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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window

Issue Date: November 4, 2021

Gestures of Kindness

By Jane Thibodeau Martin,



**********

The last couple of years have been difficult for most of us, I think. Sometimes it seems we have all forgotten the social glues of respect and kindness. I don't remember a time like this before, and I am 65 years old.

But then, a few people choose to restore my faith in humanity just when I am most in need of that reassurance.

In the Marinette community, two family members recently were touched and lifted by anonymous and unexpected kind gestures.

My sister was in the drive-through line at Starbucks, treating herself to a fancy coffee. When she got to the service window, she was informed that the person in line ahead of her had paid for her order. She sent my siblings and I a text, sharing her utter surprise at this sweet gesture. I have no idea who did this, but if you are reading this, you are one of my personal heroes for giving my hardworking little sister a surprise like that. And when she shared her story it with her siblings, you delighted three more people as well.

Friday, my mom and sister returned from her doctor's appointment to my mother's house and found two carved jack-o-lanterns on her front steps. They were cute as can be, and since my mother hasn't had a pumpkin carver in house for many years, she was beyond happy to see these. My sister contacted "the usual suspects" who may have done this to thank them, but everyone denies responsibility. Well, whoever you are, you made her day. And when you make her day, you make the day for my whole family as well. This gift was perfect for mom, and you are so thoughtful.

My last recent experience of someone making a kind gesture was at my home church. There was a younger mom in the communion line, carrying a tiny baby, trailed by a toddler and a preschooler. She was apparently at church alone, and wrangling three kids is not an easy task. On her way back down the aisle, the toddler inexplicably refused to walk. The mom coaxed, tugged his arm, and scolded; but he was stubborn and would not continue. You just knew that she was embarrassed and frustrated, and if you are a parent, you've been there. A young family man seated not too far ahead of us was a man of action, though. With a word to his wife, he went up to the woman, and offered to take the baby. She indicated she prefer he take the toddler, so the man scooped up the recalitrant little guy, and escorted the obviously grateful mom to the back of church, then returned to his own pew.

It takes a little courage to get involved like that; they may have been acquaintances but I didn't get the impression they were friends or related. But I am probably not the only person witnessing this event to have thought "Why didn't I think to help that woman?" and also, "That man is a really considerate person."

People like these three really restore my faith in my fellow man. And they do something more, too. They inspire me to look around for the opportunities for me to do something similar for someone else, and I know I don't have to look far or hard.

It seems nastiness and strident public discourse has become unremarkable, because we witness so much of it that it becomes depressingly "normal." It is also an appalling example to the next generations, especially young children. But each of us can set a different tone, and I know which group I aspire to be in. I want to be more like the person ahead of my sister at Starbucks, my mom's anonymous pumpkin gifter, and the man who chose to get involved to help a mom at church.

You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: JanieTMartin@gmail.com.


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