Thursday, 6 December 2012

Feeling uber inspired

Feeling uber inspired
6 December 2012


I often make little notes on my cell phone, simply always related to the blog.  Ideas for stories or a thought that I’ve had.  Normally something that I think would make an awesome story or an idea I would like to explore more.  I’ve learnt that it is best to just take that little moment and put it in quick, before the thought leaves me and it’s gone forever more.  My worst is when I’m driving and I get a wee bit of inspiration.  I’m always so worried I’ll get distracted and forget what my bright spark had been.

So just this morning, I pondered about what an awesome concept kindness is.  How very far it can travel and the impact it can have.  How a simple and small thing like a smile can absolutely make someone’s day.  It really and truly can.  How goodness and generosity of spirit goes such a long way.  I hope that if I’ve taught my kids nothing else, that they at least go into the world with this idea.  Being friendly to someone doesn’t cost you a cent, yet the rewards you can reap will amaze you.  Which is not why one does it after all.  It defies the whole purpose.  But still, it ends up coming back to you a thousand fold.

Just this week, I saw two total polar opposites of this in action.  The other day I was doing my shopping in Checkers and as I approached the bakery, I heard this lady ranting and raving like a banshee, I tell you.  Screeching at another lady for “pushing” in front of her in the line.  All this, just to get a fresh loaf of bread or rolls or whatever.  How terribly undignified.  There were only two of them waiting to be served.  The screecher, whom I estimate to be about 40 and the “pusher-inner”, who was probably about 75.  The starting point of the line is rather dubious with a bit of grey area as to where it actually begins.  I can’t imagine the “pusher-inner” pushing in on purpose.  In all likelihood, she was confused as to where she should stand.  Be that as it may, and even if she had been pushing in (which I seriously doubt), all the screecher had to do, if she really felt the need, was to speak to her in a polite and kind manner.  However she chose the alternate route.  She embarrassed the other lady, I’m sure.  And probably embarrassed the lady behind the counter too.  But sadly for her, the person she did the most damage to was herself.  She both embarrassed and humiliated herself – in a very unbecoming way.  I felt so sorry for the poor little lady.  How awful to be treated in such a manner.  I would hope that the screecher regretted her outburst later, but more than likely she never did.  Can you imagine being married to someone like that?  Or her being your example if she’s your mother?  Or if she’s your child?

I believe in kindness.  In doing good unto others.  In favours and helping out.  In smiling at strangers.  In letting little old ladies go in front of me in the queue.  In making small talk to others while waiting in line.  In tipping the car guards and petrol attendants and always chatting to them.  In fact I have a regular car guard at Checkers, where I do shopping each day.  And Mutha and I have become fast friends.  He comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo and is teaching me French in drips and drabs whenever I see him.  He always looks out for me and gets me a parking spot.  And even if he is not working close to the entrance, I will still look him up and go and park in his zone.  On hot summer’s days I buy him a cooldrink and just for a spoil, the occasional chocolate too.  He always greets with a big friendly smile and a bellowing “Hello Madame H!  How are you today?”.  All said in the most beautiful French accent which utterly delights me.  He knows my kids, my husband and my Mom – I’ve introduced him to them all.  And so from kindness I’ve made a sweet friend.

Today I dropped Amber off at her end of year class party at a class mate’s house.  A swimming party – the very best kind on a hot summer’s day.  This friend lives at the very top of an exclusive and rather pricey golfing estate.  The most beautiful views.  Truly magnificent.  And as I left on my way home, admiring the surroundings, I came across a domestic worker.  She was also at the very top of the hill.  But whereas I had the benefit of a set of wheels and aircon to boot, she had to hoof it down the hill, and then all the way into town, to the nearest taxi rank – quite a few kilometres away.  A long trudge, particularly in blistering heat.  So, naturally without giving it a thought, I pulled right over, opened my window and offered her a lift.  She literally jogged to my car in her eagerness to get in.  Such a friendly lady.  Mentally I saluted her as a woman who’s doing what she has to do to provide for her family.  We immediately started chatting.  And on our way down the hill, I made a further three stops, all the way collecting more domestic workers in my car.

What a fabulous group of ladies.  We nattered and chattered like old friends.  Laughing and enquiring about each other’s lives.  And in the short space of time that I spent in their company I learnt quite a lot.  They all came from different areas.  One lived in Macassar, one in Lwandle, one in Kraaifontein and the last in Khayalitsha.  Their period of employ with their current employers ranged from 2 years to 23 years.  Some worked for swallowing families, who only came to SA in the summer.  Some worked full time, while some only worked a few days a week for their families.  And then I asked them the most binding of questions that women always ask each other.  “Do you have any children?”.  One lady had three.  Another had two.  The oldest lady had four and was a granny already.  And the last lady said, “I don’t have a child of my own, I have a foster child”.  My jaw literally dropped.  What an incredible gift.  Especially in my opinion as this was a lady in her middle thirties, who was in all likelihood battling and working really hard to provide for her family.  For all intents and purposes she was a “blue collar worker”, doing manual labour.

My interest was instantly piqued and we all started asking her about it.  She said that her “daughter” was a child she found in her heart.  It just sounded so sweet.  "Oh," I said, "a child you found in your heart.  That’s lovely".  To which she replied, “No, I found her in my yard”.  I barely believed what I was hearing.  She said that one day there was just a little toddler placed in her yard.  Nobody knows by who, why or exactly when.  They have no idea how old she is, who her birth parents are, when her birthday is or any such detail.  But immediately, this lady saw it as a gift and rose to the challenge.  She contacted the authorities and working through the system of social workers, she has been fostering her daughter for four and a half years.  They estimate her to have been about one year and seven months when they found her, and she’s just turned six.  She says that she just loves her so much.  They picked her a special birthday date of her very own and she is raising her as her daughter.  What an amazing story!  It truly humbled me.  She could’ve chosen the easy path and handed this child over to authorities.  Instead she is loving this gift that she found in her garden.  This is surely financially a more difficult choice that she made, requiring many sacrifices.  What a remarkable woman.  Her love shone out for her child.  She gushed about how cute she is, how sweet and lovely and how she adored her very dark complexion.  Clearly she delights in her daughter.

And when I dropped my new friends off at the taxi rank about 15 minutes after meeting them, I felt so enriched.  Perhaps I showed a small kindness to them in offering them a lift, but they showed a bigger kindness to me by giving me a glimpse into their world.  This lady’s courage and compassion fills me with hope for our future.  I wish I had taken her name or her number, as I would love to help her.  She touched my heart and my life and I will remember her story.

It also gave me pause for thought.  Who would I rather have around my dinner table one night?  The upper class, affluent screecher?  Or the humble domestic worker, saving the world one child at a time.  It’s a no-brainer for sure.

Well done, special lady.  Your child from your yard and your heart is truly lucky to have you.  It is not an accident that her heart daughter landed up in her yard.  I believe that the birth parents chose her specifically as they knew their child would be loved and cared for.  Perhaps a final act of great compassion from their side.

And what a great choice they made.

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