the driver of the bus immediately closed the door behind me. He started talking very scary stuff about how we were meant to be alone together. I was terrified. Suddenly another man started banging on the bus door. He banged and banged and finally the bus driver opened the door. The man got on and the driver drove to the remote parking lot. The driver kept asking the guy where his car was parked. The man looked at me. He SAW. He said, “I can’t remember. Bring the lady to her car first.” He said it over and over. And he stood at the door of the bus while I got into my car. He stood there and watched me drive safely away. Somehow, this man who came out of nowhere knew I was in trouble, and he saved me.

Thank you, all you nice acquaintances and kind strangers. My life is better because of you.

 

 

parkinglot

 

 

 

47 Comments

  1. Deb

    Beautiful. Brought tears to my eyes in both a good way, but also with memories of my own experiences.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks – I hope your memories are full of kind strangers who brought you joy.

      Like

  2. The smallest acts of kindness can mean more than we will ever know. Thank you for reminding me to be kind.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We should never forget that even the smallest kindness will be remembered by those you may never get to know.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this post. I was just writing about something similar last night – about those people who come and go from our lives and those on the periphery who bring us joy. Lovely sentiment. Glad you shared that.

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    • I just went over to your blog and read your wise words about being kind in public and in private. You expressed it well. Thanks for leading me to your wise words.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This post was just what I needed today, Nancy. Thanks.

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    • We can all use a bit more kindness. I was inspired to write this because for the first time, I was threatened on Twitter. The words were especially cruel, and the best response was to be especially kind.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It does tend to disarm the jerks.

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  5. That man in the parking lot … oh, my gosh. Bless him.

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    • To this day, I wonder where he came from and how he knew? My plane was the only one arriving that late, and I did not think he was on it. I am not religious at all, but things like that make me wonder.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. With all the nonsense and blackness running around today, this is proof that there are still many good people in this world. Some we don’t even know their names…thank you.

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    • I think we need to concentrate more on kindness… to ourselves, to those we love, and to strangers.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. The last story was scary shit, and the world is full of wonderful people doing amazing things for strangers

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    • I cannot even express how frightened I was, and how miraculous it was for that man to appear – and that he would sense what was going on.

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  8. jono51

    It is very fun to help out people who need it and also to be unexpectedly on the receiving end. Very glad the bus guy was there for you.

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    • That airport bus incident was a very big important kindness, but the lady telling me that I was pretty is the type of small kindness that matters too.

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  9. This is an amazing, uplifting post….it had me smiling, then nearly in tears as I read about the young man playing the guitar in the nursing home for your dad and then reading as fast as I could about your experience in the bus at the airport parking lot. Yes, I think that stranger may have just saved your life. I’m glad he was put there to help you.

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    • So am I. I think about it often. This was in the days before cell phones and I was completely isolated and vulnerable. That man came out of nowhere and understood.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I honor you for honoring those who have extended kindnesses to you and your family. We need to focus on the good to counter-balance that which isn’t so good. Receiving kindnesses encourages us to extend similar kindnesses. How many strangers do we meet in a day? Lots, so there’s lots of kindness to spread around.

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    • You are exactly right…. we have many opportunities every day to be kind… and to accept the kindnesses we are offered.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Reading your wonderful post makes me wonder how many people I have overlooked in my busy, self-absorbed little life. People that make a huge difference.

    I absolutely agree…those little laughs, and big compliments, and vigilant strangers who stand guard. It all adds up.

    I need to pay more attention.

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  12. Love this! There is a lot of kindness in the world. Sometimes we get so focused on the bad that we forget to open our eyes and welcome the good into our hearts. Just so you know, your writing brings me joy.

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    • Thank you so much for your kind words. You made this day a little more memorable.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Thanks for the lift this gave me! With all the scary stuff happening these days it’s so nice to focus just for a little while on the many good people in the world instead of the few evil ones.

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    • Thanks. If we pay attention, we see kindness every day.

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  14. Reblogged this on ugiridharaprasad.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. such a lovely post – scary that last bit though!

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  16. Nancy, this brought tears to my eyes. In dark times it’s good to remember the light that comes from so many sources. Sometimes, when I’m feeling like my own life has been insignificant and meaningless, someone will remind me that I have been a source of light in a dark moment for them, too, sometimes just by being there. Maybe that’s what it’s all about, really…just being there for each other. We never know how much a small act of kindness might mean to someone, and how far the ripples will spread.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s so true. Sometimes we don’t see the good that WE bring into the world. Stay hopeful and kind.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Pam

    Oh, Nancy, I love, love, LOVE this post! It’s good to know all those moments of kindness were not forgotten. This inspires me to keep passing it on!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you.. and yes, we have to concentrate on kindness – both to give it and receive it graciously.

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  18. I like your article, very inspiring and thank you for your post

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  19. These are the things that remind us that there are real, genuine human beings out there. We need to remember that … a lot these days. Thank you.

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  20. And sometimes just a smile can make someone’s day.

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    • That’s so true. When my father was in a nursing home, it used to take me several minutes to walk to his room, because I would see all the people in their wheelchairs in the hallways, and I stopped and said hello to them all. I thought that perhaps for more than one of those people, I may be the only outside person they interacted with all day. The only visitor, if only with a hello.

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      • And those who have passed are cheering you on now with your writing…..karma from the heavens?

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        • That’s a lovely way to think about it. Thanks.

          Like

  21. angelanoelauthor

    I love, love this. I know more kindness surrounds me than I’m able to see. But when I open my eyes, and pay attention, the goodness seems to come from all around. It’s up to me to not only be that stranger for others, but to SEE others being awesome to me. Thank you for the post!

    Like

  22. Love this!! It’s so fruitful to look back at what we can be grateful for

    Like

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