An uncommon kindness

by +CrystalThieringer    @cdthieringer

Even in grade school, Gloria knew how to work a room. I was both intimidated anGloriad envious that she made friends easily. She was a genuine farm girl, and had to bus every day from her farm in Findlater to our school in Lumsden.

I thought being chauffeured like this was a mark of wealth. After all, I had to walk four blocks.

Oh, how I wanted to take the bus. I wanted to see her farm, and the animals she talked about. My mom insisted on getting permission from Gloria’s mom, and Gloria kept forgetting to ask.

I came up with a brilliant plan. I wrote the note myself in forest-green felt pen with the cursive lettering we’d just learned, on my stationary of choice–newsprint. I thought it was fancy because it didn’t have any lines, though I do recall wishing I had managed to remove it from the pad without tearing the corner. Oh well.

I’d worked hard on the wording. The challenge I faced, however, was how to sufficiently extend an invitation in the delicate curlicues my mother used while avoiding any capital letters after H, because that’s all I’d learned so far. I’m sure it went something like this:

“Dear mrs. C,

How nice it would be if Crystal came to the farm this weekend. Gloria wants her to. she will have fun. sincerestly, mrs.E.”

Why yes, there may have been a made-up word or two, but it sounded grown-up, didn’t it? And for whatever reason, it did the trick. I lugged a few extra articles of clothing the four blocks to school and insisted that Gloria take me home with her.

She may have hesitated, I don’t remember. In the end I convinced her to take me home like the stray cat I was. She had a moment with her mother–I never learned what happened in THAT conversation. I was allowed to stay, I had the best weekend ever, and I got to take a real bag lunch to school on Monday.

I also got grounded for a week afterwards. It was totally worth it.

As elementary school made way for junior high, my family moved away and though we kept in touch sporadically, Gloria and I haven’t seen each other since we were sixth-graders.

Fast forward many decades. My aunt is in the hospital recovering from a significant surgery in Regina. I sent Gloria a note and asked if she would mind dropping off some flowers at the hospital. I wanted more of my budget to go to the gift and less to go to administrative fees. “Don’t worry, C.T.” she said. “I’m on it.”

What I didn’t expect was that she would drop in at the hospital and hang out with my aunt and my cousin–women she’d never met. I didn’t expect that she’d “want to get a feel for who Auntie Bev is,” or that she’d spend that time asking about her family and her friends, talking about farms and her small town, and well, telling her side of  the newsprint story.

Gloria and RedblacksMy aunt has already teased me about it but won’t tell me the details so I have no idea what Gloria’s interpretation of the same event is. I rather suspect she got grounded too.

Gloria is a storyteller. She does it every day as a radio DJ, and she does it well. I’m sure she embellished. I know it. I’m quite certain I was far more innocent than she must have made me seem.

The flowers never did work out because of ICU rules. Before her surgery though, my aunt said, “Your friend made me laugh. She’s quite something.”

When I spoke with my cousin, she said, “Your friend is awesome.”

What an incredible gift, not just for my aunt and my cousin but for me too.  I couldn’t be there, nor could my mother, but Gloria filled in for us and spent time making brave but frightened women laugh. That’s all they wanted–to laugh in the face of difficult times. And all it took was a little one-on-one time.

Such kindness is indelible as green-felt ink on newsprint.  What Gloria did wasn’t difficult. How she did it was incredible, and I’ll never forget it.

In fact, I think I’ll go and find some way to pay it forward. Uncommon kindnesses can change the world.



16 thoughts on “An uncommon kindness

  1. Absolutely loved this. I felt like I was along with you every little step, from the time you wrote the note with green ink.

    Thanks for taking us with you.

    1. Yes, there is. Makes me want to meet up in person with my childhood pal, too. But until that happens, I need to honour her the way she honoured us. It is definitely a full-circle moment!

  2. Not only what she did, but how she did it.

    This makes all the difference, and it’s something to for me to remember. Thank you so much for sharing this charming memory. You’re right; having a friend like this is totally worth it. So is being a friend like this.

    1. I can only hope to do as well. I am much more inclined to crawl into my introverted shell. I have so much to learn…and Gloria is a wonderful example to me.

  3. I love this and its so well written. Gloria sounds like a wonderful person and had I been you, I would have forged that invitation too. Such a great twist how she ended up going to visit your aunt. I love this story. It makes me happy and hopeful about people. Way to go, Gloria. Wish she D.J.ed where I live.

    1. I know you can listen in online, Tonia. That’s how I do it…Just look for 620 CKRM. She’s got the early show though!

  4. Such a wonderful uplifting story. I LUV the message that kindness is not hard, but it touches lives and is always remembered. A great lesson in kindness. Thanks so much for sharing!!

    1. With so much negativity in our world, there was no way I could resist sharing. Thanks for stopping by, Via!

  5. Great story! I just love reading pieces like this. You are right that we already have enough negativity – we need more stories of kindness. Also loved “sincerestly” : )

    1. I sincerestly tried to be a wordsmith even then, Debbie 🙂

  6. I LOVE this story! Gloria sounds like someone I’d enjoy meeting. No wonder you wanted to go to her exotic farmhouse and hang out with her and her people! The letter is precious! (You were such a clever scoundrel–I think I’d’ve liked knowing you then, too. LOL!)

    And quite honestly, bringing laughter in lieu of flowers is the best possible gift ever (short of total instant healing). I think we all ought to send Gloria flowers!

  7. “What Gloria did wasn’t difficult. How she did it was incredible . . .” What a perfect pair of sentences! I’m fortunate to share my life with someone who also demonstrates uncommon kindness on a daily basis. He’s rubbed off on me. Selfless interest is soul filling. Thank you for sharing.

    1. You are fortunate indeed! I’m so glad your soul is filled like this on a regular basis.

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