Friday, December 29, 2006

Kindness Goes a Long Way(Guest post by Barb)

He sat with me in silence. It was one of the acts of kindness that I recall with fondness to this day. I have had a few occassions through the years when I can be rather hyper. This was one such time. A group of Young Single Adults were talking about a trip they were planning to Utah. I do not know if I had thought about it before, but I know in that moment I felt like I really needed to go to Utah to visit some old companions. They said there was not room. I think I added something about riding in the trunk or on top of the car. I didn't think that seemed entirely far-fetched in my state of mind. It really was unrealistic for me to even think of such a thing. Going places was very hard for me by that point and I scarcely went to Church due to my condition. I did go to Young Single Adults and School, and Work(unless this was between jobs), and Institute. But it was hard as I have problems everywhere I go. I may have broken myself of the habit of asking people if something was safe that was racing through my mind at this time having asked one too many people who made me feel like I was a pain in my asking. Eventually, I would just stop going and that is probably for the best. Avoidance of going places is still a strategy that serves me well today in surviving.

Then I told the small group that it was okay that I understood that they were not my friends. I didn't mean anything buy it. I don't remember if they usually hung out together or such, but I was thinking that they must as they arranged to go to Utah together.I think the one man and the woman in turn said they were my friends. I kind of knew the one and was fairly good friends with his brother. I think I replied I did not know him and think I made some comment of like nature to the woman who I don't think I knew. She seemed nice. That young men said that I had an attitude. I promptly agreed in the moment with a complete lack of attitude in my acceptance of his pronouncment.

The other young man said he was my friend.(This is the one who would stay). He was in my ward and I do recall inviting him to an activity shortly after he came home from his mission. I think he really thanked me for letting me know. We would see each other at Church or Institute and he was always friendly. But we were by no means close.

I'm not sure exactly the order of events or all that was said. I do recall telling him that he was just nice to me because I was not active in Church. From what I had gleaned, he had been a very hard working missionary. I think he was serving in some capacity as a Stake or Ward Missionary during that time frame. I sensed a little astonishement at my accusation in his voice when he asked if I thought he could be nice to me for so long for that reason. I am not sure exactly when the others left and it was just the two of us.

At one point, I had a very forlorn feeling come over me. It was then that he sat with me in silence. Time seemed suspended. Then, I dismissed him saying something about how I didn't need him. He must have left shortly after that point. I must have been carrying on to the point that those in the next room heard me as I think somebody repeated something I said. Of course, that is embarassing to know that my display was more public than was supposed by me.

I called the young man later to apologize and let him know that I did not mean anything by it. I said that it was more about the definition of friends versus acquintance.

"My friend" would fall from his lips often when I would see him in the future. I don't think he used that term of endearment before that time. He paid for me to go to a movie once after Institute Graduation. I think that was after the incident.

A couple times he would ask me questions that were a little personal and say that is what friends do is ask questions. I think one of the questions was whether I was afraid to die.

When I was trying to move out of an abusive situation, he gave me a ride to an elderly ladies home that I had heard about through the school list of those who take in borders. I had never talked to him about my situation and he wanted to know why I was moving out. I did not go into how very bad things could be. I just glossed over by saying that my dad yelled at me. He told me that no home is perfect and that I should just leave when he yelled at me at that time and tell him that he ruined my day. That is not so easy when you do not drive and also when you do not like to go places when you feel contaminated. I would only go places immediately after bathing and getting dressed and incidents are not likely to follow such a time table. Although he did not understand, it was so nice that he cared enough to ask and give advice. He thought the lady was nice when he took me. She thought he seemed like a fine LDS boy when I informed her of our faith. She was RLDS herself. Moving in with her fell through ,by the way, as she decided not to take in another border at the time.

I haven't seen this young man for years. He is married now with children. I think of him sometimes when I need to remember that men can be nice to women and not want anything out of it. I have an inner smile when I think of how he seemed to always try to insert "my friend" at least once when we ran across each other. I think of how comforting it was to have someone just sit with me. I do not doubt that he is my friend. He won more than my friendship. He won my respect.


annegb said...

What a wonderful post, Barb, thank you.

This guy sounds uniquely kind and empathetic. I would like to have a friend like that, that would drive you to a boarding house.

I'm going to think of silence next time someone needs me. Good post.

Barb said...

Thank you, Annegb! He was an all around nice person and very sincere.

I just remembered another act of service by this him. I took my cousin's son to Church a few times when he was about four. I would only take him for Primary. As I do not drive, this required someone leaving after Sacrament and going to his house that was within minutes to the Church. It was Christmas Eve when I asked this friend if he could take me. He agreed. When my cousin's son seemed reluctant to go to Church when we arrived at the house, he said that he did not have to go. I sensed that they very much wanted him out of the house and they may have said as much in not so many words. With preparations for Christmas, they probably needed him out of the way especially as he is hyperactive.

When we were in the car, my friend quickly connected with my cousin's son who had delayed language and did not speak much yet. He asked him what his favorite color was. My friend said his was blue and my cousin's son agreed that was his too.

Elizabeth-W said...

Barb, he definitely sounded like a neat guy.
Happy New Year to both you and Annegb!

Barb said...

Thank you, Elizabeth.
Happy New Year to all!