Kindness and Bold Living

Auntie Arlene with Grandson Casey in 86'

Yesterday, September 5, 2010 and the day prior, I stood beside the bed of my Auntie Arlene. My father’s sister, now nearly 82-years-old, has been one of the strongest and boldest individuals I have ever known. As a college school nurse, she would share her excitement for achieving goals with students and tell them they would indeed become something if they stuck to hard work and found within themselves a glimmer of self respect. They listened and several times returned for confidence building sessions with the spy grandmother of 7.

Following the death of my father when I was 10-years-old, she was there for my family. While her heart broke at the loss of her little brother (10 years younger than she), she stood strong and took us into her house until we were ready to re-visit our real lives…which all of the sudden didn’t include my father. And in his place, she’d come watch me play baseball…hoot and holler my team to victory.

Auntie Arlene is now feeble and frail. The truth is that I have a hard time accepting she may not be long for this world. For the past two days, I spent time with her. Stroking her gray hair, rubbing her shoulders, singing songs and crying a bit with her. Over and over again, she shared  her love for me and that I must never forget. And then sometimes, she’d fade off into a place I wasn’t to be a part of — some place that I fear — a place that she both welcomes and fears. She spoke about her father and how he’s there, about her brothers who are there…I just listened to her talk of this place. Is it heaven? Is there a heaven? Is there another dimension that she has been given some sort of access to?

Today, I am back to making a living — to trying to “keep my eye on the ball” and I find it a challenge. For when faced with the loss of someone you adore…things just don’t quite stack up as you once thought they should. I’m reminded of the soul, the journey of life — and no matter how hard I work or how bold I attempt to be…I will one day find my candle about to burn out…and people wishing me well on a journey that they can’t be a part of.

And right now, all I am left with is a desire to be kind — to be kind to those I love — to be kind to myself — to be kind to this thing called life. Being kind to life means that I don’t take one second for granted…that I let go of past pains, of irritations, of fear of failure, of fear of success, of fear of loss, off fear of gaining — kindness comes in many shapes and forms —  kindness to body, kindness to spirit, kindness to fate, kindness to beings, kindness to aspirations, kindness to limitations.

I came across a poem yesterday that struck me to the core. It speaks to my soul because there are times that I just feel that I’ve lost so much…and I know that I will lose more…and yet with loss of all types…there comes bittersweet gifts such as realizing that kindness is one of they major keys to boldness…

Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

-Post by Jennifer Engevik of Project BE Bold

Make it a Bold Day!!!

One Comment

  1. Oh Jennifer this is so beautiful. So sweet. So ‘kind’ of you to remember my sweet but bold Mom. She had the perfect combination of Kindness and boldness…characteristics needed to be a Mom or an Aunt or a Mentor. Thank you for sharing.
    Xoxoxo
    K

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