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The Kindness of Strangers

stranger-in-red-coat

Stranger in a red coat

A stranger in a bright red raincoat came up from behind me as I plodded across the busy intersection as fast as I could, but not fast enough — the light had already changed to red. ‘I’ll walk beside you’ she said, ‘They won’t want to hit both of us.’

My knee is mad at me so I use a walker. It helps, not only with my angry old-lady-with-walkerknee, but also with my old balance disorder, which has caused many falls through the years. (That’s why my knee is so upset.) The woman realized I was having a difficult time and decided to help a stranger. Why?

In my neighborhood, many shops have handicapped door operators which you push to open the door. Still, passersby who don’t realize that often stop on their way to pull a door open for me. My favorite morning breakfast stop has one, which occasionally isn’t operative yet if I arrive early. (The activator is above the door — I think the staff can’t reach it.) A favorite, tall fellow patron, Greg, will get up and switch it on if he sees me coming. Nice….but why?

door-operator

Handicapped Door operator

The other morning, Greg noticed my walker wheels were caked with what he thought was dog poop. He warned me about it, but I continued reading. I’m such a passionate reader, I didn’t even notice when he and his pal Garth wheeled my walker out the door, cleaned it so I wouldn’t have to deal with it later, and brought it back in. (I’m hoping they were wrong, that what they cleaned was actually ground up wet brown leaves which gather at the sidewalk cuts I have to use.) Why did they bother?

bus-driver

Bus drivers deal with some abusive riders

I regularly attend exercise classes at a community centre. I no longer drive. I use transit. How do bus drivers in this busy city who deal with mentally ill and abusive riders plus crazy traffic manage to stay so considerate? They wait until I’m seated before starting the bus. They patiently wait again for me to painfully rise and slowly back off the vehicle with my walker. (It was a bus driver who taught me that it’s the safest way to leave.)

This week I told a driver I wish I could sit on my walker on the bus. It’s higher and less painful to rise from. At my stop, she urged me to take the time to place it in a particular spot, set the brakes, and see if it would work. Not wanting to make her late, (they are on schedules) I told her I’d try it next time I rode a bus. Hey, it works. I hope I see her again so I can thank her. I’ve since used her idea twice. Why did an absolute stranger do this?

Then, the volunteer who sells coffee once a week at the center carries my coffee to a nearby table for me. It’s difficult for me to manage that and the walker — multitasking was never my thing. He says he’s not allowed to accept tips, I never ask him to do it, but he does it anyway. Why?

What makes so many strangers so kind? For one, I believe most people are inherently good. I also know that when I am kind to others, it gives ME a warm fuzzy. So it goes…..we give, we get. I am ever grateful to my wonderful caring family, to my friends, and especially those many strangers who are there for me. Warm hugs to you all!

chandra

My son’s beautiful wife Chandra who worked so very hard to plan a special 80th birthday party for me. She succeeded.

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Coffee? An elixir of love?

Mom, thinking 2

photo by Susan Kauffmann

Recently, another report on coffee was published in the American Journal of Cardiology. Researchers at the Sheba Medical Center in Israel reported on the benefits of drinking same. Coffee, they suggested, can prevent heart attacks and improve your circulatory system and then some…. I’ve also read coffee can help prevent type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s and liver disease…. Is this all true?

I know for sure that if you have a hiatus hernia (GERD) coffee can give you heartburn. It did when I, myself, suffered with this very common condition. I refused to give it up. I’m stubborn and am addicted to coffee and often had heartburn as a result.

comic old lady

Vertigo, yuk.

Some members of the B.C. Balance and Dizziness Disorders Society (BADD), who have vestibular disorders, believe avoiding coffee helps prevent vertigo. Is this really so? I haven’t a clue, but there’s no way I’d argue with anyone who believes they’ve found something to help avoid what is a most unpleasant condition.

old man woman coffee

Chatting about coffee

The other morning, I ran into Murray at the coffee shop. We talked about the recent report on coffee — he’d heard about it on CBC radio. I expressed my doubts about all these reports.

‘Remember the one about oat bran,’ I suggested, ‘It was supposed to cure all your ills. Then the one which claimed men over 60 who drank coffee were more active sexually.’ (Maybe improved circulation????)

Oh, oh. I had unwittingly touched on a subject Murray and I had never discussed before. I was regretting I’d blurted out that particular study, goodness knows there have been so many conflicting reports about so many things I could easily have chosen another. Well, it was too late now.

‘Coffee???’ Murray said, ‘How?’

‘Ahem, well, yes,’ I cleared my throat, ‘Uh, coffee, it appears, uh, yup, it, uh, according to the study, it affects the….libido.’

‘Coffee, you say?’ Murray was incredulous.

Old man with coffee

Coffee you say???

‘Yes,’ I responded, trying to sound clinical and matter-of-fact. I read it in the medical section of the L.A. Times a while ago. However I don’t know that it’s really true — maybe yes and maybe no.’

‘It was in the paper?’

‘Yup. In the Times.’

‘Well, I’ll be,’ he mumbled, ‘My doctor told me to lay off coffee…’

Doctor 2

Murray, don’t drink coffee

‘Oh, I’d listen to your doctor if I were you,’ I advised, ‘He probably had a good reason. You can’t believe everything…..’

‘But it was in the paper — in black and white!’

‘What does that mean? That it comes from God? Since when does being in the paper mean something is true?’

Murray wasn’t listening, his mind was no longer on what I was saying. He was thinking out loud.

‘That doctor. I had a funny feeling about him. I thought something was strange. I knew that guy didn’t like me. I just couldn’t put my finger on it.’ He thought for a moment longer. ‘He’s jealous of me. That’s it. He’s jealous — that SOB.’

‘Don’t be ridiculous Murray, why would your doctor be jealous of you?’ I meant well, but it wasn’t my day. I’d obviously made another mistake.

‘Why? Why?’ Murray was furious, ‘Why would he be jealous? Ha! A lot you know!’

Birds

What was it Murray couldn’t tell me?

Suddenly he calmed down and added mysteriously, ‘I can’t tell you…but I’m switching doctors.’

Hmmm. What do you make of that?