Random acts of kindness 2

Oct 18

Random acts of kindness 2

When you carry out a random act of kindness, who benefits? I think the answer is obvious.

As part of my work I regularly visit old people’s homes to work with the staff. Only rarely do I have contact with the residents and when ‘Jim’ began chatting to me this morning I realised that, even when I do, it is only the most superficial form of communication on my part. I’m usually preoccupied and eager to get on with the role I’m paid to do. I’m always polite and friendly but never truly engaged. But today, because of my intention to do a kindness every day, I chose to look right into Jim’s eyes and participated in a conversation simply by being interested in what this elderly but eager man had to say.

To be honest, I can’t truly call my decision to listen, really listen, to Jim this morning an act of kindness, because it should be standard practice, the way we always treat our fellow human beings but, sadly, isn’t. But how I was rewarded for my attention! This fascinating man spoke briefly of his experiences in the war, and of coming home. He told how all of the young returners, he amongst them, had groaned and grumbled about their lot yet now he knew how lucky they really were, how grateful they should have been that they had survived with life and limb. This is a man who had come to share with the carers┬áhis own confusion over his wife’s far more serious confusion; he couldn’t understand why she wanted him to hang out the washing. What washing? He didn’t know what she was talking about, after all, their every need is met by the home. He recognised that he himself was being affected by his wife’s condition – and still he talked with humility about his gratitude for his life, then and now.

He was light-hearted, funny and self-aware – there was nothing mawkish about his gratefulness and appreciation – and I thanked him from the bottom of my heart for speaking with me this morning, only too aware that I was the one who came away richer for ‘my’ kindness.