my mom and first communion

I miss my mom.

Like, really, really, REALLY miss her.

Of course, I think of her and miss her every day, but today it is different.

Today, Brian is making his First Holy Communion.

I have been looking forward to and dreading this day for weeks.

I have felt edgy and unfocused, my stomach has been tied up in knots.

This morning, I walked into our family room, just like I did on Emma and Kate’s first communion days. Only, unlike those mornings, this time, the room is empty.

Quiet.

Each of those mornings, when I went to sit in “my spot” on the sofa and turn on ABC news, my mom was already sitting in my spot, the television changed to NBC.

“Good morning, Baby,” she looked up at me and smiled. Her face had changed so much, the scleroderma had really taken its toll.

I said, “Good morning” back; however, I was not sincere. I was more annoyed that my morning ritual had been altered. I’d have to walk a whole two extra feet to sit down on the couch and listen to a different newscaster.

Why wasn’t I more focused on the journey she made to be here, in my family room, the day of our children’s special occasion? How difficult it was for her to pack for the trip? To make her way to the car? To sit in the car all of those hours from Chicago to Fairfield?

No. I was more worried about my morning routine being slightly changed and the day ahead.

I knew how sick she was…you could see how sick she was, how people looked at her when we pushed her into the church in the wheelchair. She was withering away, her face almost mask-like, her skin gray.

Somehow, it was easier for me to just revert back to my younger, adolescent jerk-self, when all I did was walk around with a gigantic chip on my shoulder and talk back to my mom, than it was to just sit with her.

It hurts to just sit…to just sit and be with the pain.

The morning after Kate’s first communion, when I scrolled through pictures, I realized with a panic that I deleted the only picture of my mom with Kate because I didn’t like the way I looked. We didn’t have a single picture with my mom and Kate in her dress.

“Kate, would you pleeeeease put your dress back on?” I pleaded.

Sitting at the bottom of the stairs, her arms folded across her chest, tears in her eyes, she cried, “Please don’t make me put that thing back on! I can’t stand that dress. Please! No!”

I tried reasoning with her, “We don’t know how much longer we have with Grandma. Please. She’s really sick. I don’t have any pictures of the two of you together in your dress. Please, honey. You can take it off right after the picture.”

Even as I said those words, I didn’t believe it…

My mom will always be here.

It was those words that convinced Kate, she said, “Okay” and walked up the stairs to change.

Minutes later, she walked into the family room in her crumpled dress and sat next to my mom. I grabbed the wilted floral headpiece and planted it on Kate’s head, her bedhead hair soft and curly around her face.

I snapped the picture.

image

Mom complained that she didn’t like the picture because her robe looked like a straight-jacket.

I posted it anyway.

A few hours later, my mom left.

As they pulled away from our house, her head barely clearing the passenger-side window, she locked eyes with me. I could see she was crying. I started crying too.

Did she know?

Did I know?

One month later, she was gone.

That was three years ago.

I am worried I will cry during mass this morning. The songs, all of those familiar songs, from my childhood are now a part of my own children’s history.

I used to get so annoyed with my mom at church. She sang louder than anyone. It wasn’t only that she was loud…it was also more like opera singing with a head-bob. It was seriously embarrassing.

She couldn’t sing toward the end because the disease started hardening her lungs…it was hard enough to just breathe.

I will take some deep breaths today and think of her.

I will stand behind our son as he receives this sacrament.

I believe.

Maybe I will sing really loudly this morning too.

I miss my mom.

savoring every moment.

When I was newly pregnant with our third child, I spent the better part of the day and night on the sofa curled up in the fetal position trying not to get sick. Somehow I had forgotten the morning (ALL DAY!) sickness of my first two pregnancies and realized relatively quickly that although I always wanted FIVE children, this would be our last baby.

This decision was made during the 14th week of my pregnancy.  One night I was back on the sofa, attempting to keep down some saltines and not look up at the TV (Did you ever notice when you’re not feeling well that EVERY single commercial is a close-up shot of a big, bloody steak from Ruby Tuesdays or gigantic platter of greasy nachos from Chili’s?). I took several deep breaths and buried my head in the cushions. I had no idea what our other two children, only two and four years old at the time, were doing upstairs. And, quite frankly, I didn’t care.

Until I heard a door slam. Knocking. And then a scream.

I ran up the stairs and found our four-year-old daughter looking into the keyhole of the bathroom door and frantically pulling on the doorknob. While they were playing, our two-year-old daughter ran into the bathroom, slammed the door and turned the lock. Because she was only two, she couldn’t comprehend that she needed to turn the lock the opposite direction to open the door. At the time, we lived in a house that was nearly 100 years old. All of the original details had been maintained over the years, including the locks which required skeleton keys. We did not have a set of those keys! Panicked, I started looking for anything I could find to try to open the lock.

Luckily, my husband had returned from work at just the right moment. After several failed attempts with other household items, including keys, screwdrivers and even a paperclip, we finally decided he should try to get in through the window. Unfortunately, the window, just like the door, was locked. The only way in was by breaking the glass. He took our extra-tall ladder, propped it up along the front of the house and climbed up to the second story window. I stayed inside the house on the other side of the locked door trying to distract and soothe our little girl with familiar songs and stories. I’ll never forget her screams when the window broke on the other side of the door – she started yelling for me and pulling, pounding and scratching at the door. Even though I knew she was safe, it was the most helpless feeling in the world. I felt so much guilt for leaving them alone. I kept calling her name so that she would stay close to my voice through the door…I was so worried that she would run over the shards of glass when she saw her dad. Thankfully, she stayed right next to the door. He crawled through the window, stepped over the glass, picked her up and unlocked the door.

At the same time, I looked down at my belly and thought, There is no way we are having five children – this baby will complete our family.

FullSizeRender (22)Seven months later, as we drove less than a mile home from the hospital, I sat next to my newborn baby safely belted into his car seat in the backseat of our minivan. This is the last time I will do this drive home from the hospital, I thought sadly. I looked out the window at the changing leaves, smelled the fall air and felt every single bump in the road. I then looked down at him, kissed his little forehead and took in his sweet new baby smell. I was grateful. Our last baby. I will never do this again. I savored the moment. I was both happy and sad.

 

FullSizeRender (21)This week I pulled the last car seat out of our minivan. Our third baby is now an almost 8-year-old child. He’s above average for height and weight and I probably could have removed the seat a while ago. I didn’t tell him that though. :o)

I smiled as I watched him sitting in the car…he looked so old to me. Our last baby. I will savor this moment too.

 

 

ps. After our third baby came home, our 2nd child continued to get into mischief even when I was doing a pretty good job of keeping a very close eye on her. When I asked her why she colored herself green, she answered, “I wanna look like Shrek.”

 


 

image

#223. Brian and I tipped a street musician and gave him two YAB “You Are Beautiful” stickers (one to keep, one to give away). : )

#222. Donated to Louisiana Floods/Red Cross efforts.

#221. Picked up garbage out in front of our favorite ice cream shop before it opened.

#220. Gave a donation to a teacher for her school supplies purchases.

#219. Left a small DQ gift card for the next customer.

#218. Gave a little extra tip at a restaurant.

#217. Paid a compliment to a stranger on her sundress (she was totally surprised and her face lit up).

#216. Made a promise to kids’ science teacher that I would purchase a dozen bottles of glue for him for the first day of school.

#215. Paid a compliment to a stranger.

#214. Gave cold water bottles to landscaping crew.

#213. Bought a bag from a friend’s online shop (kindness to self).

#212. Treated two friends to Bad Moms.

#211. Held door for a bunch of people leaving the movie theater.

#210. Started recruiting team Choosing Grace.

#209. Printed out and delivered important paperwork for neighbor.

#208. Made a donation to an important cause.

#207. Listened. While rushing to get a bunch of items checked off my to-do list, stopped to enjoy a nice conversation with one of the workers at Stop and Shop. He shared that he hasn’t had a vacation in years, he is estranged from some of his family members and he feels stuck in his job. After he finished, he said he knew I couldn’t do anything but he was thankful that I just listened.


*I’ve been learning a lot about the concept of savoring in my positive psychology coursework. It’s a really important component of well-being:

It involves an awareness of pleasure along with quite deliberate attempts to focus attention on the sensation at hand and delight in it. In a sense, savoring seeks to extract every nuance and association continued in the complexity of a pleasurable experience.” (Compton & Hoffman, 2013)

the unconventional mother

image
my mom on her 40th birthday

my mom.

she was not a conventional mother.

she was a…pack your own lunch, make your own bed, do your own laundry, figure out your own dinner, earn your own money to buy your own clothes, get your own band-aid, i’m on the phone and cannot help you with your homework…mother.

as a result, i learned how to forge her signature by the time a reading log was required in the 2nd grade, knew how to cook ramen noodles and mac n cheese for dinner when i was eight, always made my bed first thing in the morning and started a lucrative babysitting business by the time i was in 5th grade.

i resented her mothering style and have over-corrected with my own children.

i am a…

…give her one more extra kiss before she goes upstairs to bed mother,

…cuddle with her on the rocker that she outgrew many years ago mother,

…keep him on my lap so i can smell the top of his head a little longer mother,

…make breakfast, lunch, dinner and beds every day mother,

…wash and fold all of their laundry mother,

…help them or enlist the help of someone with their homework mother,

…mediate sibling squabbles mother,

…facilitate friend play time and activities mother.

and, despite my best, while flawed, mothering efforts, my own children will most likely resent me and think i am ruining them too.

for all the time i was putting down, dismissing and complaining about my mom’s mothering style, i should have been grateful that she helped me evolve into the resilient, strong and self-sufficient person i am today.

maybe being conventional is overrated. i never, ever doubted that she loved me. and, i miss her.

my mom did the best she could do.

i am too.


 

The Weekly RAK-Up

#125. Gave flowers to our neighbor and her caretaker for Mother’s Day.

#124. Let someone ahead of me in traffic.

#123. Donated a couple of gently used toys to Good Will.

#122. Assisted with a school project.

#121. Helped a girl who was left alone in movie theater (brother was working/taking tickets and babysitting at the same time).

#120. Sent a birthday card to a boy whose family requested them.

Happy Feet and the Weekly RAK-Up

Over the last several months, I started to notice that my feet resembled this…

rhino feet
Southern White Rhinoceros (google images)

I hadn’t had a pedicure or a manicure in over two years.

I also stopped practicing yoga around the same time.

I made appointments for and treated myself to all three of these things yesterday.

It’s weird, but there were these moments during the yoga, the pedicure and the manicure, that I had a big ole’ lump in my throat.

I couldn’t figure out why…and then I realized that I stopped doing some of these nice things for myself just around the same time my mom died.

Why? I have no idea.

While focusing on my drying nails contemplating that very thought, the door opened to the salon. I looked up to see a woman with a familiar-looking face. I knew I had seen her before, but I couldn’t place her.

Then it hit me.

On January 14th, my mom’s birthday, I went into that same nail salon and bought a gift card for one of their patrons as a random act of kindness. After “scoping out the joint” I pointed to a woman with blond curly hair who was sitting all by herself. I asked if the manager would give the card to her after I left the salon. The manager’s response, “Good choice. She is a nice, happy lady.”

It was that lady.

If I had left just two minutes before or looked down at my phone or skipped the manicure, which was my original plan, I would have missed her.

But, I didn’t miss her.

And, maybe this all sounds “out there” but I think there’s a reason our paths crossed again.

What’s the reason? I’m not sure, but I did learn something about this woman several weeks after my mom’s birthday. This “nice, happy lady” decided to do something kind for another person after she received the gift card. She left another gift card for someone else. The recipient of that gift card paid it forward as an auction item for an important cause, which she posted about on our NoochieRAKs page.

So, maybe the reason that she (unknowingly) crossed my path is to remind me of the ripple effect of kindness to others and ourselves.

And maybe that the big ole’ lump in my throat is what happiness feels like sometimes.❤️


weekly rak up

#119. Wrote TWNMLL: The World Needs More Love Letters (x3)

#118. Treated myself to yoga and mani/pedi (RAK of the Week).

#117. Gave a little extra tip at the nail salon.

#116. Complimented a stranger’s outfit in the parking lot. She was taken aback smiled and said “thank you, this old thing?”

eatin’, trippin’ and rak’n

IMG_4245
google images

 

I always thought the expression “eating your feelings” was a little silly.

That is, until my mom died.

Now I completely understand it.

Ever since June 16th, 2014, the day she died, I literally feel like I cannot stop eating at most meals. And by meals, I mean breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack. I’m not going to get into this too much, other than I know this is a process and I’m working through this and many other “issues”.

Anyhooooo, in an attempt to make healthier choices and lose (I’ll even take maintain at this point!) some of the weight I’ve gained while eating my feelings, I decided to run on the treadmill this morning in the workout room. And, to clarify, when I say “run”, I mean that I jog at a somewhat faster pace for several minutes and then walk for a few minutes and keep rotating walking and running (er, jogging) for an hour. I used to be able to run for the entire length of time, but along with my eating habits, my workout schedule has really been in a slump the last couple of years.

I’m always amazed by how many thoughts you can have when you’re just staring at a treadmill display or looking out the window at the lake. Today, my thoughts sounded like this:

I cannot believe it was exactly one year ago that we were saying goodbye to Mom’s house. I cannot believe that both Vanessa and Patrick were there, and now they’re gone. I cannot believe how many people we’ve lost this year…

All of these thoughts were running through my mind when I heard Vanessa’s voice say, “You know I love you, right?” followed by her hilarious, one-of-a-kind laugh. Of all the people we’ve recently lost, she is the one I “hear” most often. I haven’t exactly heard Patrick just yet…he’s been a quiet presence…more like a shadow. Right after that thought, the song “Just Breathe” came on, which I sent to my mother-in-law, Carolyn, when she was sick and, therefore, I think of her every time I hear it. Within the first few notes of the song, I imagined her saying, “Hey! What about me?!” followed by her laugh.

Girrrrrlllll, you are trippin’ was my next thought.

I wonder if I’m the only one whose “inner dialogue” (i.e., hearing voices, seeing shadows, etc.) sounds/feels like this…I sure hope not. If I am, then I’ll need to start working on this along with an ever-growing list of issues.

Anyway…back to the treadmill, I continued with my workout and random, not-so-interesting thoughts and was doing really well when I suddenly became overheated. And not just a bit overheated, but the I’m going to pass out or get sick right here kind of overheated. I paused the display, slowly stepped off the treadmill and went to turn on one of the fans that sits in front of the machines. It wasn’t working so I tried to reset it, unplug, plug it back in, etc., still no luck. I gave up and when I turned around an elderly lady had jumped on the treadmill.

“Oh, looks like you had a pretty good workout!” she said pointing at the numbers on the display.

“Uh…well, I, uh…yes, thank you…I did. Oops, just have to grab my keys.” I stammered, reaching over the treadmill display and into the cup holder for my keys.

I can’t really pinpoint what I was feeling, which is part of my problem, but sometimes this kindness project presents itself at just the right moments. :o)

IMG_4247
How I feel today – except substitute “JB’s pizza” for cake (google images) : )

 


 

image#99. Let someone else use the treadmill. (RAK of the Week)

#98. Complimented a stranger on his (awesome) cowboy hat.

#97. Cleaned off counter at rest stop.

#96. Donated gently used clothes to Good Will.

#95. Wrote an encouraging note to a friend.

#94. Donated dog treats to pet shelter.
#93. Re-shelved cleaning supplies sitting in middle of aisle.
#92. Paid a compliment to a stranger at Stop and Shop.

Treasured Trash and the Weekly RAK-Up

FullSizeRender (7)On Friday afternoon, I was lucky to have a little one-on-one time with our middle child, Kate. One-on-one time with any of our children doesn’t happen very often in our household, so we decided to take full advantage of our alone time together. Because it was unseasonably warm, we chose to spend most of the two hours outside. It’s amazing what a little fresh air, warm sunshine and hoops in the driveway can do for the spirit. After my arms felt like Jell-O from all those awesome hook shots (yea, right), I suggested that we take a break and walk down the road to the duck pond. I wanted to pick up a little trash as a “free” act of kindness for my #365ActsofKindness project. While Kate didn’t want to go initially, I convinced her with the stash of stale Goldfish crackers in the pantry, knowing that she couldn’t resist going as feeding the ducks is one of her favorite activities.

When we walked into the house to grab the Goldfish, our pup, Jane, was waiting at the door with her ears perked up as if she knew exactly where we were going. We couldn’t NOT bring her, although we both strongly considered that option. You see, while Jane’s a super-sweet dog, there is nothing sweet about walking her. She tugs on the leash so hard that you can feel your arm being pulled out of its socket and she goes completely berserk when she sees a squirrel, bird, jogger, or another dog. It’s just not necessarily the way we wanted to spend our special mother-daughter time together. Still, the pathetic look she gave us, complete with a single tear in her eye (okay, slight exaggeration), convinced us that we couldn’t leave without her. We put on her harness and set off for the duck pond. Our loveable Jane only attempted to bite the head off of one squirrel and one other dog. It was a successful walk in our book. :o)

We spent about a half an hour at the pond looking out at the water and feeding the ducks, geese and an occasional seagull. Kate would grab a handful of the tiny Goldfish crackers out of the bag, throw them up into the air and the seagulls would swoop down to try to grab the crackers before they landed in the water. Kate giggled and screamed as the seagulls got a little close for comfort or when she’d see a duck swimming over for the food. The sun was shining at just the right angle…not only did it warm our skin as we stood at the water’s edge, but it also made the surface of the water literally sparkle. I took a deep breath and smelled the warm, earthy soon-to-be spring air. It was the perfect moment. One thing that I love about the duck pond is that while it is beautiful and serene, there’s more depth to it than one would initially realize. If you focus your gaze a little further down the river beyond the tall grasses and gaggle of geese, there is the stark contrast to the quiet beauty where the traffic whizzes by on I95. It’s pretty cool because you get to feel the calm, peaceful feeling of nature, but you don’t feel isolated because you’re reminded of all the other people in the world – commuters, families, truckers – buzzing by at about sixty-five miles per hour on the highway. People. Noise. Reality. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I grew up in a big city, but I like it. For some reason it makes me feel less alone. I always end up imagining the people in the cars and trucks, I do the same thing with airplanes. I stare off and wonder…who’s driving, where they are going, what are they thinking…are they happy or sad?

“Okay…it’s empty!” Kate’s words brought me back from my thoughts as she shook the empty bag of Goldfish at all the wildlife creatures she had now attracted to her. It was time to go home. Just like most perfect moments, it went too quickly and had to come to an end. Our one-on-one time would soon become one-on-three time.

As we walked up to the road from the grassy area of the duck pond, I remembered that I wanted to pick up trash as my 72nd (72nd!) act of kindness. At the edge of the park, there was a gallon-sized Ziploc bag filled with garbage and an empty pack of Marlboros perched on top of it. It was like someone had pulled over, cleaned out the contents of their car, put it in the Ziploc baggie, sealed it, topped it off with the box of cigarettes that wouldn’t fit in the bag and intentionally left it all there. Once again, there was the stark contrast to the beauty of nature, only unlike the traffic whizzing by, the trash that was purposefully left behind really annoyed me. I almost went ahead and picked up the Ziploc bag, but then thought of all the dogs that walk by and what dogs do to mark their territory, and I thought, I might be kind, but even “kind” has its limits. I decided to leave it there. About a foot away from the bag, was a half empty (or was it half full?) Dunkin Donuts plastic cup on the side of the road. I rationalized to myself and Kate that this would work as my “trash”, so I picked it up and carefully held it in between my index finger and thumb. Along the way home, Kate laughed and said, “Oh, that looks so refreshing, Mom, how does it taste?” I pretended to sip it and answered, “It tastes so good, wanna sip?” The moment made even more hilarious when the dirt crusted along the side of the cup moved and we thought there was a bug crawling on it. We were laughing so hard by the time we got home it almost seemed a shame to throw it away…almost.

But, even during that silly moment, I didn’t feel great about leaving all the other trash behind or the lesson I was modeling for my daughter who is a careful, quiet observer. By only picking up the one piece of trash and claiming that I did my act of kindness for the day, I felt like a complete fake. It also made me feel like I was just going through the motions to check something off a list instead of really being mindful of my acts of kindness. The thought of the garbage and my complacency nagged at me the rest of the night.

So, early the next morning, I decided to walk back to the duck pond. This time, instead of stale Goldfish, I grabbed a tall white kitchen garbage bag and my helper-pup, Jane. On my way out, I invited Kate to join us, but she responded that she was really comfy in her bed with her iPad. When I explained to her why I was going back, my old-soul daughter listened, smiled knowingly and went back to playing her game.

When Jane and I arrived at the duck pond, I was sorta surprised, but pleased to see that the Ziploc bag, complete with cigarette box on top of it, was still sitting along the road. I picked it up along with several beer cans scattered around, although I actually didn’t mind that part because it felt like payback for the days long, long ago when my friends and I would drink at the beach or the park and then toss our empties everywhere except the garbage cans. I also picked up other garbage, including filthy Styrofoam containers, broken glass, a crushed diet coke can, old paper and tissue, and I had to carefully step over and through some sticker bushes to get a couple Whole Foods deli containers with old fruit and salads. It was completely disgusting and I had a scratch or two on my legs, but it definitely felt better than just picking up the one Dunkin Donuts cup.

IMG_3962

After I was finished collecting the trash, I walked back home with our helpful pup, Jane. She didn’t even pull on her leash that hard. I was amazed that we filled half the garbage bag with trash that was carelessly cast away by others. The duck pond was cleaner and so was my conscience. What’s that saying about trash, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”? I guess this sorta applies here. While it wasn’t my favorite way to spend a Saturday morning, it wasn’t all bad either. There have been days when I loathe this project sitting over my head, but mostly I am grateful. Very grateful. I hope Kate (and Emma and Brian) notice my gratitude too.

 


 

IMG_3429

#74. Left some scratch off lotto tickets on a couple of cars’ windshields in the parking lot at Goodwill.

#73. Picked up the trash at the duck pond: A Redux. (RAK of the Week)

#72. Picked up trash at the duck pond: the lite version.

#71. Gave Emma Starbucks gift cards to give to others on her birthday. She successfully hid two gift cards in random lockers AND in her dad’s “beauty product” drawer. :o)

#70. Wrote letters to adolescent residents in a mental health facility as suggested by the Random Act of Kindness Organization (RAKtivist)*.

#69. Gave an extra tip to a car wash attendant.

#68. Let someone pull ahead of me in traffic.

*Note about Cards to Inspire: http://cardstoinspire.tumblr.com/post/139438764164/cards-to-inspire-card-drive  Cards To Inspire is doing a card drive for encouraging cards for adolescents who are residents in mental health treatment facilities. The cards will be presented to the adolescents in May in honor of May being mental health month. You’re welcome to contribute!

A big “thank you” to my friend, Colleen King, for the clean-up at the duck pond suggestion. I never realized how much trash accumulates at one of our favorite spots. Do you have any other “free” acts of kindness that you like to do? If so, I’d love to hear all ideas! Thank you!  

kept my word and the weekly rak-up

FullSizeRender (5)

As my mom would say, “Do you have time for one quick little story?” Two hours later, you were still listening, and there was usually a point or some connection (at the very end). And so it continues… :o)

Acts of Kindness #62. Kept my word.

A little over a year ago, I unexpectedly found myself getting my mom’s house ready to put on the market. After living there for 43 years, our family had accumulated so much stuff that it took several months to get it all cleared out. When I was finally making progress with getting furniture, antiques, clothing, knickknacks, books, old report cards, letters, art projects, yearbooks…her life, our life, out of the house, I started to bring in new stuff. I’m sure people thought I was crazy, but there was a method to the madness. I knew that the new pieces would make the rooms look bigger and more updated, which would be more appealing to the buyers (I’ll admit I’ve watched my fair share of home shows on HGTV). In addition, the new furniture was lighter and brighter, which, in turn, made the house look lighter and brighter after being so dark and heavy for so long. For me, it felt like it was time to make things right again in the house that had provided so much more than shelter for all those years.

One night while getting the kids ready for bed, I decided that I needed a full or double size bed for the large front bedroom. For the longest time, my mom only kept one twin size bed in that room. If you were a couple or a mother with small children, you either uncomfortably shared the bed or camped out on the floor with decade-old dog hair and terrifyingly huge dust bunnies surrounding you. The options were limited and I absolutely loathed staying there. So, in the middle of cleaning and clearing out, I decided I would spend $150 for a mattress in an effort to “stage” the room, but also because I wanted a place for people to sleep when we were there. I figured I would spend more money staying in a hotel or on therapy, so I said, “What the hell!” and went for it.

The next morning, I called “Sleepy’s”, a mattress place just a few blocks away from my mom’s house. The salesperson took his time going over all the options, including mattress styles, sizes, and prices. “It just so happens,” he explained, “that I have one mattress in stock, which fits your needs and it’s on sale.” I told him I would be there around 5:00-5:30pm that same day.

The kids and I went about our day as planned, except that we cut our visit with friends short because I told them I had to be somewhere around 5:00pm. As we were driving to the store, I could see dark clouds rolling in and knew we needed to get this mattress purchased and loaded up as soon as possible. I quickly pulled into the parking spot and walked in with all three (tired) kids in tow.

The store was completely empty and the salesman came right up to us, greeted me with a smile and said, “How can I help you?”. I mentioned that I had called earlier about the full-size mattress on sale. His face dropped and he said, “I’m sorry, I sold it this afternoon.” He apologized over and over again saying, “I get calls from people all day long saying that they’ll come in and they never show up. I cannot believe you actually came in to buy it. I’m so very sorry.”

Before John died and my perspective on life changed forever, I would have felt a little irritated or annoyed with the situation…but now I cannot help but look at the world through my “suffering” lens. All I kept thinking was – this happens to him all the time? People call him up, he takes his time explaining the various mattress styles and prices and then people don’t even show up? This was a man who took pride in his work and he was polite and helpful…  It makes me a little sad even now when I think of how quickly people dismissed him and the help he was offering them.

While the kids were testing out the “unlimited” positions on the various Tempur-Pedic mattresses, the salesman made arrangements with another store that was less than a mile away. We drove to the other store, picked up the mattress and loaded it up on top of the mini-van. The clouds were quickly moving in and it just started to drizzle as we sat at the last stop light just before my mom’s house. Somehow I made it to the carport and singlehandedly brought both the mattress and box spring into the house and upstairs to the bedroom before the torrential downpour. I made up the bed with the new sheets and comforter I had rationalized purchasing earlier in the day and our eldest daughter slept peacefully in the soft, comfortable bed with fresh sheets that night. Every time I walked up the stairs or passed by the room over the next several months, I smiled because that bed just seemed to complete the house. Day by day, the house was getting ready and I was slowly getting ready to let it go.

Fast-forward to last week…I called a car dealership to see if I could come in to look at an SUV. The salesperson, Mark, was helpful over the phone, asking about whether I wanted to lease or finance, did I have a trade-in?, etc. When we walked into the showroom Saturday morning to look at the car, Mark seemed a little surprised at first that we were there.

Of course, I immediately thought of the mattress salesperson and the importance of keeping my word.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t feasible for us to buy the car at this point, but we will most likely go back to him at a later date (and refer others to him as well)  because he was knowledgeable, honest and upfront with us. Mark, an older gentlemen with salt and pepper hair, glasses and a blue windbreaker, reminded me of someone. He was kind, had the most calm disposition and was patient with our kids. While he told us about the safety features, he also talked about his own three grown children all of whom he was very proud. He wasn’t trying to make the hard sell – he was more focused on building relationships. When we went back into the showroom to discuss numbers, he left the desk for a moment and I realized who he reminded me of…I turned to my husband and said, “He reminds of John.” Dave immediately agreed and we were both feeling a little melancholy after we left showroom.

In our daily lives, we are completing acts of kindness without realizing it all the time. This project continues to remind me of the importance of being kind to others. It helps me remain mindful that every life matters.

Regardless of how insignificant the promise, it’s important that I keep my word.

IMG_3429

#67. Wrote more letters for TWNMLL: http://www.moreloveletters.com/

#66. Held the door open for a woman (who then held the next door for me and my children :o) )

#65. Cashed in a couple birthday scratch-off tickets and gave one to the lady behind the counter.

#64. Let a man go ahead of me at the deli counter.

#63. Picked up trash in a store parking lot.

#62. Kept my word. (RAK of the Week)

#61. Held the door for a group of people going into a store

And speaking of keeping my word, a few months ago, one of my friends, Kim, sent me a link for “Because I Said I Would” an incredible social movement dedicated to keeping our commitments. Here’s the description from their website: We make and keep promises to end suffering, establish peace and build happiness. Our mission is to strengthen humanity’s will. We created the promise card to help hold people accountable to their commitments. Make and keep a promise to improve yourself, your family or your community. If you need a promise card to make the commitment real, we will send you one. The world needs you. For more information: http://becauseisaidiwould.com/