My husband passed away in August of this year. Many people knew my husband in various ways and at different points in his lifetime. While each of them had a unique story or experience about him, there was one underlying, common theme: his kindness. He touched more people than I ever imagined; his funeral was proof of that.
Willie aka “Bib” was known for his smile, his crazy jokes, and his chameleonic ability to make anyone feel like they’d known him for years. Early on in our relationship, something happened, and I realized that he was different than anyone I had ever met. We went to Wal-Mart for some groceries, walked around for a bit, and headed for the checkout. The cashier was a woman around the same age as me. She looked tired and a bit sad. My husband, without thinking, said, “How’re you doing, Beautiful?” She immediately looked at me with wide, shocked eyes. I read her expression and knew exactly what she was thinking because I was having the same exact thought: Why on Earth is he calling her beautiful and I am standing right here?! I gave the confused cashier a small smile and said nothing. I am not the type to make a scene or confront my partner in a public place. Seeing that his comment didn’t seem to affect me, the cashier brightened a little and smiled in earnest. They chatted for a minute or two more while she rang up the rest of our items. The whole encounter took less than 15 minutes, and we were on our way. Even in that short time, her mood seemed to shift.
I didn’t address my feelings until much later. I asked Bib, “Why did you call another woman ‘Beautiful’ when I was with you? Did you not think how much that hurt me?” His immediate expression let me know my answer: he didn’t. He told me that he noticed the cashier was sad, seemed down, and he only wanted to make her feel better. He explained that he didn’t mean to hurt me in any way, he only was thinking of making her smile. He said he was wrong and apologized. I told him that I understood and that I didn’t think he was being intentionally hurtful. I did let him know that it was a one-time thing and that if he were to ever do it again, I had better never find out.
The point of this story is to show how my husband operated. He saw someone hurting/having a bad day and he tried to make it better with a simple compliment. Willie never saw people for what they were on the outside and had the uncanny ability to see a person’s inner beauty. He not once judged anyone he met or forced his opinions on anyone. He simply gave. He spread his kindness through laughs, compliments, silly nicknames, money, car rides, food, phone calls, and everything in between. We, as a whole, forget to be kind. We get so wrapped up in our own lives and problems, that our thoughts turn selfish. The needs, wants, or feelings of others become inconsequential and we can only see our own misery. This needs to change. I am not implying that we simply put ourselves last and endure our own harsh treatment; I am simply saying that a kind gesture goes a mighty long way.
So, on his 45th birthday, and on this Thanksgiving holiday, take a page from my husband’s handbook. Tell someone they look good, compliment a stranger on something, remember to thank everyone who helps you, and keep an eye out for those who need help. Small, seemingly insignificant, actions can make great, powerful impacts. Be like Bib; be kindhearted, loving, and open…and the world will thank you!