A Smile, A Hug, A Moment
“I will never forget the way she made me feel whenever we were together.”
“Her smile lit up the room and she seemed to be a truly joyful person.”
“She always told me to look at life honestly and to work hard, and you knew where she stood on things that mattered.”
Twice recently I have had the honor of attending the funeral services of people whom I had never met. One was the daughter of my Mom’s friend, and one was the mother of our dear friend. I left both services feeling as if I knew each lady, even though we never got to know each other this side of heaven. And I couldn’t help but notice that there was a common thread in both of their lives – they each took the time to make other people feel special.
Both ladies had impressive pedigrees as far as their careers went; one was a physical therapist and one had an important government job. One lady was incredibly careful about what she ate – to the point of growing her own organic food. There was a great cook, a dapper dresser, and a world traveler. But each of these qualities was casually mentioned in passing or observed in a photograph. When family and friends stood to give eulogies about these beloved women, the one thing that was emphasized over and over again was their ability to make the world a better place through their smiles, words of encouragement and desire to help others. Those were the things that had the greatest impact on their loved ones.
Each of these funerals gave me pause for reflection. I quickly realized that acts of kindness, however simple, can have lasting effects on those around us. Just last week, my son was sharing with me about the receptionist in his apartment building. Little things that she does each day have had a positive impact on him and his wife. She gathers up their mail and hands it to them with a word of encouragement. She reminds them often how they are “very special young people who are going to make a huge difference in the world.” And she smiles and offers them a ray of sunshine on an otherwise dreary day.
Last Friday was her last day at work, as her company was moving on to other properties. As my son and his wife went to take her a good-bye gift, they were stunned to see the long line of people at the front desk who were doing the same thing. They were lining up to wish her well and take selfies with her. They were stopping to thank her for making them feel special. All of this…..and she had only worked there for six months. Six months was all it took to make a positive impact on a building full of people who needed to feel loved.
And just two days ago, I was once again reminded of the difference that even an afternoon can make in someone’s life. My precious 39 year old niece began the next chapter of her life in a nursing home facility. Multiple sclerosis has twisted its way through life for twenty years now, and it has gotten to the point where she needs skilled care around the clock. On Saturday, three of her high school buddies drove two hours to brighten up her day. They brought a sunshine basket, took her out for a makeover, and most importantly reminded her that she is being remembered and is loved. Talk about a much needed breath of encouragement!
It really doesn’t take an incredible amount of effort on our part to impact our world, one small word or gesture at a time. Maya Angelou said it best; “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” During this time when our country seems to be divided and eerily antagonistic, perhaps we can take a moment to make a positive impact. An intentional kind word. An encouraging card. A smile. A hug. A moment.