There is still kindness

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To the Editor:

Yesterday, on my way to the harbor, I waved to the homeless woman in the park who was sitting in her camp chair with her feet up on one of the green wooden benches while she ate. We called out our usual greeting, “How are you doing today?”

“I’m fine, how are you?”

“Oh, I’m fine, too!” is always said with a cheery wave, no matter who asked the question first, and even if we are not fine. But, we are always fine. She is fine, and I am fine. We persevere.

I told my daughters about my almost daily exchanges with this lady in the park, and one of them asked how I knew she was homeless. I guess I don’t. But, her grocery cart has a duffle bag underneath, and the various tote bags she totes seem to be very heavy.

In the few short weeks since I’ve known her, our somewhat one-sided conversations (she usually talks and I usually listen) revolve around a tumultuous childhood described with dispassion, and a present reality full of hope for when her ship comes in. Perhaps that is why she is drawn to the harbor.

Her name is Kathy, and she is a lovely human being.

As I walked by yesterday, we exchanged our usual greetings and small talk that is really very large, and Kathy tossed me a peanut granola bar, the same one she was eating, and told me I had to try it because she was sure I would love it.

I picked up the food-pantry-size granola bar from the grass at my feet where it landed after a remarkably accurate throw from a socially distant six feet away, and thanked her for sharing what she had. I told her I was going to freeze it and try it that way because I love frozen Kit-Kats, and she said that would make her teeth hurt, and besides she doesn’t have a freezer.

I said goodbye, and walked up the hill past the bench where the lady from the kitchen store was sitting eating her lunch, which appeared to be just a large bag of potato chips. I know this lady pretty well, except for her name, because I buy a lot of kitchen gadgets. She was sitting close enough to have heard the whole exchange, so when I walked by her I held out the granola bar and whispered the way Broadway audiences used to do, “Isn’t this the sweetest thing?”

She nodded and said in her not Broadway voice, “There is still so much kindness in the world.”

There is. There is still so much kindness in the world. 

May you buy every kitchen gadget you will never need, eat a bag of potato chips for lunch if you need to — and, above all else, share the gift of yourself with someone else. It will be enough. 

Thank you for the granola bar, Kathy. I froze it.

 

Patty Allen
Edgartown