oday I write about, “being called upon.” You know, those situations when you have an opportunity to do GOOD in this world.
One day I took a drive to the San Fernando Valley to see my mother-in-law. She had various and sundry things to give me and I knew she would be happy for me to make a visit. I had made a special plan to take the day off so I would not be rushed. I wanted to spend time with her and to go over the oodles of things she had waited for me to come and get.
On this particular day I had a Supertramp moment…instead of taking the long way home, I took the long way there. I needed time to reflect, I needed to “perhaps do some healing work of my own.” I drove to each of the houses where I had grown up. I stopped and looked at them. If you count my parents’ divorce, then due to the split family I had three houses to look at. I’m not sure what compelled me to do this. I really don’t have any issues that I carry with me on a daily basis, but perhaps I was longing for some sort of answer as to why some of the harder parts of my childhood were coming back in my thoughts.
I went to the first house we lived in when we had moved to California, my father and mother, my sister and brother. We had rented it until my parents found one to buy. Funny how everything looks different from what you remember it. That house was the one we lived in during the Sylmar earthquake. My dad basically had to pole vault to get us from the upstairs because the staircase had separated from the wall. Needless to say, from then on, we lived in one-story houses.
I drove to my mother’s old house, where I spent the better part of growing up, where my dad lived briefly until he and my mother got divorced. I was 11, my sister 8, my brother 5. I have many memories from those years. The neighborhood hadn’t really changed, and it was the time in Northridge where half an acre was the norm for your house to be on, where basically every summer day was a day spent with friends because everyone had a pool. I was impressed at how the new owners revamped it, subtle changes, and even keeping the huge oleander bushes that we used to hide behind.
Then I drove by my father and stepmother’s first house. It looked the same — half-court basketball court still in the backyard, the pool where we swam and played Marco Polo had nary a change. I parked my car and climbed the hill above the golf course. I was determined to find something from a very long time ago. Ah, there it was. I basked in the delight that my initials and those of the cute boy who lived next door were still in the tree where we had carved them. OK, I was 13, and even though it didn’t exactly say JC + GL 4ever, it said JC and GL, at least we had both put our initials on the same tree. Oh, c’mon, even at 13, a girl can dream, can’t she?
After having spent most of my morning driving down memory lane, taking photographs of where I had lived, around noon I decided I should get over to my mother-in-law’s house so I could make it back later without sitting in traffic.
I turned onto a street I literally had not taken in years. I stopped at the light and watched as an elderly man tried to make it safely through the crosswalk before the light would change. I was the fourth car with three cars ahead of me waiting at the red light. I watched the crosswalk count down, 11, 10, nine, eight seconds to go. He looked around, our eyes met, and I noticed he was carrying a McDonald’s bag. He started to walk to my car and motioned me to roll my window down. I did and he asked me: “Would you please give me a ride; I am so tired.”
I wasn’t afraid at all. I looked at him, he was hunched over as if he had been walking around a long time. I said, “Of course, where do you need to go?”
He said, “I live down the street.”
He got in my car and I told him to please put his seat belt on and to direct me where to go.
As we drove, we chatted and he told me that even though he was so tired, he had wanted to walk to McDonald’s (which at this time was at least a mile and a half away) that he was so hungry and wanted a burger and some fries (incidentally they smelled so good and he even offered me some, but I politely said, “No, thank you.”). After about 10 minutes he motioned me to turn right and we drove down a street and I said, “Are you sure you are OK? Do you have family here?”
He said, “Yes.”
I parked in the front of his house and he got out, took his McDonald’s bag and pulled out his wallet to pay me. I said, “Oh no, I couldn’t possibly take your money.” I told him that it had been my pleasure to take him home and may God bless him and keep him safe from harm. He thanked me and walked up to the front door. As he opened it, I could see a young teenager holding the door open. I waved, the man waved, the teenager looked bewildered, but I just smiled. I knew that, somehow, I had been picked to take care of this man.
I continued on my day, with a little bounce in my step, knowing that in the scheme of the “greater good” we are called upon when needed. I knew he meant no harm; I knew that out of every single person sitting at that stoplight he had been GUIDED to me. It helps me to think of these small moments of genuine kindness. Kindness is good and kindness is quite necessary! Be kind to each other, you never know when you’ll be called upon to do GOOD for your fellow man.
I started this article with the title: “The Seeds of a Good Deed,” and I end with this question: “What seeds can you plant today?” Because remember, the seeds of a good deed become a “Tree of Life.”
Jennifer Danny is a writer and author of the book: “Angels in the Clouds©.” She can be reached at: [email protected].