My mother knew that my favorite birthday cake was chocolate with her smooth dark buttery chocolate icing. Every year in my youth she placed before me a beautiful single-layer homemade chocolate birthday cake. I blew out the candles which glowed with the light of her love for me. As I was her birthday boy she cut the first piece of the cake just for me. Mom always gave me the piece which contained a shiny dime wrapped in aluminum foil. That tradition for me and my siblings and that dime reflected my mother’s kindness. That simple act made me feel special and valued by her. Even though polio changed me and the number of the candles on each cake in the years which followed were different, I always received from Mom that same simple token of love and kindness from her.
My mother died in 2010. Yet, the remembrance of the dimes she placed in my birthday cakes keeps reflecting her acts of kindness to me.
After the polio epidemic in America, the March of Dimes campaign raised millions for victims like and thousands of others. Those acts of kindness in donating dimes even paid for the Iron Lung I used for four years after contracting polio.
In the early 1990s, I took a Rainbow Trout fishing trip on the White River with my dear friend, Bill. (I name him Bill as he and his beautiful wife are private people). Bill and I had one of the best guides on the river, “Hot Dog Curtis.” As we peacefully floated down a portion of the White River near Bull Shoals, we were catching Rainbow Trout right and left. Bill was so impressed with Hot Dog’s talents he asked for his business card. As Hot Dog leaned across the boat and pulled his card out of his wallet, a dime fell out of it and into the river. The water was moving nearly 14 miles an hour because a large number of flood gates were open at Bull Shoals Dam. The spring-fed water was nearly 40°. When the dime hit the water, Hot Dog screamed, “Oh, No. I’ve lost the dime my father gave me before he died. It’s my good luck charm.”
Instantly Bill said, “Don’t worry, Hot Dog. I’ll jump in the water and get it for you.” Hot Dog replied, “No, you don’t have to do that for me.” To that Bill said, “Yes, I do. No problem.” To my amazement, Bill took off his shirt and jumped into the frigid water. Under the conditions, I thought the chances of recovering the dime at the bottom of the river was impossible. After the first dive into the water, Bill came up empty. After a deep breath, Bill dove back in. Again, for the second time, Bill came up empty. Then, on his third attempt, Bill rose to the surface with Hot Dog’s dime in his right hand and gave it back to him. Hot Dog profusely thanked Bill for his sacrificial act of human kindness.
I had an occasion to speak to Hot Dog last week. Hot Dog is 62 years old now. We spoke about the trip he took with Bill and me many years ago. Hot Dog said that he doesn’t know where the wallet or the dime is anymore. But, he said he will never forget Bill stepping out of the warmth of his comfort zone that day, diving into the frigid water, and doing an exceptional act of kindness for him.
Acts of kindness never die. They keep on living and keep on giving to us purpose and self-worth. Acts of kindness are not confined to those from my mother or those from Bill. All of us have received them from others. We all have the capacity to be kind to others.
God has spoken to us in Scripture about kindness.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such, there is no law.
Let us pray,
God, in prayer please help our hearts to see and seize opportunities to be kind to others. It is in giving acts of kindness to others that we receive pleasure in knowing we have truly helped them.
God, please enable us to know that when we are kind to others for their sake, not ours that we are serving You, our Creator of everlasting life, love, and light.
Last, God, may we acknowledge that a small act of kindness can have profound consequences for another. Stopping to give a bottle of cold water to a homeless man or woman on a hot day; paying for a cup of coffee for the person behind in the line at Starbucks, or just listening to a person recounting a loss or personal difficulty, or a receiving a dime in a birthday cake for a young boy. Well, God, like Your love for us, our kindness can shine in the memory of others for a lifetime. Kindness can even author a prayer like this. Amen
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Jack H. Emmott is a Senior Counsel of Gray, Reed & McGraw, LLP, a 145-lawyer full-service firm in Houston, Dallas, and Waco, Texas, a Board-Certified Family Law and Master Credentialed Collaborative Law Professional Divorce Attorney, Mediator, Author, Entrepreneur, and Inspirational Speaker. For more information about Jack or his latest book, Bending Angels: Living Messengers of God’s Love, go to www.BendingAngel.com website.