I was reminded this week of an act of kindness that I had done long ago and totally forgotten about. Since it involved a hike of sorts, I decided to write about it here.
Last week, I caught up with my friend Bill for a beer after work. He and I worked together 15 years ago when I was a contractor for his company. Also working there was a lady who I will call "Robin." She was legally blind. I forget what had caused her problem, but she wore glasses like Coke bottles and needed a special magnification device to see a tiny area of her computer screen at any one time. Her husband would give her a ride to and from work. He was older than she and was retired, even 15 years ago. At times, on nice days, she would walk the three miles to work, which I always thought was pretty courageous of her. I would see her on occasion after I no longer worked there. She was a huge fan of opera, and now and then, after her husband got too ill (he has since passed away) to go to things like that, I would take her to an opera - something she much appreciated and enjoyed. Robin was about my age, maybe a year or two older, which would make her coming up on retirement now.
So last week, while we sipped our delicious Legend Brewing Company brews and caught up, Bill said, "So, did you hear about Robin?" It turns out that she was diagnosed with terminal bladder cancer and was given four months to live. That was three months ago. She had retired immediately - good move. I got her phone number and called her a couple of days later. We chatted about how she was doing - pretty well, given the circumstances - and a cruise she hopes to live long enough to take in April. I encouraged her to buy the tickets, set that stake in the ground. She asked if I would be interested in going to the Richmond Symphony concert this coming weekend to hear Mozart's Requiem. I told her that I would likely get tickets and take her, and would email her.
So I emailed her later about getting the tickets, and she sent me a nice reply - how she was looking forward to the concert, would probably register for the cruise, and how she had enjoyed the operas that I had taken her to a few times. Then she said this: "I still remember your taking me out on the rocks off Belle Island one warm January day, on our extended lunch break."
I searched my memories. At first, I had no recollection of this, but gradually, the faintest of images came to me of guiding Robin down there to this beautiful spot so she could see the rapids. I had left my assignment with her company in January 1998, 15 years ago, and had taken her there before I left. It would have been difficult for her even with a arm to hold on to, but she had expressed an interest in getting close to the river, and we had gone that one day. I had totally forgotten about this, but she hadn't, and clearly it was a great memory for her even after all of these years for her to mention that specifically in her note.
So here is the moral to my story: when you perform an act of kindness for someone, even a tiny act of kindness, you very well might forget about it later. But they won't. And the same is true if instead you perform an act of meanness.
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