When Kindness Arrives At Night

Genuine goodness, the kind that overwhelms you and leaves you speechless, and makes you wonder if you are deserving of such an act, stays often hidden. Actually, truth to be told, it can show up in the dark.

I know, because it parked in front of our home. I watched it arrive!

The days, before the action of a stranger would change me forever, went by fast.

In the first week, my husband left for work every day in the morning half an hour earlier. The man who, for as long as I know him, hit snooze a dozen times every morning, now got up extremely early and he couldn’t wait to get to work. To this day, twelve years later, this hasn’t changed.

I envied him. He was providing for us, while I was stuck in an empty home with nothing to do. I felt worthless and small. I was a nobody in a city where I didn’t know anybody.

We had moved our air mattress to the master bedroom, and now the camping table and the small chairs were the only furniture in our living room. We had placed them in front of the big panorama window, which was the perfect spot for a dining table because it overlooked the backyard. I could watch the dogs play for hours. I built flowerbeds and herb gardens in my mind.

I had printed flyers at Kinko’s, had offered my service to all the neighbor homes I could reach by foot. I can clean your home or help you to get your yard ready for spring. I had high hopes and waited for a call to come in, but it was an older neighborhood with lots of elderly people, sadly most of them already had helpers on hand. My phone did not ring.

I knew my health had become an issue. At night I couldn’t fall asleep. The dizziness and the spinning kept me wide awake. Whenever I closed my eyes, I started whooshing, that’s the word I used to explain how it felt. Like something was pulling me to a dark place, like I was spiraling down, sometimes floating for a while back and forth, even though my head was laying perfectly still.

All thoughts crossed my mind. Stroke, anxiety, brain tumor! I suppose it’s normal that our imagination goes wild when we don’t know what we are dealing with. The internet is full of information, we all have become hobby doctors. Symptoms and diagnosis with just a few mouse clicks. I was no exception. My health issues angered me so much. Why now? I needed to find work; I needed to be healthy.

How to get the word out?

Craigslist had helped us to find a home and so I used the same website now to find cheap furniture and a washer. My instinct told me I was in no condition to work in an office or at a store. I had to find work I could do at/from home, and so I started my furniture restoration and upholstery shop. Making my hobby my living!

We had a bonus room with an old stone floor, which was empty -like all the other rooms. The side door led to the driveway, which was perfect.

I went to the laptop and wrote the texts I wanted to publish later that night.

Hobby woodworker and hobby upholsterer would love to start her own business. I am looking for suitable projects: Older wood and wicker furniture and upholstered furniture! I do home decorative sewing! Until I am established and experienced enough, I will offer my service dirt cheap. I am the new kid in town! I am good, but not perfect! I promise I will do my best! Take advantage of me -workwise! Please call during the day!

Grab the bull by its horns and slap him on its behind!

The second ad was more complicated.

We just moved to Memphis from out of state. Our house is empty, we have not much left. It’s a long story which I am not willing to share with everybody, but I will explain it to you on the phone if you are interested. We are honest people. We have three big dogs, an air mattress, a camping table and a few other things. I am trying to find reasonable priced older furniture so we can fill our empty house. We need everything for the kitchen, the bedrooms, a living room and dining room. Please call me if you have older furniture you don’t longer need!

When my husband went to bed, I posted the ads on Craigslist. I had run the idea by him and he thought not much of it, but he also knew that there was no stopping me.

“Be careful,” he urged me, and I promised him I would be.

The phone rang the next day. A few people offered me furniture or just wanted to know our story, which I didn’t share when it didn’t feel right. Some gave me phone numbers of places that sold cheap furniture and I appreciated it. Others just called to wish us luck, some just wanted to insult and offend. How unhappy some people must be if the only thing they think of is to spread unhappiness even further?

A woman called, and she sounded nice. We talked for a long time on the phone; we seemed to click and I followed my instinct, listened to my gut, as I have so often in my life. I told her what had happened to us. I didn’t leave much out and explained how we had been able to make it to Memphis -and why. Her name was Susan, she wanted to know what we needed, where we lived, and she asked if she could come by and meet us and the dogs.

I didn’t hesitate and gave her our address. We had nothing that was worth stealing, besides the jewelry box, which we hid in the shed outside after we had found out that some of our doors didn’t lock all the way -something we would fix later, but we needed to buy some hardware first.

All my life I have found myself in strange situations, and often -not always- I showed trust that came out of nowhere, and I placed confidence in strangers that I could never explain. Susan was trustworthy. I felt it, I just knew it and there was not a doubt in my mind.

The next day, right around lunchtime, there was a knock at our door. I opened the front door and saw a woman with a big smile -a beautiful blonde lady in her early late 50s. I invited her in and we went straight to the kitchen. I showed her our dogs and the backyard, we went outside and talked for a while. Back inside, we went from room to room. She asked if she could open the cabinets in the kitchen, which puzzled me a bit, but I didn’t have a reason not to.

“You really don’t have much.” It wasn’t a question, but a statement.

She stayed for a while, asked questions about me, about the dogs, our relationship, our plans for the future. We liked each other, and it showed in the way we treated each other.

When she left, she told me she would call me soon.

Later on, I wondered why she had come by. She didn’t mention that she had any furniture for sale, neither had she asked more about the things we needed. Perhaps she just had come by to make a new friend. Maybe she was lonely?

Another lady called and offered us her old washer. “It doesn’t spin anymore all the way, but it still washes.” We picked it up in the evening, and she hadn’t been lying. It was the oldest washer I had ever seen in my life. Almost museums quality, not quite an antique, all banged up and rusty inside. We took it with us and I did laundry a couple times but went quickly back to washing our clothes in the sink.

That old washer could move, and it leaked. She had gotten rid of her trash nicely. A feeling I often had when people called, they tried to get stuff out of their homes and garages. Things that weren’t useful anymore and they couldn’t haul it by themselves

The rest of the first week in our new home went by so quickly and then it was the weekend again. We didn’t need to go shopping but visited a few garage sales. I found a side chair, with an upholstered back and an upholstered seat. The wood was beautiful; only the fabric was torn and worn. I paid $2 for the chair and $8 at Hancock’s for a home decor fabric remnant. I worked on it all Sunday long, in the evening it looked like new. For many years, I used the chair in my workroom, it was my pride and joy for a very long time.

Now we had two chairs!

We spent another $10 on small things we would need eventually. A corkscrew, Tupperware containers, a marble rolling pin, and a small cooler for my husband’s lunch.

In the evenings, after my husband had gone to bed, I always tried to go online, and whenever JULIE, the neighbor who gave me unknowingly free internet access came online, I searched for free stuff on Craigslist. I found a few things, but I was always too late.

Susan called on Tuesday. “We are coming by in the evening,” she said. She was at work and so I couldn’t ask too many questions.

After dinner, we played cards for a while. My husband accused me of cheating -again- because he will never learn to play Gin Rummy, then he went to bed at 8 pm. I did the dishes in the kitchen, let the dogs out, and sat down at our camping table with a book.

At 8:30 pm, I heard noises outside. It sounded like a big truck tried to park. I got up and peeked outside. I had to stand on my toes so I could reach the small window on the top of our front door.

A pick truck with a rather large horse trailer was trying to park in front of our house. The driver was giving his best but had to maneuver back and forth a few times, struggling to follow the commands of his wife, who stood on the sidewalk and signaled him where he had to go.

The woman was Susan and when I opened the front door; she told me they had brought some STUFF for us.

I woke my husband up, who wasn’t too happy about it, and a few minutes later we both went outside. Now the back of the horse trailer was open, they were pulling a ramp out. My husband met Susan, I met her husband, and they started unloading.

“Let’s get this all in the house.”

A full-size wood bed with mattress, an oversized chair with matching ottoman, an old plaid-covered recliner, a plant stand that had seen better days. A box full of stuff for the kitchen, a dining set for six, a wood mug holder, coffee mugs, glasses, silverware, pots, and pans. A small wastebasket for the bathroom. A large Tupperware container for cakes and pies. A futon with a mattress, a few pillows, a blanket, and one framed picture for the wall. “Every house needs a painting on the wall,” Susan laughed. A heavy old magazine rack, solid wood, which we would use a small table -two little doors on both sides allowed us to store things inside.

This all happened over ten years ago and I am certain I forget to list some things they brought us that night on their first trip. Over time, Susan and I became friends, and later on, much later, she admitted they had taken $200 of their money and had gone to garage and community sales for us.

Almost a year later, Susan told me about their lives, their struggles. Pain and suffering, goodness and honor, so much goes hand in hand. The rich, the wealthy, the fortunate cannot teach us that. Perhaps they are missing out?

None of the things they brought us that evening came out of their home or had belonged to them or their family.

Strangers had read our ad, and they wanted to help. They spent their money to help us.

How could I ever forget?

How could it not change me?

Yes, kindness can arrive at night. It’s often quiet, even when the truck and the horse trailer are loud.

Life writes the best stories and I happen to have lived a few -not always by choice. Our ‘story’ writes itself and it gives me the joy (and a bit of pain) of reliving some of it. So much seemed clearer now, so much doesn’t seem so bad anymore.

The category “Losing it all” is from start to finish the time in our lives between November 2009 to probably March 2012 or 2013. I will leave a few things out but not much.

Thank you for reading!

29 thoughts on “When Kindness Arrives At Night

  1. It is often those who have the least who give the most, and you’re right Bridget, we have become a negative society. People are more willing to add to others’ problems that they are to offer a little support; and often a kind word, or gentle encouragement can work wonders. The story of Susan and her husband really was heartwarming and serves to restore a little faith in humanity!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow what a wonderful thing Susan did for you! It’s so heartwarming to know there are people out there that really care and selflessly help others when they can! ♥ What a lovely installment of your journey and so good to read these positive things (and comments!). 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s rare indeed to come across people like Susan, and how wonderful for you, to gain a friend also.
    You write so beautifully I don’t know how to appreciate it. Not just the unfolding of events but also where to stop, leaving the reader on tenterhooks!
    Any books in the offing?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. What a wonderful example of selflessness. It is so much easier NOT to ask questions and to choose not to get involved, but it is true, those that are the most understanding of how it is to try to get by on next to nothing and to rebuild a life have experienced some level of loss themselves. They understand! I think that anyone who cannot be generous with those who have need must be incapable of feeling gratitude for what they have. And that’s a loss going in both directions!

    Liked by 2 people

    • You have such a wonderful way to put things in perspective and you connect the dots always the right way. 🙂
      I agree with you, NOT asking questions is easier and hoping someone else will get involved. I like the last sentence, indeed it is a loss in both directions. Very well put.


  5. This is so heartwarming. I do think there are many people who are willing to help when they know it is truly needed. Your story reminds me of our neighborhood Facebook group. We have some teachers and every once in a while, one of them will post for a student’s family. Our neighborhood response is always overwhelming. All is given anonymously. I think we have to remember goodness doesn’t brag, and the news focuses on the sensational. I’m anxious to hear what happens with your upholstery business.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I wish you would be right, but look around. Help is needed everywhere and most people only help within their own family, or go all in for groups they know. Strangers, real strangers very seldom get help by an individual. It’s our pack mentality. “If they help, I will too.” (And I am no exception.)

      Liked by 2 people

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