Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

An Act of Kindness

It was 8 am, and when I touched the handle it fell on top of me, narrowly missing the Intrepid Junior Blogger and instead connecting with my head with a solid thump. I struggled to support the weight, stunned at what had just happened. It was my yard gate, a beast weighing more than I can imagine, and it had fallen completely off one hinge, and was dangling by the other.

I almost began to cry, which probably seems absurd as things are broken and damaged all the time, but on occasion things seem overwhelming, which it did that morning. I was simply grateful the gate had fallen on me and not the IJB. I struggled to push it upright and left it propped against my fence, already late in getting my day going.

That broken gate ate at me all day. I realize it seems like a molehill but sometimes the "molehills" add together and become a mountain, and so it was that day. The broken gate served to magnify all the other things I haven't done and needed to do, all the things that were broken and needed fixing, all the chores at work and home that were crying out for attention...I was, for the very first time in my new house, dreading going home. I posted about it on Facebook and Twitter, lamenting a day that began with a gate falling on top of you.

I drove home in the dark, and as I pulled into my driveway my headlights shone upon the gate, which was closed. How odd, I thought, as I had most certainly not closed it and the way it had broken meant it couldn't be closed. The IJB had beaten me home and she certainly could not have closed it this way in the state it was in.

I turned off my car and walked up to the gate in disbelief. I ran my gloved hand across the hinges, now securely bolted to the fence post. I swung it open, and it opened lightly and easily, far easier than before as the gate had begun to scrape a bit and I had known it needed attention.

And I began to cry.

I flew into the house and asked the IJB if the gate was fixed when she got home. She said it was and commented on how quickly I had arranged it, and her eyes grew big when I told her it wasn't me. I have rarely seen her smile as she did that evening, but her smile was huge and her eyes delighted as we marveled at the now-perfect gate.

She put on her coat and shoes and we went outside again, to swing the gate open and examine the bolts. She asked who fixed it and I told her I didn't know, had no idea, and so we went inside where I began sending messages.

Did you fix the gate, I asked various friends. And the answer was always the same. Not them, they said, suggesting it was a Christmas miracle or good karma coming back to me or just someone who knew I needed some help and gave it. But no one, not one person, would admit it was them.

You see I have no idea who fixed the gate. There is a conspiracy of silence on this one, and no one will take credit. I get a lot of smiles when I bring it up but not one single soul will admit it was them. And perhaps that is the beauty of this all. It was an act of kindness done without expectation of thank you or reward, and I am so profoundly grateful - and humbled.

So this is my public thank you to whatever kind person knew that a broken gate can sometimes be far more than a broken gate. When I drove up to my house that night my faith, which was a bit bruised, was restored. All the other challenges I face melted away as I saw that in such a small act of kindness is proof of a community that looks out for each other, even if it means just fixing a broken gate. That simple act of kindness reminded me that we are not alone, and that all we need to do is take care of each other, just as some kind soul took care of the IJB and I that day.

I am waiting for the opportunity to pay this forward, and one day my chance will arise. And I will do so quietly and without fanfare, so someone has the feeling I had that night, driving home to find an act of kindness, just waiting to be discovered.

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