June 20th, 2024

Kindness is all around us

By Lethbridge Herald on May 17, 2024.

Al Beeber – managing editor

To start with, I want to say a special thanks to the anonymous reader who dropped off a gift at the office last Friday for my birthday. The reader told Nikki at the front counter she’s a fond reader of my columns and I gather she felt shy about being acknowledged.

Well, I’m so sorry I didn’t get to meet you. So often as Nikki and I discussed, I’m dealing with angry or unhappy people  and I truly wished I could have met a kind and gracious one.

Thank you so very much for that kindness. And to Mary Nowik for the birthday card and the kind words about the Herald under my direction from a person at her church. That gave me a much-needed boost in confidence this week 

And that I guess is a good seque into this week’s column which is about kindness.

If you’ve heard stories from your grandparents or other elderly people, or watched Hollywood movies from the 1940s and even ‘50s, you’re well aware of how much kindness used to be shown to each other. Some of us actually remember it.

Holding doors open for other people, letting those with only a couple of items in hand take your spot at a store cashier, giving up a seat on a bus or taking a different table in a restaurant so a bigger group could sit together were common.

But kindness isn’t part of history. It’s still shown every day in some of the most innocuous ways, like the stranger who rang the doorbell during a rainstorm to tell us about a dog sitting on the front step. That dog was Ben who somehow got out the back gate unbeknown to anyone.

Kindness is the person who climbs onto a neighbour’s roof to help with a leak or who assists with some complicated repair that a person can’t figure out.

It’s simply saying hello when passing by someone on the street.

I also experienced kindness last week from my optometrist, Dr. Len Ferguson, and his staff. I’ve long endured what are known as ’floaters,’ collagen fibres in the vitreous within our eyes that dart across our vision. They’re annoying beyond words and mine seem to have been worsening.

And that happens with aging because the vitreous, according to the Mayo Clinic website “liquifies and contracts. When this happens, microscopic collagen fibres in the vitreous tend to clump together. These scattered pieces cast tiny shadows onto your retina.”

As I write this, they’re crossing my vision in both eyes and are driving me bonkers. The more I focus on them the more obvious they are.

And last week, after reading that high blood pressure – which I didn’t realize I suffered from when I last visited my cataract surgeon Dr. Kwan – can increase them, I called Dr. Ferguson for an appointment.

And after various eye tests, he assured me I have nothing to worry about. The blood pressure wasn’t causing problems with my eyes and the floaters aren’t doing any harm.

It was a relief to hear – again – but that doesn’t change how insufferable these things can be. Finally after decades, I’ve got near perfect vision thanks to the cataract surgery but age has caught up and I’m dealing with more of these annoyances which I first noticed back in high school. Never to this degree, however.

Dr. Ferguson’s reassurances about my eye health last week was much-needed, another act of kindness which I truly appreciated.

I know I’m not alone in my frustrations with these things which seem to be always within sight and which seem to worsen with eye strain.

I know I’m not alone – I’ve recently opened up about these with others who also have them and like me, they’re reluctant to talk about something that may seem petty. 

But when you deal with them every day, it can be like an itch that won’t go away. You become fixated on the problem, almost obsessed with it, and the more you try to ignore it, the worse that problem seems to get.

But thanks to my optometrist, I do feel a bit more at peace about it.

But kindness isn’t shown to us just by people we know. We show it to strangers every day as well. We’ve seen that recently in the Roasts and Toasts section where people with vehicle problems have been assisted by someone who cared enough to make sure a fellow human being could get home safely or back on the road. 

And how often have we seen at city parks lost keys or gloves and toques put on top of doggie bag boxes or somewhere else that’s visible so their owners can retrieve them?

Kindness is picking up litter in parks and along boulevards, buying someone’s coffee in the drive-through at Tim Hortons, volunteering to help an organization just because it’s something positive to do –  like assisting at the soup kitchen or with a charity for example.

It’s pointing out to someone they dropped change or bills on the ground or that their gas cap lid is open or a tire is going flat.

It’s letting someone else take the last item of its kind on a store shelf or clothes rack even though we need it, as well. 

Kindness is everywhere around us but it seems like sometimes we’ve either forgotten that or are too consumed with everything negative in the world to see it.

But it still exists and as long as humans care about each other, it always will. 

Lethbridge residents show kindness on a daily basis in so many different ways. Lethbridge gets a bad rap by some and unfortunately the negatives tend to overshadow the positives. And they always will if we keep focusing on the negatives and rubbing them in everyone’s noses every day.

But this city – which is a community filled with generosity, compassion and consideration – has many positives, kindness being among its attributes that make it a good place to call home. 

And we owe it to each other as well as ourselves to keep showing that kindness.

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