Tuesday, September 30, 2014

An act of KINDNESS

No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves. ~ Amelia Earhart

I honestly don't know how to start this post. I feel like I should do it the right way to convey the message that I want to share. Kindness comes in all form may it be saying kind words, doing kind things for other people, being kind to animals and even to our nature. Doing an act of kindness does not depend on how big or small you've done. You may not realize it but by giving your smile to everyone its a simple act of kindness, saying thoughtful words to others or just being a friend to someone is an act of kindness. 

Now lemme share my story (it may not be the greatest story to tell but still I want to share it). 
Its my own personal experience and realizations. I kept it to myself because I felt like people around me would not be really interested hearing it and I don't want to appear like bragging about it. My family knew what I did but they don't know the whole story. I think its about time to share it and somehow make a difference through it.  Its about those people you see or even passed by on the streets.

In the past I would gladly give my coins to any one panhandling on the streets, its just the way it is for me. But there are times I'm too lazy to check for any coins in my purse that if I feel bad just passing through them.

Then one day my perspective towards the situation changed. I cannot really remember when it started but I felt like I have to do something more for these people. I heard a lot of arguments about giving money to them. People would say that these people might asking money to support their vices and true to it! sometimes,I see some of them puffing a cigarette and who knows what else. On the other hand people would say its better to give them bread or food than money, at least you'll know they will have something to eat.

One day me and my cousin was waiting for a ride home near a bakeshop when I noticed this man sitting on the floor I cant remember well if he is asking for alms or not, but by looking at the man I somehow felt that I need to do something. Then we decided to buy a bread for him, as far as I can remember it was my cousin who handed out the bread because I'm too embarrassed to approach him. I don't know how to exactly describe the man's reaction, it was a mixture of wonderment and disbelief I guess, but after that, I saw one of the most warm and genuine smile in my life and in that moment I truly felt real joy.That event made an impact to me that I can still remember it to this very day and it became my encouragement to do more good every chance I get.

Sometimes if I see an old person selling something I buy whatever they are selling may it be of used or not. There are times when I'm riding through a public transportation and some passengers have a big amount of money for the fare and the driver doesn't  have a change for it, I pay for them. (it happens a lot and it happened to me too, thanks to that kind lady). There was this event when these kids were trying to have a free ride home but the driver of the cab (not a taxi cab) that I'm in was unwilling to let them ride since they look untidy. I suddenly said I'll pay for them which I got an unenthusiastic look from the man, but he let them ride the cab. I talked to the kids about stuff  and uttered their thanks.

 Every time I go to the malls and see old people outside holding out one's hand, I go inside the mall and buy food for them that's the least I could do. It became part of my routine every time I go out. Well there are times I ran out of money so I can't give to them. But every payday I make sure to check on them and bring food. There are times that I feel uncomfortable because people are staring at me. 

One old woman caught my attention, maybe because she reminds me of Granny (my grandmother who passed away) among all of them she's the oldest I've seen. I started caring for her I checked out on her from time to time. There are days that she's not on her usual spot, until one day she stopped coming to that place. I was worried for her, whenever I go to different places in the city I always checked the area and see if she's there like the parks, churches and markets but no luck for me. With a heavy heart I moved on but still hoping to see her. 

After a couple of months while I was on my way home I spotted her sitting in a walking pavement, its in the intersection and in front of a famous fast food chain. My heart lit up the moment I saw her but as I was travelling home I felt sad, why? because I didn't do anything and it's late! I go home 11:30 pm every day, why does she have to stay outside so late. She should go home and rest. I feel sorry for her and for my self (because I can't do anything for her). Since that night every time I go home I would always checked her spot. Feeling down that I can't do anything I just passed by and pray that she will be okay. She was sharing the spot with another old woman but not as old as she, people are just passing through them I saw some are giving them money and one time I saw a crew from the fast food chain gave them food. There was this time when it was drizzling and she still sits there.The location is mobbed because there are bars, restaurants, mall and its on the main road. 

On the night of March 02 2012 the crowd is more packed since its Friday, its party time for people of all ages. My ride home slowed down to pick up passengers near the location where the old woman is sitting. I was battling if  I go down and check out on her or just go straight home. Just like in the movies the very last moment was suddenly slowing down when I decided to jump out and pay my fare. As I was walking towards her I gathered all my courage and said to myself that there is no backing down now. I said "hello" to her and she smiled at me then I sat down beside her. The first minutes was very awkward and uncomfortable for me I was just sitting with her and people are staring down at us, I saw food from the fast food chain both for the two women. I asked her if she has eaten her dinner which she replied "yes". I started talking to her, I asked her name she said its "Marcela" from then on I called her "Lola Marcela" (Grandma Marcela). She talked a lot! she told me about her family, some of her children are dead but her youngest daughter is still with her, how her daughter is so dependent on her, she has grandchildren. She told me that she is still the one providing for her family, her daughter's husband is blind and her daughter is not doing anything to provide for the family. I told her that she's too old and its not safe for her, she should be resting at home at not sitting outside the streets and asking for alms, she answered me if she will not do it her grandchildren will starve. As I was listening to her I felt a pang of sadness how can they let this old woman roam around the street. She said a lot of people showed sympathy for her so they gave her money. There's a good Samaritan who gave her an ointment since her knees and joints are in pain. I asked her how much does she get from panhandling I was surprised that she can collect a big amount of money. (It reminds me when Sherlock Holmes disguised as a beggar and asked alms on the streets just to solve his case. He said then that there is big money in panhandling.)  I joked at her that I might just resigned and just ask for alms then.

She told me about her younger days (which reminds me of Granny because she also loved to talk about her younger days). She also told me that she got attacked by some boys and took her money. I told her that she should be careful and keep her money safely. We talked about  stuff she even asked me if I already had dinner and offered me her food which I politely refuse since I'm still full. She also asked me if I'm a student, I said "no, I worked in a small company".

She then told me that once there was a group of people who took her to a nice place, they cleaned her up, provided her food and a nice bed. She said the place are full of old people like her (I assume the place if a home for the aged). I asked her why she left, she left because she misses her grandchildren and she's worried about her family. She even said, if other mothers can abandon their children, she cant. Its amazing how deeply she loves her family but it made me doleful that the very same family she loves seems to be the one abandoning her. We talked for a while when the rain started dropping I helped her out and the other Lola to find a shelter. I was surprised when one man helped us out. We went under the flyover and settled them there. I bid my goodbye to them since its getting late and I need to go home. The two women uttered their thanks and reminded me to be careful going home Lola Marcela even handed out a bill to pay for my fare which I refused and I said "Its okay Lola I have money" (that gesture really touched my heart). I walked away and was waiting for a ride when this man approached me and told me that what I did was brave and inspiring. "Not all people can do what you just did, you sat down and talked with them". I just said thanks to him I don't know how to take the compliment. Ahmmm I was a bit indifferent with the man because he was a stranger and I'm not really that friendly.  So I didn't know how to react with the whole situation. I know he wanted to talked to me more but I called out a taxi and went home.

While on my way home everything punch in to me. I realized what I did and I said to my self "Wow you did it!" It felt really good inside. I'm glad that God guided me and gave me that chance. I was also inspired with the man's words. For the first time in my life I knew I did something right. 

Following that event I visited Lola Marcela every chance I get or if I'm not really tired. After work I would go to a convenience store and bought some water and food and an ointment for Lola and the other Lola, then I would walked to their location since its not really that far from my office. I felt more comfortable the second time and on the third time its like the most natural thing in the world. People still throw glances at me but I didn't mind them. We talked and talked sometimes she told me stories over and over again but I don't mind I still listen and respond to her (Granny used to tell me stories over and over again). Sometimes if her legs and knees are in pain I would massage it for her. I also talked to the other Lola but she doesn't talked much, so I just let her be. Sometimes I buy food for them from the other famous fast food chain. There was a moment when the weather is a bit cool and she doesn't have anything to protect her from cold I gave her my shawl. One day I asked her where she stays in the city she said that she had a place to sleep. I know the place its far and she told me that she just walk to get there. But I think she mentioned that sometimes taxis or other public transportation are giving her a ride. Every time I visit her she never fail to asked me if I've eaten my dinner already. She would looked at me and smile then would asked me why I talked and sat down with them, she also said other people don't even like to be near them since they are dirty. I said I don't mind and besides I'm enjoying her company. (I know I can't help them big time so in my own way by talking and listening, just being with them and understanding them I know I'm helping enough).

There were times that Lola Marcela and the other Lola didn't showed up in the place and if I bought something for them I gave it to the street children. Then there was this time when I passed by and saw Lola Marcela back to the spot and to my surprise there was a man sitting and talking to her. I was so happy maybe just maybe that person was inspired by me. Days passed for the second time I saw another man talking to her (till now I'm still wondering if its the same man). Sometimes people just need a little push to do things or maybe a little inspiration. 

At times I see her in the middle of the day walking I would get off the cab and talk to her just to check how she's doing. One time I saw her near my office so I bought her food from the convenience store. Every time she smiled at me it always give me happiness. Even when she's old and were not seeing each other often she still remembers me.

There came a time when I'm not seeing more of her until long months had passed and no sign of her. From time to time I would think of her and pray for her.

On a rainy night of January 19 2013 I saw Lola Marcela again under the same flyover I placed her on our first meeting but she was under the stairs that its not easy to spot her. God really guided me that night. I can't remember well why I was there but I know I'm going home that moment but its hard to take a cab since its raining. Then I walked towards the flyover so that I'll be on the first line for the cab I was a bit tired of waiting and can't wait to go home. I just stood there for a couple of minutes then when I looked under the stairs my heart leap! Lola Marcela is sitting there. I ran towards her, took her hands and hold it. I missed her and worried about her. Its raining hard and its cold but she doesn't have anything to protect her. I asked her how she'd been. She talked about stuff. I just stayed there with her. She asked the same questions every time I see her. If I eat already, what's my work, where's my office, etc.
I remember combing her hair since she has a pink comb. I remember she touched my face and told me something (can't really remember what she said). I remember her smile. I remember she told me I should go home since its raining I might catch a cold. I remember she showed me a senior citizen card with her personal information. So I thought someone is looking out for her.
When I decided to go home I was reluctant to leave her there. Again she offered me money for the fare which I refused. Then she offered me her pink comb, she really insisted on it so I took it.
Before I got up I took a picture of her since I have my camera with me that time. Strange emotion enveloped me. Little did I know that would be our last time together. 

Months passed, I got busy for my departure to work overseas. I still think of her and I was really hoping to see her before I go but it didn't happen. I had her combed with me until recently, I found out I lost it I can't find it among my things :(
Up to this very day I still think about her and still worried how she's doing. I can only pray for her now that we are miles apart. I'm hoping for the best for Lola Marcela. If given a chance I would love to see her again.

And there goes my story. I have regrets, actually, I could have done something more for her. Many times I think of bringing her home with me.But I'm afraid of responsibility I feel like if I will push for it, it would be hard work. So I helped her the way I can. I might be a childish, immature person for some but this experience helped me to learn and grow as a person.

A simple act of kindness is contagious it inspire you to do more good and it inspire other people to do the same.

I'm not sure what will be your reaction to this, some might not read it or bother to check 
on it but I'm hoping that somehow it can light a fire in your heart. 
And it can inspire you to spread kindness in this world.