I recently read a Facebook thread by Free Radio, about the kindness of strangers. As well as being a really inspiring feel-good read, it really got me thinking. There are numerous times in my life, where I’ve had a stranger run after me, to return something that myself or one of my children have dropped. There have been many strangers who have offered prayers to my family when I’ve been in hospital. There have been many people over the years, who have helped me lift something heavy, change a flat tyre or jump start my car. I have been touched by the kindness of strangers, many many times in my life, but some memories, stand out more than others.
Knowing how much I enjoyed reading other peoples tales about the kindness of strangers, I thought I’d share a few of mine…
When I was 8 years old and in hospital with Leukaemia, Many people, including those who didn’t know me, prayed for me, knitted me dolls and sent me gifts. The local British Legion clubbed together to buy me a Walkman. I listened to that Walkman for many many years and whilst cassette tapes are very much a thing of the past, I actually still have it!
At the age of 13, a friend and I cycled much further from home than we were supposed to. We cycled many miles up a narrow and notoriously dangerous 60 limit road. On the way back, my trousers got caught in my pedal, pushing my foot onto my front wheel and in turn propelling me at high speed, over my handlebars. I left a long line of skin on the road, from my hand, elbow, knees and hip. I took all the skin off part of one hand and one hip. I also broke my arm and winded myself. I managed to roll out of the road and into the gateway to a farm, but I was too injured and too shocked to ride home. We didn’t have mobile phones. A lorry driver saw us and pulled up. He cleaned and dressed all my wounds and let us use his mobile phone. We thanked this lovely man and he drove away. Unfortunately, my friend had gotten confused and didn’t realise until half an hour later, that she’d told her granddad the wrong road. We knew he wouldn’t find us, so my friend tried to wheel both bicycles up the road, whilst I limped along behind with both helmets and backpacks. A van driver stopped, put us, our bikes and our stuff into the back of his van and drove us home. We were just two dumb, irresponsible teenagers, but we had two saviours that day.
When I was 18, I accidentally ended up getting locked out of my flat, in JUST a dressing gown. And I mean JUST a dressing gown. My boyfriend was 2 miles away in the town centre, at work and I didn’t have a phone, or his number. My 80 year old neighbour, very kindly lent me her clothes. Shoes, skirt, blouse, pants and bra. She also gave me the last of her pension, so that I could get a bus to town and get a door key from my boyfriend. Obviously I paid her back, but without her kindness, I’d have been walking 2 miles barefoot in a polar bear dressing gown, through the town centre.
Once, when I was sitting on a train with a broken heart, sobbing, a girl my age, came up to me and without having spoken to me before, said “No man is worth your tears, because the one who is, won’t make you cry”. She gave me her phone number on a piece of paper. She was a stranger, who simultaneously knew I needed a friend and space at the same time. She had no idea how low I felt that day or how much her words, changed my life. We don’t talk very often, but we are still in touch now, almost a decade later.
When I was 20, I was pregnant, homeless and had nobody. The council wouldn’t house me, I was living in my car and on friends’ sofas and I’d lost all the money I’d made from working on a rental house, because I’d failed the credit checks. I ended up in hospital, because I couldn’t afford to eat and my baby had stopped moving. I tried to keep strong, but on starting the Alpha course at the local church, I broke down. In that moment, strangers became friends and despite my cynical lack of belief in religion at the time, the church went to great lengths to help me. They paid the deposit on a flat for me and helped me pass the necessary checks. They took me on a weekend away and made sure I was well fed. I paid back every penny, when I moved out of the house, but without the kindness of those strangers at church, my life and my babies life, could have turned out very different. That baby was Bunny… she will be 8 years old in two weeks time.
When I gave birth to the twins, I nearly lost my life to HELLP Syndrome. In the HDU, I bonded with my nurses (who were also midwives) as they weren’t allowed to leave my room, due to my critical condition. They were with me 24/7. When I left HDU, despite them still having to sit in HDU with a different patient and work long shifts… one of those nurses came to visit me on the ward, every day until I was discharged, because she wanted to check I was okay. On one occasion she realised I wasn’t okay. She sat and cuddled me whilst I cried and set about getting me the treatment I needed, even though she was off duty and I wasn’t even on her ward.
When I was 27, I had thyroid cancer. Again, there were many people who prayed for me, whom I’d never even met. Including a truly lovely lady I met in Waitrose café, at a particularly low point in my treatment, who reached across the table, took my hand in hers, and prayed, in front of me, for me and my family. Again I was still uncertain on where I stood with religion, but I took great comfort from this lady’s kindness. But during that year, I also had an immense amount of support from bloggers and people on Twitter, most of whom I’d never met, who all gave me the moral support and courage to get through my treatment.
Sometimes, strangers will go out of their way to help people or to do something nice for somebody, without expecting any thanks or knowing the impact their actions have had.
Sometimes the kindness of strangers, can come from something as simple as just a smile.
I have been blessed many times in my life, by random acts of kindness from strangers. And in turn, I have offered kindness to strangers myself. Nothing huge, but small gestures or words can go a long way, when a person is having a tough time. The world can be a cruel and relentless place at times, but there are angels on earth too. Selfless individuals who put other people first. Reflecting on memories like these, make me want to be a better person.