You never know who is watching your kind act. Just this last weekend I was helping my son move into his new apartment, and had spent a great deal of time with him over two and a half days. I prepared some meals, helped clean and get a few things organized, and took him shopping for a few basic necessities. He’s almost 24 and beginning to realize that life was pretty good while he lived at home. He’s becoming more appreciative of the things I’ve done over the years, and for the things I do for him now. He notices things more often, too. This makes me happy.
He’s always seen me do things for other people. If someone needs something, I do what I can to help, whether it’s a ride somewhere, a few dollars, some prepared meals, or whatever. It’s not a new concept in our family. But what caught me off guard was what happened on Sunday.
The kind act…
After shopping for a few things for the apartment, we were leaving the store and noticed a man holding a sign and asking for help. I didn’t have cash on me, and there was nobody behind me, so I stopped and spoke to him for a few minutes. It was obvious he was homeless and had been for a while. This was not a career for him, and my heart broke.
I asked him when he had last eaten and he said it had been two days. Think about that for a minute. TWO DAYS. When is the last time you went without a meal for two entire days (other than perhaps for health reasons)? I smiled at him and asked him to please stay there because I was going to get him some food. He looked at me a little skeptically and said, “Ok.”
The nearest fast food place was a bit of a trek, so we sped off and got him a bag full of food plus a gift card for at least a couple more meals. As we got closer, I didn’t see him, and I started to panic a little. We don’t have an influx of homeless people in our area, so it’s not like I could drive to the next block and find someone to give the food to. But, there he was, standing behind the pole. I waited until the traffic was light, pulled up next to him, gave him the food and drinks, plus a large cup of ice for later (it was in a Styrofoam cup, so it would keep for a while in the heat), and then I handed him the gift card. He was in shock as he thanked me over and over again. He said he just couldn’t believe what nice people we were. I teared up at that thought because less than $25 is what I spent, but that little bit of kindness blew him away.
We spoke for a few more minutes and I learned he had set up camp in a secluded area nearby, and had been hoping to get enough money for a hotel room for a few days. As much as I wanted to help him, I’m not rich by any means and had done what I could, so we spoke a few more minutes, then I wished him the best of luck and we said our goodbyes.
As we were back in my son’s apartment and getting things put away, cleaning, then going about fixing our supper meal, my son stopped what he was doing, looked at me and quietly said, “Mom, I never did tell you what a good thing it was that you did.” I was in the middle of washing dishes and said, “What? I’m just washing dishes and helping you get set up.” He said, “No, ding dong…the homeless man. That was really cool and I’m proud you’re my mom.” He said he wished he would’ve been thinking clearly when we were out there because he would’ve invited him back to the apartment with us so he could take a shower and have a meal with us (It had been several hours since we were there, and it was dark so he had most certainly moved on; otherwise we would’ve been back over there).
WHEW! Talk about the tears! I was just ‘doin me’ and didn’t realize what an impact that had on him since it’s something he’s seen me do so many times during the course of his life. As an adult, it had a deeper and more meaningful impact on him, even more so than when he was a child. In these small, quiet moments, it impacted him significantly.
Don’t ever think simple acts of kindness go unnoticed or that they don’t have an impact. Those are almost always the most important ones.