Random act of kindness

Nearly two weeks ago a Derecho storm wreaked havoc on South Jersey. While derecho uprooted trees, blew down poles and power lines, and left thousands of residents without electricity for a week or longer, me, my husband, and our nine year-old son were pool side in Cancun, Mexico.

Pool side – Cancun, Mexico

We learned of the devastating storm a few hours later from an unnerving text message from our daughter and phone calls from family members. Thankfully, my mom and our daughter were fine and the structure of our home remained intact.

Unfortunately, many other residents’ homes and cars were damaged by falling trees and flying debris.

From what I hear and read, the storm was not forecasted and took everyone by surprise.  So residents were ill prepared, helpless, and had to ride out the storm, cautiously listening to the destruction occur around their homes.

My daughter sent us a video and a few pictures of the aftermath. The visuals were jaw-dropping. Clearly our yard was impacted by the storm.

Damaged gazebo

Although the gazebos, yard furniture and other items such as firewood, and light fixtures were tossed around the back yard, both hubby and I were more saddened by one of two cherry trees in the front yard that was uprooted.

Up-rooted cherry tree

It would be at least four (4) days before we returned home. The storm occurred during a hot and humid heat wave and since the power was out, the tree would die due to lack of water and root exposure.

Sadly, we were resolved to the fact that our six-year old cherry tree would be dead when we arrive home. The tree would have to be replaced.

Four days later we returned home.

The ride home from the airport is quite eerie. Metal street signs bent in half electrical wires dangling from trees—ancient oversized oak and pine trees halved by lightning and completely uprooted—enormous size patches of grass uprooted by trees with the roots attached!

I’m seeing the destruction in real-time yet I feel like I am in some sort of dream where I’m watching a breaking story on the morning news. Oh wow! We missed a big one!

As we turn on our street and slowly approach our home, the rhythm of my heart increases; the pounding in my chest grows louder. I know that our house is structurally okay, but I’m concerned about possible landscape damage.

When we built our home, the builder removed every tree in the front yard! Grr… We love trees in our yard so we had to start from scratch and plant new ones. Six years later, the landscape is complete and the trees are doing well.

I glance up only to see the cherry tree looking upright exactly as it did before we left for our vacation. Its only addition is the two to three-foot wooden stake in the ground with the yellow string tied to a branch to stabilize and balance the tree.

My face hurt from smiling so hard! OMG!! Who fixed the tree?!?!  Neither our immediate neighbors on each side of our house, my mom or daughter knew who fixed the tree. One day the tree was lying on the ground; the next day is standing straight up.

Standing tall and all better!

Finally after a week or so, the mystery was solved. A wonderful random act of kindness was bestowed upon us by our friend and neighbor BD!!

During a conversation with BD, I mentioned the mystery. He casually and nonchalantly confessed to fixing the tree.

He said that he’d looked at the twin trees; one upright, one uprooted and didn’t think that the downed tree would survive until we returned. Although he was sitting in his vehicle when he confessed, the feelings of gratitude and jubilation made me want to reach in his car and kiss him! Lol! I resisted the urge, but graciously thank him.  I cannot thank him enough for such a wonderful act of kindness. He saved our tree!! Yippeeee!!

For  a few years now, I’ve gleefuly participated in random acts of kindness. You know, randomly surprising someone, especially a person you don’t know, by doing something kind for them.

I enjoy doing goofy and random acts such as paying the toll for a few cars in line behind me,  anonymously paying for coffee for a stranger in line at Wawa, or doing some other small deed that will bring a smile to someone’s face.  It feels unusually strange to be on the receiving side of a RAOK.

Fixing the tree was probably no big deal to him, but it made my day and then some! When was the last time you did a random act of kindness? The best part of it is that you are giving to the un-expectant person. You will catch people off guard and genuinely surprise them.

If you are having a bad day, the act will boost your spirit and theirs.

Go ahead and try it; it’s so much fun!

To my tree saving neighbor, YOU’RE THE BEST!  Thanks again!!


From super sour to bitter sweet

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”

Maria Robinson

When I returned home from the gym yesterday evening, there was a beautifully wrapped plate of delectable cookies on the kitchen counter.

The previous day, I shared with my neighbors (an elderly widow and her 40 something year-old son) the recent passing of my mother-in-law. They said they knew something was wrong because our yard still wasn’t decorated for the Christmas holiday season. I told them that on Friday we planned to put out the decorations.

They expressed heartwarming condolences and offered an unexpected but generous offer.

“We’ll come over and help James put up the decorations!”

“Customary to (their) deep Italian traditions,” they wanted to bring a little something over for our family. So yesterday they brought the cookies over.

So what’s the big deal?

Well, seven years ago when we moved into our home, her husband, Mr. D. threatened us with a law suit. Why?

“Because two (2) inches of the piping from our water-well rested on their property!”

I kid you not, two inches!! In spite of the fact we paid a land surveyor twice, Mr. D was right. Two inches of the piping rested on his property. The situation grew quite ugly and tempers flared on both sides. On one occasion, during dinner, I look up and Mr. D. was in our back yard with a tape measure. I lost my patience that day and gave him a piece of my mind. Hostile doesn’t even begin to explain our relationship with our neighbor.

Hubby and I have always had a great relationship with all of our neighbors. This ugliness was a first for us and we were really taken back by it all.

The well was moved and we decided to put the fiasco behind us. A few years later, Mr. D. grew sick died. Hubby and I continued to just be ourselves. Always smiling and waving to saying hello and just trying to be cordial. Over time, we’ve developed a better relationship with the D. family and at times offering help with the lawn mower, other yard equipment, and the likes of preparing for coastal storms.

Yesterday’s act of kindness by the D’s and a conversation with a colleague, made me realize how far we’ve come as neighbors. Both of our families have grown, in terms of our perspective and opinion of the other.

The progression of our relationship clearly demonstrates that:

          • A negative situation can turn out positive
          • Our attitude can affect the attitude of others
          • Time is capable of healing wounds
          • Typically we will receive what we give
          • A little effort can go further than one might think

I am happy with our new ending and I say thank you to the D. family!

Happy holidays!