Thursday, July 10, 2008


I read a quote yesterday that really spoke to me.

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you
never know how soon it will be too late.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

I think the reason it struck such a chord with me is because it took me back to an occurrence several years ago. We had an elderly couple living next door to us - Carl and Dorothy. The sweetest people ... and so loving with each other. I loved seeing them interact with each other and hearing one talk about the other (when they were apart). They fussed over each other and worried about each other, and it was so sweet to watch.

They kept the house and yard neat as a pin and were wonderful neighbors. They both had health problems - Carl had breathing difficulties - some sort of lung issue, and Dorothy had cancer and diabetes. Much of the time that I knew her, she had no hair. However, she said the chemo was working, and she always had the best attitude and outlook. I enjoyed her company a lot.

They were on a fixed income (Social Security), without a lot of extra money. One evening, Dorothy asked me to take her to our neighborhood grocery store. It's only a couple miles from our house, and I was happy to do so. I picked up a couple things and Dorothy got what she needed, and as we were standing in the checkout line, she said, "I love the frozen biscuits they sell here so much. When we get our check I'm coming back and get some."

I had a fleeting thought to go and grab some of those biscuits and buy them for her. After all, they were only a few dollars. But ... I didn't want to offend her; I didn't want to embarrass her (or myself); and what's probably most true is ... I just wanted to get home.

I remember telling Steve later that night about that offhanded remark she had made and how I wish I had just gone and gotten the biscuits and not thought twice about it. In the days that followed though, life continued at its normal pace, and I forgot about it.

It wasn't more than a few weeks after that, and Dorothy was gone. She lost the battle with cancer, and it was a shock. I totally expected her to beat it. Within days, Carl had moved away - to his grown daughter's house in one of the suburbs of Memphis. Within a year, I attended his funeral as well.

Such a loss... I mourned the loss of our friends ... I hated losing such good neighbors ... but the overriding emotion I remember feeling was remorse. More than anything else, I wanted to go back to that night at the store. I wanted to be able to buy those biscuits for my sweet friend, Dorothy. I wanted to do that for her. Before her "next check" came, she was gone and her wish was unfulfilled.

And so, that's my story. That's why Emerson's quote made such an impression on me. Even though I have subconsciously tried to live by that philosophy, it was good to see it enunciated like that. And so my goal continues to be to live every day applying those words to my life.


Vikki said...

Aww Patty,
How many times has something simular happened to us all. We hesitated when we should have acted. I'm sorry for your lose, but very happy you were able to know such sweet kind people. It's not often where given the opportunity to enjoy such sweetness.
Hope your having a good week, have a wonderful weekend and find time to relax and enjoy it.... As you say, before the time passes.

Patty said...

Thanks, Vikki. Hope you're having a good weekend too, and that you're feeling better!

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