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doilies_5630August 22, 2013 | by Darcy Blake | What do George Saunders, and my friend Elaine have in common? They’re big on  kindness.

George Saunders, ‪The New York Times‪ bestselling author of Tenth of December,‬ delivered the convocation speech at Syracuse University for the class of 2013 titled, “Err In The Direction Of Kindness,” in which he discussed what he regrets most in his life. Namely, he is sorry for his failures of kindness, particularly one he was responsible for in seventh grade when he was rude to an awkward new student. [1]

I thought of Saunders’ speech when Elaine, also a kindness disciple, made dinner for me for the second time since my DBS surgery. I first met Elaine at one of our Parkinson’s Women Support luncheons in 2011 when she mentioned to our group that she had knit a square for the Global Parkinson’s quilt project. When you talk to Elaine, a retired controller, you quickly get that she’s a person whose desire to give to the world doesn’t stop with finances and knitting. When she is not volunteering as a financial consultant, and following a strict exercise regiment to keep her PD seemingly invisible, she performs in her own words, “small” acts of kindness. I’m one of her lucky recipients. [2]

 “Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth?,” George Saunders asked in his commencement speech. “Those who were kindest to you, I bet.”

This is so true in my case. The person I think of most fondly when I think of kindness in my life is my grandmother. She was generous when she had nothing to spare, but her unconditional love and small gifts of hand-crocheted doilies will stay with me forever. It is not the size of giving that is most important. It is the thought and the love that comes with it. Right next to my grandmother, I’ll now be adding Elaine to my heroes of kindness.

[1] http://6thfloor.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/31/george-saunderss-advice-to-graduates/?_r=0

2 https://parkinsonswomen.com/2013/05/26/the-first-global-quilt/

KQED Forum on The Case for Kindness: http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201308161000


4 thoughts on “Heroes of Kindness

  1. So right. We need to all figure out kindness is the mission, before we get sick. It is the gift and reward of life.

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