I love it when people ask my husband, “Is your wife really as kind as she seems?”
It’s a very sweet question, but the real reason I love it is because it always puts my husband on the spot. It’s a Catch-22.
If he says, “No, she’s not really that nice,” then he looks like a guy who should be writing a Meanness is Contagious column. If he says, “Yes! She is absolutely that kind,” then he is a liar.
I’ll be honest. My husband gets the worst of me. There are times when I’m preoccupied or just plain tired and expect him to deal with the fact that I don’t feel like listening to the trials and tribulations of being a basketball coach.
If I have had a bad day, though, he had better be waiting to hear all about it with a compassionate and attentive ear.
Hell hath no fury like a woman who notices her husband watching SportsCenter while she is trying to complain about something.
There are days when I wouldn’t blame him for telling people about my mean streak, and other days when he says I make him a better person. We are in it ’til death do us part, which for us means that we have to look at the long-term rewards of our relationship instead of getting caught up in any minor annoyances.
I was reminded of this principle recently while reading the eulogy my step-mother, Deb, wrote when her mom passed away.
“When Mom first met Dad at age 15, she knew she wanted to marry him. He was ‘her Ken’ as she always liked to say, as well as the smartest and most handsome man around. When they married, Grandma had Dad promise he always would take care of Mom. After Mom’s dementia became advanced, Dad delayed moving Mom to an assisted living facility because of this promise. Also, Dad liked taking care of Mom. He loved washing her hair and helping her in every way he could.
“Dad did the best he could, but it just got too hard, and we persuaded him it was time. Moving Mom to a facility was the most difficult thing he ever did. This, however, also was a way of taking care of Mom. Dad lovingly took care of her for 64 years.
“Even when neither Mom nor Dad could communicate because of her dementia and his stroke, it was clear how they felt about each other. After Mom’s dementia diagnosis, Dad showed Mom a lot of physical affection with hugs and back rubs. His patience with her forgetfulness and memory loss was incredible. Although Mom’s physical appearance deteriorated, Dad’s eyes would light up when he saw Mom as if she we re the most beautiful woman alive.
“Every chance he had, he would hold and stroke Mom’s hand. He made sure she knew he always would be there for her. It was evident Mom knew Dad and was aware he loved her more than ever.”
Thank you, Deb, for letting me share that touching tribute to your mother.
A life well-lived and well-loved is about letting kindness carry you through the ebb and flow of this world, with the one you love.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. Sheis an author, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Bison Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.