Monday, August 10, 2009

Lessons to learn

Have you ever had the opportunity to be kind to someone and maybe you took the opportunity or maybe you didn't--then later--sometimes not much later something terrible happens to that person and you wonder whether or not you took all the opportunity available to be kind when you could.

Many years ago, one of my children went on a scout campout--the first one the troop had gone on--a few of the parents went but the scouts paired up and slept in tents away from their parents. My child came home on Sunday afternoon disgusted with his tent mate because he had left their tent during the night and gone to sleep with his mother. As we sat on the kitchen floor amidst all of his campfire scented camping gear and talked about it, I pointed out that perhaps it was the first night away from home and nighttime wood sounds could be scary. My child was having none of that, though. He was sure that he would probably be looking for another friend the next day at school.

The next day after school, he came in, dropped his backpack and sat again on the floor, his back against the cupboards and cried and cried and cried. When he could finally talk, he told me that the tentmate friend had left school early and after he left the teacher talked to all of the children in the class and told them that the little boy's father had been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer the Friday before. He had only a few months to live. Of course, that was why the little boy had gone to sleep in the tent with his mother. What sad news to get at 9 years old on your first cub scout camping trip.

Over the next few months, my son was a good friend. I was proud of him for being the friend that the little boy needed but I think he has always remembered his mistaken impression from the camping trip and I think that mistake has been one of the things that has made him the fine man that he is. A good lesson to learn--and how sad to have to learn it.

A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to be kind to a lady. I think that I was but I don't think that I was as patient and kind and good as I wish that I had been. I had a terrible toothache and a dentist appointment scheduled for later and probably rushed our time together. Today, her life has changed forever--splashed across the pages of the paper--nothing that anyone could have expected or anticipated and if I get another chance to be kind to her I will be patient and kind and good but how I desperately wish that I had maximized the last opportunity before her world fell apart.


KGMom said...

Oh Beth-- I know just what you mean. Years ago, I neglected to write to an aunt (with whom I had lived for 5 years) after she had been diagnosed with cancer. Then she died--and I was full of remorse.
So, now, my mantra--to the extent possible, live life with NO regrets. It is very hard to do. But the trying makes me mindful.

Jayne said...

A good lesson for us all Beth. We never know just how much a kind word or gesture can affect someone else.