When I was a younger woman, I lived in France as a missionary. Service had always been a part of my life, and when the opportunity to serve in a foreign land came my way, I decided to answer the call. Missions are very well organized entities, and there is a presiding individual over each area known as the mission president. The mission president in the area that I served was a wise man. During the peak of the rainy season, he spoke to the missionaries at a conference in Cannes Sur Mer. He challenged each of us (missionaries) to render a Christian act of service each day, to anyone we felt inspired to serve. I believe the politically correct term in today’s slang is “A Random Act of Kindness,” however, in my capacity as a missionary, I served my Savior, so it was indeed not a random act, it was a Christian act.
This past week, I received a phone call from a very distraught woman. She had just lost her daughter to an unexpected death, caused through complications from a recent surgery. Her daughter had been transported to a funeral home that the mother had not selected. She was confused and not very happy about her daughter’s location. I assured her that I could right the situation and that I would immediately travel across town, and bring her daughter to my facility. Just then, the mother said something that I had not expected. “My daughter was very specific before she died and stated that she only wanted you to handle her body. You took care of her daddy a few years ago, and you were so kind to her that she has insisted since that time, that you, and only you, were to handle her services whenever her time came.”
Wow, that is an amazing thing to hear. Our conversation concluded, and I began receiving phone calls from the decedent’s cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends, restating their loved ones wish that I handle her final disposition. It was unique that she had been so definitive about her services at such a young age, and that she had shared her wishes with so many people. Each one of them, one by one, thanked me for my generosity and kindness to their loved one upon her father’s death. She had ensured that they each knew of her experience and her final wishes.
The week progressed; the day for her memorial arrived. As the commencement time approached, her mother, cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends, sought me out and thanked me again for taking care of her, for having been so kind to her during her father’s death, and for being there for them as they experienced this unexpected loss. She had told them that I would help them through their loss as I had helped her through her dad’s loss, and that knowing they would be taken care of, offered her peace in passing.
It is difficult for me this morning to share this story. I can barely type the words. Her insistence on and faith in my care is very humbling. I do not know exactly what I did to deserve such praise and such loyalty. I wish I could remember what I said to her, what I did that prompted her to prepare for her death so far in advance, and what brought her such comfort that she would place her bereaved mother and family in my care.
I have a secret that breaks my heart to share with you. I cannot remember anything noteworthy that I might have done to help my client upon the death of her father. I feel guilty that I cannot remember anything special that I might have done to help her through her painful loss. I feel that with such a loyal testament from her, I should remember every detail of kindness, every action of service, and every ounce of pain that she suffered. It seems that I surpassed her measure of expectation, yet, I cannot remember doing anything out of the ordinary.
I share this story with you for one reason. It is the same reason that my mission president challenged his missionaries to perform a Christian act of service every day. The world can be a harsh place and being kind to others costs you nothing. It is a gift that can change the world, and from where I sit, the world could use a little changing.
Kindness like a boomerang always returns.
My client’s mother, aunts, uncles, and friends, think that I changed her life one day by being kind to her when she needed a kind person on the worst day life offers us. In reality, my client changed my life. From her grave she has taught me that kindness, although it costs nothing, is my greatest gift to give – it is yours too.