All this week I’ll be posting stories about acts of kindness that have been unexpected and life-enhancing gifts to me during my lifetime. Between now and Friday, you’ll meet Evelyn Sweeney, Paullene Caraher, the nuns of Mount Saint Scholastica, Marge Tansley, and Sister Madonna. Their unexpected acts of kindness enriched my life and in one instance actually changed it.
I’m offering these stories to you as part of the Wayman Publishing blogfest that continues from today through Friday. Wayman is offering a number of its book as free gifts to you. Other books are offered at a greatly reduced press. Both of Dulcy’s e-books—A Cat’s Life and A Cat’s Legacy—are available.
Almost seventy other bloggers are participating in this celebration of random acts of kindness. If you’d like to read other stories of how we gently touch one another’s lives, please click here to find information on the other bloggers and their postings.
I’ll begin my group of kindness stories with Evelyn Sweeney. I met her in 1967, a few months after leaving the convent. We became good friends, despite my initial wariness around her. In a 2012 posting I explained my prejudice and used a pseudonym for Evelyn. She is the “Jeanne” in my story about the Vietnam War protest.
That story took place in Dayton, Ohio, in 1967. Today’s story takes place in Edinburgh and Paris in 1976.
In that year, Evelyn and myself, along with Paullene, whom you’ll meet again tomorrow, flew to Amsterdam and visited Holland, England, Scotland, and Paris.
Evelyn to the left as the two of us stand by an Amsterdam canal.
Toward the end of our four-week trip, I raced toward an Edinburgh bus, stumbled, and twisted my right ankle, banging it against the cobblestones. Hurrying to catch the London-bound train, I simply ignored the pain.
By the time we’d traveled to London, boarded the train to Dover, crossed the channel on the night ferry, and traveled from Dunkirk to Paris, my ankle looked like a baby elephant’s front right leg. As the skin reddened, pain throbbed mercilessly.
From the first days of our arrival in Europe, Paullene and Evelyn had talked about visiting Versailles. For them, the palace was to be the highlight of our adventure. That first morning in Paris, I’d already relinquished my highlight—seeing the statue of the Winged Victory of Samothrace at the Louvre museum.
The second-century BCE marble sculpture
of the Greek goddess Nike (Victory).
As I opened my mouth to wish my two friends a wonderful day, I heard Evelyn speak these words: “Paullene, I’m staying with Dee. I’ve got to get her something for pain. You visit Versailles for the two of us.”
Her words—So solicitous. So selfless. So generous.—brought tears to my eyes. I wept for the sheer unexpectedness of such kindness.
Evelyn and Paullene left together, one to board the bus for Versailles and the other to find a pharmacy. Soon Evelyn returned with an Ace bandage and pain pills. She knelt, rubbing lotion on my swollen ankle. As she gently wound the bandage round my foot and leg, I saw clearly the woman washing Yeshua’s feet with her tears, wiping them with her hair, anointing them with the finest perfume.
Evelyn never got to visit Versailles. Yet she cheerfully found a cane for me and helped me totter the few blocks to the Louvre. There, I gazed at the Winged Victory. My heart soared with wonder at its beauty. But even that wonder was as ash next to the everlasting flame of kindness that dwelt within Evelyn’s being. She was—she is—a blessing in my life.