On Februrary 14th I took the twins to get their hair cut. Evelyn’s hair was damaged at the end of her chemo treatment, but was finally growing out, so Mike and I wanted them to have the same length of hair. That is, we wanted our identical girls to look the same again. There’s a whole blog post about hair and cancer and appearance and psychology and twins, but I’ll try to stay on track.
We’re at the local haircut place and it’s around dinner time. I’m flipping through a magazine and there’s one man sitting in a chair and another one comes in later. ‘Cause it’s VALENTINE’S DAY and most people are doing heart-y type things. My husband is on his way to Philadelphia to pick up our friend Izzy. Anyway, the television is on and I’m aware of the evening news talking about Sandy Hook and 26 Days of Random Acts of Kindness. But, I’m not really paying attention because Evelyn’s hair is finished (her hair is much thinner than Sylvia’s) and she’s climbing on my lap, concerned about the post-haircut dum dum pop sitting in a cansister by the register. The bell tinkles over the door as one of the men leaves.
I dig out my wallet and the girl comes over to me, tears in her eyes, and says, “That man just paid for your daughter’s haircut.” I blink, because that’s not what I was expecting her to say, and then run for the door. Dude is driving away in his truck and I yell out, “Thank you.” It’s dark out and all I see is his profile as he gives me a wave. I know I’m a writer and supposed to be observant, but I can’t tell you what he looks like or if I’ve driven past him since then.
So, I come back to the register to pay for Sylvia and the girl tells me, “No, you don’t understand, he paid for both the girls.”
Well, now I’m just confused. There’s no way he could know about Evelyn’s cancer or what these haircuts were supposed to represent. Did he feel bad for a mom in a haircut place on Valentine’s Day? Was he moved by the news program reporting on random acts of kindness? Was it a Christmas elf from the Polar Express? I DON’T KNOW. The girls in the shop were all talking about it. I came home and posted on FB about the whole thing because I was so touched by the unexpected generosity of a stranger.
But, I knew I had to pay it forward. So, I put “random act of kindess” on my weekly to-do list. The next morning I went to WaWa for coffee. I called my husband and asked if I could buy him a cup. That counts, I thought. But, he was actually cutting down on his caffeine and today wasn’t his coffee day. Okay, I said. But now he wanted coffee. Effectively, I’d sabotaged his healthy plan. Ooops.
Inside the WaWa I had no cash so I paid for two cups of coffee with a credit card. After I turned away, I had a brainstorm. “I’ll pay for his stuff,” I said to the cashier and man behind me in line. Too late. Cashier was already making change and the man said he didn’t want to wait to void the transaction. Okay, I’ll catch the next person. So I lurked by the register until I noticed that patrons were actually AVOIDING my line. I was freaking out the people at the WaWa.
Next day my Little Mommy comes over. She really is little — my son is just about her height. I make lunch and we sit down to talk about nothing and everything. The twins are behaving wonderfully. “This is a lovely soup,” she says and I’m proud. “Lentil,” I say. She gets to the end and has a funny look on her face. “Is this…bacon,” she asks. “Yup, my secret ingredient.” She nods. “It’s just that… I gave up meat for Lent.” Crap, I think. “Sorry,” I say.
Then I have to run over to the local hospital. Parking is free for the first 90 minutes. As I’m getting ready to leave, I think, I WILL pay for parking for the person behind me. I’m getting this be-nice-thing marked off if it kills me. But, how do you pay for someone else if you don’t have their parking ticket? In fact, I look at my watch, how do I pay for myself if it’s over 90 minutes because I STILL HAVEN’T BEEN TO THE BANK AND HAVE NO CASH. I’m panicking in the elevator. I see a sign for a cafe on the first floor. Maybe I could give them my credit card and they could give me cash. Maybe, worst case, I could dash in and take a tip from a table. (This shows you the breakdown of my thought process. I’d gone from trying to pay for someone else to stealing tips and driving through the blockade if necessary.) Check my watch again and book it to my car. I had about two minutes left of free parking and I zipped through the garage and out. I went to the bank next.
Please imagine my relief when, the next day at preschool, Mrs. Amber tells me that The Goddard School was running a pj drive for Casey Cares. Yes, I said breathlessly, please let me help. I’ll do anything to help.
Here was an opportunity for me to write a letter of testimony about how Casey Cares had helped while Evelyn was undergoing treatment (I posted it on here last month). No one was hurt by my letter. I didn’t have to steal any tips, I just had to join a project that was already in motion instead of trying to mark something off a list.
572 pairs of new pajamas for children stuck in the hospital needing some encouragement, needing some distraction, needing to know that althought they are in isolation, they are NOT alone or forgotten. 572. Wow!
Mrs. Amber and I drove down to the Casey Cares office with Sylvia and Evelyn and met with Dawn Weissman, other staff members, and some other Goddard School owners. Then Dawn gave the twins each a bunny pillow pet and and a blue elephant to Blake, the little boy in the upper picture.
What a difference between serving to mark something off a list and serving because you sincerely want to help other people.