The strange yet obvious thing about moving to a new town is that nobody knows you.
I can’t quite tell you where 10 years have gone, but I can tell you that I did eventually make friends and then became so close with those friends that I can’t remember ever not being friends with them.
Thanks to my children, meeting new people in Ohio has been much easier. I have three kids who are involved in all sorts of activities that lead me directly to other parents with similar interests.
One of my closest friends here is named Liz. She has lived in Athens her entire life, so when she invited me out to dinner with her circle of friends, it was like some sort of social science experiment. I got to hear stories of who dated whose husband back in high school and how they snuck into the movie theater in college. These are women who have been there for each other through love, marriage and the baby carriage. It’s truly beautiful.
Their bond is so close and so filled with acts of kindness that I don’t think they even notice it. It’s like breathing to them.
I happened to witness one of the most touching acts of kindness I had seen in a while just because it came up as a side-note in conversation. Liz was telling me that she and a few other women had taken the previous day off work to hang out with their friend Becca, whose dad died in July. That mid-December day would have been his birthday.
I’ve met Becca before. She’s either lighting up the room with her ever-present smile or sending the place into a fit of hysterics with some quick-witted, sarcastic comment. I immediately understood when Liz said Becca wasn’t one to let people know something was bothering her. Becca subtly mentioned to her friends that she didn’t know how she’d handle the day, that it would be hard.
That was it. She simply said it would be hard, and that was enough to round up the troops. Three of her friends took the day off work so Becca wouldn’t have to be alone. I would be willing to bet there were several more women who wanted to be there but couldn’t figure out how to play hooky without getting fired.
The friends went out for breakfast and then planned on spending the day shopping and watching movies, but no one ever hit the “play” button on the first film. They shopped and then spent the rest of the day sharing stories about Becca’s dad and looking at pictures. Becca admitted there was some crying but said laughter and good memories quickly dried the tears. She also mentioned they discovered chocolate-covered potato chips. I was sure to tell her that we know all about those in Fargo.
Sometimes we spend so much time thinking we should be doing more that we don’t realize how much we are already doing. Yes, I absolutely believe that we should pursue kindness and add it to our lives systematically and intentionally, but isn’t it precious when we realize it’s just a part of who we are?
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. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.