I can't circumambulate kindness without thinking of the kindest person I know: my husband, Chris. Living with him the past 25 years has made me kinder and more patient. I've taught him a few things, too, if you know what I mean. But since I was already in my early 30s when we met, I'm still trying to catch up with him in the kindness department.
No one before or since has been a better friend. He's the only person I've ever known who I feel sure has my best interests at heart. Chris sees what's in my heart, and it helps me become that person on the outside, though I will always be a work in progress. He's that kind of father, business person and citizen, too.
No wonder when I saw this kindness quote, I thought of him...
Chris didn't propose to me romantically by hiding a diamond in my dessert at a fancy restaurant or skywriting the question in the clouds. In fact, he didn't really propose at all. One day he just gave me a big hug and said, "We're going to end up married, aren't we?" and I nodded. From then on we just talked places and times.
Chris is not much for those overly romanticized holidays, Valentine's Day and New Year's Eve (nor am I), big diamonds and bigger weddings (same here), but he knows how to nurture me with kindness.
For the first seven years of our marriage we worked at the same place (where we met). Then I worked from home for the next 16 years until he retired and started his own business. During most of that time, we lived in a two-storey house, and he would get up, get dressed and leave for work without waking me. I awoke about the time he was leaving to the aroma of fresh-brewed coffee wafting up through the stairwell to our bedroom.
So he made the coffee. Big deal. Probably because HE wanted some, right? But there's more.
When I dressed and went downstairs, I would always find that he set out a clean mug for me to use. He also left me little post-it notes. One said, "I love you." Another said, "Have a great day." Still another was just a smiley face, like the cream in the cup in the photo.
Kindness not only made the coffee, but it said good morning, too!
Now that Chris works from home as I do (a room away), he performs any number of kindnesses without a thought. Like lunch, for example. When I worked at home by myself, I often ate late, poorly or not at all. By the time he got home, my blood sugar was doing scary stuff. He now makes lunch everyday for us, in addition to dinner, and he enjoys doing it--really. Lucky me!!
I have a lot of arthritic problems and last fall had reconstructive foot surgery. My foot was in a hard cast for two months with no weight-bearing allowed and a walking cast for another month with gradual weight-bearing. I can't count the number of kindnesses he rendered. Caregiving is a tough job, but the minister said, "For better or worse, in sickness and in health," right? This is what was meant, I'm sure.
I knew I needed this surgery for a couple years, and because the recovery is pretty tough, I put it off as long as I could. Last August, as we prepared to go together to my six-month appointment with the orthopedist, we knew it was to tell her I was finally ready to schedule the operation, that the pain had become unbearable. Part of what kept me from doing it sooner was knowing how it would impact Chris' life. But on the way to the doctor's we had a joint apparition that got me thinking about it differently.
As we approached an intersection between our home and the interstate, we both saw a deer lying limp in the middle of the road, as if struck down by a vehicle. Brake lights of cars ahead went on and off and on again as people tried to steer around. We both commented to the other, nearly at the same time, "Look at the deer; it's been hit!" or something to that effect. But as the light turned red and we pulled into the right turn lane, stopped alongside the "deer," we both gasped.
What was really in that intersection was a bunch of cardboard boxes that had fallen off someone's truck in such a way as to resemble the body of a deer, if you can imagine. It had been raining, so the boxes were soaked, which softened the angles and added to the effect. We both chuckled at what we thought we'd seen, then almost immediately realized how odd it was that we had the same apparition at the same time.
I knew almost immediately I was that "deer." After some thought I said, "It means we're in this together--the surgery thing; doesn't it?"
"That's the way I see it," he replied. I breathed a sigh of relief. No deer was dead that day at that intersection. I would get up and walk again too, with Chris' help and care.
It isn't glamorous, but that's what marriage is. And glamor isn't all it's cracked up to be anyway.
Sometimes I was a pretty grumpy patient. It's no fun being confined and needing help when you're used to doing what you want when you want it. Chris usually broke the tension with humor. Here's an example: In preparation for surgery, the doctor required me to scrub my foot for three days prior with an antibacterial wash, including using a toothbrush in-between my toes and under the nails. It still makes me shiver to think of it! Chris did the toothbrush part for me, and it was nearly unbearable--like nails on a blackboard, except that I was the one being screeched and scratched in a very sensitive spot. During my recovery, when I was especially grumpy, he always threatened to get out that toothbrush and work on my toes again (and more) if I didn't lighten up.
It did the trick. We both laughed, tension dispelled. What a kind man I found. What a kind man found me! Isn't it romantic? Even makes me feel a tad glamorous now that I can walk again, loop my arm through his and go out to dinner for the first time in three months!
I'll close with this