I have a new blog (my old one of donnathomson.blogspot.com is still going and mostly talks about Nick and the family) called The Compassionate Neighbourhood. I started talking about kindness. Here's my latest post:
In life and death situations, sometimes there is a sense of dread and sometimes there is sense of destiny.
On April 25, 1975, I was working alone at my part-time job at a Montreal jewelry shop. My father lay in a coma at the Montreal General Hospital three weeks after his third and catastrophic stroke. I was polishing the glass counter in the shop when I felt a wave of anxiety. Suddenly, I knew that I had to close the shop and go to my father. A young man pushed the door open and I said something like, “I’m sorry but the shop is closed. I have to go - I have an emergency.” The man offered to give me a lift - his car was parked just outside. I thanked him and on the way to the hospital, he told me that his father had passed away at the same hospital. I remember sitting beside my Dad that day, watching a black ball inside a glass jar rise and fall. It was his respirator. I noticed that there was even a setting called ‘sigh’. A couple of hours later, I was back at home when the phone rang. It was my mother - she was crying. “Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t you call to tell me?” The doctors hadn’t said anything to me, but they called my mother to let her know that my father had only about twenty minutes to live. She knew that I had been with Dad earlier and thought I just hadn’t bothered to relay the news. Later that day, my father died.
I am not sure if I believe in angels per se, but I have always thought there was something mystical about the day that my father died. I wonder about the man who came into the shop and drove me to the hospital. I wonder about my sudden need to leave the shop. Within the spectrum of kindness and helpfulness, this is the extreme.
As a final word on kindness, I want to share the story of another such encounter with extreme goodness.
Sam McEwan Steward is an old friend who offered to share her story. After living in the UK for a number of years with her family and expecting her second child, Sam moved back to Canada. This is her story:
Upon arrival back in Brantford, our original hometown, we got down to the business of settling in. An OBGYN was of utmost importance with my due date fast approaching, and I was happy to get an appointment later in the month. It was early October when we moved into our new home. Initially, we seemed to go unnoticed in the neighbourhood, but no worries - we were busy establishing our new lives and putting everything into its rightful place. Hallowe'en was a few weeks away and I was anxious to have my daughter participate. I always enjoyed being creative so handmade an adorable ladybug costume to mark the event.
October 30th was highlighted on the calendar. It was the date of my appointment, likely the last time I would see the doctor before the welcome delivery of our second child. There was a sharp chill in the air that evening; numbing, winter was on her way and making her icy presence known.
The next hours were a blur. I was in the grip of an unbearable pain. Later, I thought that my eyes had cried all the tears of a lifetime. Instead of making plans to contact the paper with the Birth Announcement of our child; a son, Dan was sent to a private room with a tattered and torn phone book to find a funeral director. Our son had passed away without ever taking a single breath. Yet, as a result of our son's passing, a friendship like no other was born. To this day, Dan does not know what attracted him to a particular funeral director, but to him the name stood out; called to him, I guess. It is strange how things happen, how they are meant to be. Our funeral director was in fact one of our new neighbours living directly across the street. Steve was there for us every painstaking step along the way; guiding, nurturing and even nudging a much needed chuckle or smile out of two grieving parents. Steve and Chris, his wife, would become cherished friends; our rocks, our shoulders to cry on. They helped us put one foot in front of the other, listened when they knew that was what was required, offered a helping hand, advice when that was needed. Acts of kindness were too many to mention. They are the Godparents of our three other children, they are our guardian angels, they were the answer to our prayers when friends from our past were nowhere to be found. I suspect those folks left us alone, not knowing what to say or what to do.
Bobbie Steward, our Angel in heaven would have been 25 years of age this Hallowe'en, Angel Blessings my sweet child.
These are two stories of being led by a kind person through a desperate time. I am not a sentimental person, but I do believe that there are times in life that require acceptance. Nothing good can come of analysing possible motives on the part of gentle, helpful people of the extreme variety. Perhaps this is when we can say "angel".