Showing posts with label Kindness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kindness. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Reflections on Our 2014 Family Reunion

In 1988 my parents organized the first family reunion for me and my 5 siblings, our spouses and children. At that time there were 17 of us. Today we number 34.

And yet, every 3-4 years most of us have been able to gather together at the beach, thanks to the generosity of Mom and Dad.

This year was the first time we were missing the key person who made it all possible: DAD

My mother had mixed feelings about having another reunion after his death in November of 2012. But she and Dad had always said these reunions were one of the best investments they’d ever made. They took great joy in watching their children and other family members have fun together and form strong bonds.

And so, Mom decided she wanted to continue the tradition. We all came together last week at the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

What she and the rest of us didn't know was that my sister’s husband Gary had figured out a way for us to “see” Dad all week. Gary designed a banner that included our favorite picture of Dad from a previous reunion, along with purple letters and gold lines (LSU colors).

During dinner the first night, Gary slipped out with two of the guys and hung the banner so it would be visible anytime you looked out from the house.

When he came back inside, he guided Mom over to the gigantic sliding doors. The rest of us followed behind. The tears flowed freely at the moment we all looked out and saw that beautiful tribute to the man who’d made these reunions possible.

Every day we could feel Dad’s spirit with us as we ate meals, laughed together or played in the pool below the banner. We knew he’d take great pride in the fun we were having.

The banner had to be taken down Thursday evening as the threat of Hurricane Arthur loomed near. But that wasn't the end of it.

Friday evening Gary spread the banner on one of the dining room tables and encouraged everyone to write a note on it, expressing what the week had meant to them. Reading those beautiful, heart-felt messages stimulated more tears and hugs as we reminisced about Dad and what he’d meant to our family.

As I now reflect on that special week, I’m filled with gratitude for the legacy Dad left to his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Yes, we’ve been enriched by his thriftiness and generosity, which made these special times with family possible. But more importantly, we continue to aspire to be better human beings because of his own humble, kind and sensitive nature. His spirit will inspire us for the rest of our lives.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

“Be Kind” – My Father’s Simple Yet Profound Philosophy

My amazing parents

“Keep a good heart. That’s the most important thing in life. It’s not how much money you make or what you can acquire. The art of it is to keep a good heart.” 
- Joni Mitchell, Canadian singer-composer (1943- )

If you’re looking for a better way to live your life, you can’t go wrong with the approach taken by the special man I’m proud to call my father.

I’ve been lucky to have my parents live close by since 1988. When my husband Lee and I were visiting them recently, the conversation turned to my dad and his unique ability to build positive relationships with everyone he meets. To my knowledge, he’s never made an enemy in his life. Just the opposite. Those who meet him are drawn to him and enjoy his company immensely.

As we were exploring why he’s so popular, my mother summarized the reason well: “It’s because he always tries to be kind to everyone.”

I immediately recognized the truth in her statement. I recalled Dad’s story about the months he spent in the hospital during World War II recovering from a near-fatal injury. He told us how he made a point of treating the nurses with compassion. Despite his own pain, he understood that their work was not easy, and he didn’t want to create more problems for them. So Dad was considerate and patient when making any requests.

Over the past 20 years, this tough 90 year-old man has been back in the hospital for surgery and other health-related issues more times than any of us would like to remember. I got to observe first-hand his consistent kindness to those who cared for him there, even though he was the one needing the attention and care.

An incident that occurred during one of those hospital stays illustrates his approach. I’d stopped by the hospital early one morning on my way to work. Dad was in quite a bit of pain because the nurse was late administering his pain medication. As soon as I discovered that, I jumped up to go look for a nurse. I’ll never forget his words before I left the room. “Now be nice when you ask them.”

Another example…

Years ago when he was in strong physical condition, Dad was a favorite among the elderly widows in the neighborhood. He was the one they turned to when they needed something done in the yard or in their house. He cheerfully fixed whatever was needed and refused to accept any payment. So he and Mom were the beneficiaries of a parade of baked goods from their kitchens.

I admire my father for developing this lifelong attitude, bringing kindness and compassion to every interaction he has. It’s an approach that’s been absorbed by his six children and their spouses as well as his grandchildren. Quite a legacy to leave, since the world desperately needs more people who pay attention to the needs and feelings of others, not just their own.

Thanks, Dad. You’re my hero.
"I will smile at friend and foe alike and make every effort to find, in him or her, a quality to praise, now that I realize the deepest yearning of human nature is the craving to be appreciated." - Og Mandino, American author (1923-1996)