Acts of Kindness Part 1

23 11 2011

“You can have it, if you’d like it,” the old woman said to the young girl, sensing the fear and nerves of the child, who had never lived anywhere else in her 5 short years of life.  There was something special about this antiquated stuffed turtle that was over 50 years old. Perhaps, it was a physical item of transference, a thing she could hold onto in the upcoming uncertainty of her life. Looking at her parents for approval to accept the offer, the 6-year-old lavished thanks on the two older women, and held on to that turtle for a very long time.

The House of Turtle

The house where I found "Turtle"

We are all the recipients of acts of kindness each day. Some acts of kindness are remembered more than others because of emotions attached to them, or you were having a bad day in your life, or perhaps you felt you just didn’t deserve it. Most kindnesses eventually fade away in the stream of consciousness as it is impossible to remember all of them all (unless you’ve written them down). The big ones you never forget. Like my turtle.

The next big kindness I remember was being asked to go on a family trip with my friends Kelly and Kitchel. They were close in age and I would wind up doing things with one for awhile and then the other. Their family became a refuge from my dysfunctional, abusive home and I loved spending time there. I learned about refried beans and real butter. Their mother, a nurse, used IV needles and ice cubes to pierce my ears. When I was asked to go on their family trip to Kansas, I was ecstatic. But the kindnesses did not cease coming from them.

Hilda in Kansas

Me on the Kansas trip

My mother’s sister and her husband took me in when my mother kicked me out age the age of 13. However, I was there for only 2 weeks. My mother wished for me to return home. My aunt and uncle sat me down and said, “If you want to stay, we will fight for you to stay, but if you return home, you won’t be able to come back.” I made a bad choice and left.

After I was told to leave my home again 6 months later, with whatever I possessed from things that were gifts or things I had bought myself, my sister, on a break from college, was staying with her college friend and her family in the Bronx for the summer. They also provided me shelter until my sister could work things out about where I would go. Their apartment was not big; they were not rich, but their hearts were. Somewhere in there (I forget the timing of all this), my sister brought me upstate New York to my father’s brother’s house. My two of four cousins still remained at home. They welcomed me into their home. For me it was only temporary because the place where my heart felt like home was with Kelly and Kitchel’s family who had moved from Nebraska to Missouri. They were having family meetings to discuss the impact on having me there. But in the meantime, my aunt, uncle and cousins were glad to have me.

The decision was a positive one for me with my friends’ family and I soon moved to Missouri. It lasted from September until December. Plans were being made by my sister once again to file child abandonment charges against my mother to get me into a foster home in New York (close to her where she was going to school). Things didn’t work out with my friends as we had hoped for a variety of reasons—them lacking any legal authority as “parents”, the financial help my father promised, the arguments I was getting into with one of the two girls. I had to leave. When my mother discovered I was there, my departure protected them from being charged with harboring a runaway (I did not runaway, but my mother was upset that she was told off about her less-than-wonderful parenting ability). When I boarded the plane to New York to my sister, the police showed up at my friends’ home. Fortunately, I was not there. I always look back on this has a huge kindness. They could have easily said no given the headache involved with it, but they did not.

The next kindness rates into a category all of its own and will be continued tomorrow in part 2.


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