Monday, May 27, 2013

A Friend's Kindness in Paris


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.
         

38 comments:

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    1. Dear Fishducky, indeed she was and is. Peace.

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  2. What a fine story, and a kindness indeed. I look forward to hearing all these random acts of kindness and how they have changed your life. :-)

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    1. Dear DJan, I posted the second story today--Tuesday. Paullene, whom you met on the European trip that was the scene for Monday's story, is kindness personified in today's posting. Peace.

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  3. A great kindness story indeed, people can surely surprise.

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    1. Dear Pat, one of the wonders of aging is discovering again and again and yet again just how surprising people can be. Peace.

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  4. I am sure that even though she missed seeing Versailles, Evelyn knew that taking care of a friend was much more important than seeing the palace. That's what friends are for, that is what is more important in life. It is probably a decision she never regretted making.

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    1. Dear Arleen, you know I think you're right. I don't think Evelyn ever regretted her decision to help me. She is a woman who lives in the present. And she's always present to her friends. Peace.

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  5. What a special person to give up a life dream to help a friend. I love the idea of random acts of kindness. I wish all news broadcasts started each day telling of at least one. Wouldn't that be refreshing?? Let the young see that it is not just the bad actions that get attention.

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    1. Dear Arkansas Patti, I so agree that starting every newscast with a story about kindness would be refreshing. It might help us also move away from the attention we give to greed and power. Peace.

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  6. She is kindness personified. I'm so glad she was with you when you were injured, and then helped you with such good nature. This was a perfect story for this bloghop. I can't wait to hear the rest of your posts this week!

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    1. Dear Shelly, I've now posted my Tuesday's story. You'll get to know Paullene better and see what a wonderful friend she was to me. Peace.

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  7. Evelyn really was a very special person. She went above and beyond in order to help you---and she was selfless in her actions. There are not many people like Evelyn I don't think. I don't know where she is now, but God Bless and people like her.

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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    1. Dear Betsy, Evelyn truly was selfless in her actions and she has remained that way through all these years. Peace.

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  8. What a truly good person, and you write about her so beautifully, as you always do. What a gift you have.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Dear Janie, the gifts I have are ones that others--teachers, family members, friends--have helped me discover and use. I am so grateful for that.

      And Janie, I so enjoyed your random act of kindness posting about Elisa. Peace.

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  9. Oh Dee. This is beautiful, and has brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful person to welcome into your life and I am so very glad that you were able to get past your first impressions and discover the wonderful person she was.

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    1. Dear EC, I was such a prude as a young person in the sense that in our home Mom never let anyone use anything stronger than "Drat!" So the common "four-letter-words" really knocked me for a loop and I made judgments about the people who used them. Thank heavens I met people like Evelyn who helped me look beyond my biases. Peace.

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  10. What a wonderful act of kindness. To have to let go of something you really wanted to care for a friend is amazing. The world needs more such angels. :)

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    1. Dear Bames Pabla, thanks for stopping by on this special day. Evelyn was indeed an angel to me on that trip. Peace.

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  11. It always amazes me a woman's decision to stay home than go on adventure. I'm glad you spent your vaca with great women!

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    1. Dear Fida Islaih, I was so blessed to be able to have an adventure with these two women who so enjoyed life.

      Thank you for stopping by. Peace.

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  12. Wonderful memory of an extraordinary kindness. Truly an angel moment. :)

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    1. Dear Rita, yes, a wonderful memory that warms my heart whenever I think of it. Peace.

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  13. You are right, Dee, that is a kindness almost beyond words. To give up her own dearest wish to help a friend is not something many will do.
    I hope you have been able to make it up to her.

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    1. Dear Friko, I'm not sure I ever did make it up to her because I moved to Minnesota and she stayed in Ohio and we seldom met after that. We did, however, continue to exchange Christmas cards and to wish each other blessed new years. Peace.

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  14. What a wonderful mental image of Evelyn washing your poor foot, and seeing how the woman washed Christ's feet with her tears.
    Lovely.

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    1. Dear Susan, that image came spontaneously to mind as she wound the bandage around my foot and ankle. She is, for me, a symbol of all that is good in humanity. Peace.

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  15. The sum of all the kindnesses~ received & given~of a life. I hope you received a lot, because I am sure you gave a lot.

    She sounds wonderful. ~Mary

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    1. Dear Mary, there seems to me to be a circle of kindness that has surrounded me all my life. The "coming upon angels unaware." And if I have been one of those angels for someone than I am grateful for the grace that holds each of us as One. Peace.

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  16. She does sound like such a lovely woman and a good friend

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    1. Dear Jo-Anne, Evelyn possessed a selflessness that blessed the lives of everyone she met. Peace.

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  17. Oh yes, Dee! What a very kind and selfless act. I'd like to think I'd do the same for a friend, but I honestly don't know that I would. Coming all the way to Europe and missing out on something she'd longed to see...a lifelong friend, that's for sure. This story stands as a reminder of the true meaning of friendship and encourages me to think more selflessly, too. I am really going to enjoy your other stories of friendship. :-) Debra (breathelighter)

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    1. Dear Debra, I'm glad you plan to read the other stories I hope to tell. When I was planning to join the blogfest, I thought of so many stories of kindness sprinkled through my life, really not sprinkled, but pressed down and overflowing. So I decided to pick five from before I was 40 to write about--five from different places and people. And I'm quite sure that you are selfless in your relationships. Peace.

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  18. I'm very busy at the moment, Dee, but I just had to comment ion this beautiful story of a truly selfless act. What a friend!

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    1. Dear Perpetua, thanks so much for taking time out of your busy day to read this posting and leave a comment. Evelyn truly was and is selfless. Peace.

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  19. That was so kind of Evelyn. I bet you all had so much fun traveling together :)

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    1. Dear Elisa, we had, as they say, "A blast!!!!" Peace.

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