notquiteold

Nancy Roman

Terms of Endearment

I can easily come up with dozens of little kindnesses that I’ve experienced lately. If I go back further, I can come up with hundreds. Maybe thousands in my whole lifetime, which is about 2/3 of a century now. I’m grateful for those kindnesses and also grateful that I remember them. I’d hate to let a kindness be forgotten.

But I am now thinking of kindnesses that I myself have offered, and whether it is a good thing or a bad thing, I seem to have forgotten most of them.

Maybe it is a virtue to pay a kindness and let it go.

But what if it is because I have been stingy with my own kindnesses?

I really hope not. I know I pay a lot of compliments. And not just lip service – I try to recognize excellence – to notice and call it out.

I tell people when I like their shoes, or when they have a great idea, or when their kids are fun to be around. I tell loved ones I like how they smell when I hug them – because I do.

I try to be considerate. I hold the door for people. I let people cut in line at the checkout – or change lanes on the road. I pick up trash.

And when I observe someone being nice to other people, I tell them that they made my day better too. Yesterday I was in the drug store and an old lady (probably my age) was shopping with a teenager. And the kid said, “I’ll put it back. It’s too much money for eye shadow, Grandma.” The lady said, “I don’t think it’s expensive if you like it.”So I went up to them and said to the woman, “That’s a really nice thing to say.”

So I guess I do a little to contribute to the kindness in the world.

But I think I could do better.

I need to be a little bigger in my kindness.

I’m trying. I joined my community’s preservation and beautification organization – and I helped with their website, and I planted daffodils this fall, and sorted returnables for their recycling program. Not much really, but it’s a start.

I think maybe I am a little cautious because the biggest favor I ever did someone backfired. And I was hurt.

Years ago I had a very dear friend, who I will call Anna. We met at work, and after both of us moved on to other jobs, we stayed close. We went to the movies together, and out dancing, and shopping. We had dinner once a week. We used to call our dinners, “My Dinner With Andre” dinners, since we had long, crazy, wonderful conversations. Anna drove over to my place late one night when my boyfriend broke up with me so I would have someone to cry with. And I took her to the hospital when she needed outpatient surgery.

We had been friends for about ten years when Anna called me early one Saturday and asked me to meet her for breakfast. Over coffee she told me that she had gotten herself into serious financial difficulties, including pressure from the IRS. I loved this woman. So I bailed her out. I loaned her enough money to pay off her tax debt, her other past due bills, and the next month’s rent.

But then the worst thing happened. And it wasn’t that Anna didn’t pay me back. It was that she dropped out of my life. She made excuses why she couldn’t meet for dinner, or see a movie. After a while she didn’t even answer my phone calls.

I felt horrible. I thought at the time – and still do – that she couldn’t pay me back and that was embarrassing for her. And so she couldn’t face me.

I did finally hear from her years later. Out of the blue, she phoned me. Said she was sorry she had stayed away and wanted to see me. I met her at a diner for lunch. She was the same sweet woman I had cared so much about. She was also broke again and asked me for money. I gave her everything I had in my wallet and went home. I never saw her again.

It broke my heart.

I have been reflecting on this whole experience lately, as I have been thinking so much about Kindness and being a good human being.

But the moral of this story is not ‘Don’t lend money to a friend.’

For I would give Anna the money again.

The loss of money was not meaningful, and besides, I didn’t lose it. I used it to give respite – however short that respite may have been – to a friend when she needed it. It wasn’t the loss of money. It was the loss of friendship.

There are lots of good reasons why friendships end, but money should not be one of those reasons.

And I don’t blame Anna either. Whatever hardships –  whatever demons – she was experiencing – who am I to judge?

No.

My mistake – and it was MINE – was that I did not discuss the terms.

Not the terms of the loan.

The terms of our friendship.

The Terms of Endearment.

For here is what I should have said:

“Anna, this money is a gift to you because you are my friend and I want to help you. If someday you can return this gift to me, I would accept it with love. We will always be friends, regardless. I’ll call you and you’ll call me, and we will have breakfast and go to the movies and have great intriguing conversations. Our friendship is a gift. It is not on loan.”

 

 

generosity

 

 

26 Comments

  1. Lovely lesson. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I try each day to be kind, compassionate and understanding and above all non judgemental, is it easy not always but at least I know I am trying and doing the best I know how to do

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  3. That is a wise lesson. But I think that people when they’re desperate and borrowing have trouble hearing it.

    I only give money when I can afford to, and I never expect it back for exactly the reasons you mentioned. I gave my (late) friend Ray money many times over the years, and while I always told her it was a gift, she often mentioned the money. It weighed on her. Sad how difficult money can make a relationship.

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    • It sounds like you at least spoke of it. The problem for Anna and me is that we SHOULD have at least talked about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a lovely lesson. You are so sweet, Nancy. A better person than me. ❤

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    • I am not a better person than you. I am just reflecting on my past and trying to be a better person than I was.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Aw….. that’s sad that such a dear friendship ended because of money. Your thoughts on the situation are spot on, though…. I guess there are terms for “legal” loans, and maybe there should be informal terms for personal loans too.

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    • I really regret that things ended the way they did. I thought when she finally called me again we could fix our friendship. But it didn’t happen.

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  6. Tough times are hard – to experience and to watch.
    Your “terms” at the end are so on target – and kind.
    You didn’t loan, you shared – and she didn’t understand (and was/is so embarrassed to feel like she took advantage of your kindness)

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    • I’m not sure what I would do if a similar situation happened again. Probably the same thing.

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  7. This is a really thoughtful anecdote. I think we all too quickly jump to the conclusion that loaning (or giving) money to friends is bad. I had a similar experience recently, where a former work friend (who I had not stayed that close to) called me in the depths of despair right before the holidays. She and her husband and her small child were about to be evicted from their home. This is a very proud hardworking person, so I knew she wasn’t just being a deadbeat. I could not give her all that she wanted, and I admit I was uncomfortable helping her at all (“why me?” I wondered) but I decided to give her a smaller amount, and I told her that I didn’t expect for her to pay it back. I saw later that she used the money I gave her to buy Christmas presents for her daughter. Part of me felt that she should have used it to pay off her debts, but then she sent sweet photos and a card telling me how much it meant. It was a lesson to me in (1) not judging people for their circumstances and choices and (2) how much it meant for BOTH of us that I was able to help.

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    • I like your story. I am glad you helped make her daughter’s Christmas a happy one.

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  8. I find your posts very inspirational. Kindness is very important to me too, and I am always trying so hard to work towards being a kinder person.
    Every time I read your post, I am reassured that I am on the right path.
    Please keep writing.

    Like

    • Thanks. I just need to concentrate on Kindness this year, and it appears that I am not the only one. Perhaps it will make a small difference in the world.

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  9. This is a wonderful and important lesson. Thanks for sharing the story!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. We can not control how others respond to our kindnesses. I guess, for me, the moral of the story would be to give without expectation – which I am certain you did – but it’s still difficult, isn’t it? It appears you were taken advantage of, and that’s not fair to you. It’s one thing not to receive gratitude, it’s another thing entirely for someone to use your friendship for selfish means. That person is not a friend.

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    • I think perhaps that she was a friend – and a good one for many years – but was damaged by circumstances. I try to think of her kindly.

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  11. Pam

    Nancy, you are a lovely, kind-hearted soul and an inspiration for me.

    But I have to agree with Irene. I can’t help but think that your friend used you the second time she asked for money. Her friendship meant more to you than the money, but for Anna, the money meant more than your friendship. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s the way it appears from the outside.

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    • I think you are right, but I also think that she was damaged by her circumstances. Maybe she held out for a long time, and just couldn’t cope any more.

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  12. Reblogged this on Living: the ultimate team sport and commented:
    Nancy and I seem to be on the same kindness path. I’m certain many of you are as well. Isn’t it a welcome relief to read of the good that occurs in the world?

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  13. So true. Money can really mess with relationships. I love your “Terms of Endearment” and may have to borrow it in the future. Please accept my undying gratitude as payback in advance.

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  14. Thanks or sharing this! I think the best way to deal with the brokenness in the world is to show it more kindness than it thinks it deserves.

    Like

  15. It makes no sense to me to not be kind. That’s just the best way to live your life…

    Like

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