My Godmother Maura died last week. It took me by surprise. I heard the news not long after I had returned to Sydney from a trip to Dublin to see my mother. My mother is 85 and physically well for her age, but her mind is settling slowly. She lives in a beautiful retirement home . They just love her there. “if we had a home full of Vera’s we would be happy as…” one of the nurses told me.
My mother never complains, she is just happy and content being really well looked after. She gets a visit every day from one of my sisters. You know, there is always something new to learn. I have discovered that the currency of power and status in a retirement home is the number of visitors you get. My mother is the Queen Bee! She gets more visits than anyone else there. I am so grateful to my sisters for that. It is a big commitment and they honour it faithfully.
Though my mother never complains, she does suffer quite a lot of pain. The nurses now have to look onto her eyes for the tell-tale signs. Then they can help her. She won’t ask. “Ah sure, its only a bit of pain”, she’ll say, “nothing to bother about”.
My Mother and Maura were first cousins and best friends and hung out together growing up and in the dancing years before they were married. When I look back and remember them together they were a hoot. They both had that sparkle in their eyes and were never far from laughter, and I know they would have broken many young mens’ hearts in their dancing days at the Metropole and the Olympia.
Maura had this wonderful, wonderful warm laugh. It washed over you like the melodic strains of a Strauss waltz and left you feeling bathed in warmth and love. She was probably the most peaceful and kind person I knew in my childhood – kind and gentle and warm and loving. I never knew my Grandmothers – both had died before I was born. But I think if I had, it would have been like being with Maura. She was probably the person who most showed me kindness and unconditional love in my childhood.
Hearing of her passing reminded me of the impact of kindness. I think kindness is one of the most powerful demonstrations of humanity there is.
For me, it is a statement from one person to another that “I care, you matter and that is important to me to show you that I care”.
An act of kindness crosses all boundaries, all dimensions, all levels of humankind. It is as important as a smile, a wave, stepping back to let someone else go first, a hug, a cup of tea, a coin in a tin, or a gentle touch. It is listening and not talking, it is bending down to listen to a child, it is patiently waiting for the person in front who is moving more slowly than you. There are so many more ways to show kindness. It is one of the great spiritual gifts.
It is, I believe, one of the most powerful forms of validation I know of, an acknowledgement from one human to another at its most basic level, that you exist, that you are of value and that I acknowledge you.
I used to think of Maura often, and I could not believe that I was in Dublin for a whole week and it never occurred to me to go visit her. I am saddened at the missed opportunity, but on reflection, it has reminded me of her legacy. Maura’s legacy is that wherever she went, she showed kindness.
And my moment of Absolute Clarity is not to spend too much time focused on myself and my own petty stuff, but to look up and look around and take the opportunity to be kind.
Have a great week. Brian.
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