Investing Time and Kindness in Strangers

Investing Time and Kindness in Strangers

Expanding investing in others including timeless kindnesses--often spontaneous with casual contact with family, friends, workmates and strangers--was inspired by three of the responses from last week’s Investing in Others’ Offspring.

What a great segment of opportunistic memories!! Marian Anderson lived quite a life, and her voice is still a fabulous testimony!  People should always try to grow and bloom where they are planted. If we oldsters can help sprinkle some good plant food along the way to help, The Son smiles.... it’s a good thing!  B

I did look up Marion Anderson on YouTube singing at the Lincoln Memorial. The crowd was unbelievable. Her vocal range was amazing between the two songs I heard. The way I was raised color, never entered into the picture.  How refreshing to read about how certain individuals recognize talent and INVEST time and energy in that person. H.  To: H: Eleanor Roosevelt arranged the Lincoln Memorial event.

Thank you for this blog. As a single woman, I've spent much of my life investing in "other's offspring", either through teaching or caregiving. It has been fairly rare (although it has happened a few times this year) to hear about one's influence through someone "now grown" who remembers and expresses appreciation. Your blog was a timely encouragement to me. J.

Rosie’s son responded to the sympathy card I sent by calling to say thanks which gave me an opportunity to share some stories about his mom.  I told him I was in the middle of writing a blog when I learned about her passing and was including her story in the blog.  He asked if he could have a copy. Afterwards, he sent me an email thanking me for sharing a part of his mom’s life he’d never heard.

Some investments, as B mentioned in her response: Bloom where you are planted and sprinkle some plant food…often result in surprise dividends stemming from nudges to be alert for spontaneous openings. One never knows how a clerk under pressure is uplifted when a caring customer smiles and offers friendly support; when a customer is relieved of their basket return in the parking lot; offering help in gathering someone’s dropped papers or packages; Yes, notice strangers--friends you have never met, as Jim Ward used to declare, and offer time/kindnesses.

Jim kept an eye on the side of the road for a stalled vehicle out of gas or flat tire.  He didn’t even have to think about whether or not to stop even when in a suit returning from officiating at a wedding, funeral or on vacation with a car full of kids. He’s helped people after church changing tires and jump start dead batteries. Time and kindness described Jim to a tee.

As I was beginning to gather information regarding time/kindness investments in strangers, Mac called. When I described the up-coming subject, he shared what he’d just experienced. As he was parking his trike at the grocery store, a car pulled in beside him. The driver got out and said, “What a beautiful motorcycle; I’ve never seen a silver one.”

“I’ve put lots of miles on it driving around town. Would you like a ride?”

“Oh, not today,” she replied. “But I hope you will be careful.”

“I have to be,” he assured her, “because in two weeks I’m going to celebrate my 88th birthday.”

“How interesting”, she mused, “because my birthday is this week, and I will be 97”.”

“What’s your secret?” Mac asked.  “I thank the Lord every day”. She answered.

Mac invested time and attention in a lady he didn’t know who merely admired his trike, engaging in kind conversation, even teasing about a ride. Connection and laughter for a couple of minutes between two strangers produced valuable dividends to both for a long time and Mac and others will share the encounter.

Our Mother intentionally invested kindness in strangers even though she was introverted. The first time we became aware of her willingness to violate her normal quiet spirit was when she was the first one hired by Alcoa aluminum factory and given a position unlike anyone else’s--matron of the ladies’ room—an easy job because keeping it clean and supplied didn’t demand any more energy than she was used to giving, and she didn’t have to talk very much. However, the rest room turned out to be her office.

During the periods when there was nothing to do, she read devotions, magazines and books and wrote letters to her children. When the female workers, all much younger and tougher than she, would find her alone, they began to confide in her. Mom never claimed to be a counselor, but she became one because she was a wise listener and experienced in the field of betrayal and handling difficult times. She had true wisdom and understanding and kept their problems confidential, offering advice only when asked. Privately, she prayed for them. Word got around and many workers sought her out for advice.

While Mom was engaged in a 40-hour work week, she still made time to visit family and church members who were hospitalized or in rest homes.  I accompanied her on many visits and was impressed with the confidence that she exhibited because some people in rest homes would behave strangely but Mom just took it in stride and knew how to have a good visit despite the interruptions. In some instances, I would be very uncomfortable, but she knew what she was doing.  I learned so much from her.

After Mom retired from Alcoa, she was finally free to do what she had always wanted to do: make visits to local rest homes and to the VA hospital nearby as a Red Cross Volunteer. She listened, wrote letters, and took cupcakes that she had baked. She spent one whole day every week and sometimes more.

Mom had some very funny stories to share when patients said and did unusual and embarrassing things. She would laugh about it and behave as though everything was normal. It takes a special person to make these kinds of visits.  When she retired from Red Cross visitation, she humbly accepted the honor and special award for the number of volunteer hours she had logged in. But her joy was knowing she had invested time and kindness in short term and long-term patients who were lonely, had suffered war injuries, unable to do much for themselves and needed to know that they were valued by others.

Mom, like Edith Gaynor, was a marvelous example for her six children who have endeavored to invest time and kindness like she did every time we have the opportunity.

Please share your comments, experiences and questions using my email.

And if there is a subject you’d like to discuss, let me know.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…and above all these virtues, put on love which binds them all together in perfect unity. Col.3:12, 14 (NIV).

I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord. They are plans for peace…to give you a future filled with hope. Jer. 29:11 (CEB).

Jesus said: So, in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matt. 7:12 (NIV). Also called the Golden Rule.