In this blog, former Headteacher and life coach Matt Dechaine shares that in the midst of life’s challenges and unexpected turns, the kindness of strangers often shines the brightest.
2022 didn’t end well for us as a family, and 2023 didn’t start well either. In December 2022, my dad sadly passed away after contracting the flu. This naturally meant Christmas was extremely challenging and passed me by in a bit of a blur. As a result of the Christmas break, the funeral was delayed until January.
The funeral was what we hoped it would be and was a celebration of my dad’s life and marking its end. As with most families, this was a moment to take stock and move forward together.
My mum had other ideas and tripped up a kerb and broke her femur extremely badly on her way back from a dental appointment a couple of weeks later. The first I knew of this was a call from my brother, whom the paramedics had contacted, and I met them at the hospital. My mum needed significant treatment, including an operation to have a rod fitted in her leg. Thankfully, she continues to heal well.
The reason I’m writing this is to do with the accident itself. My mum was on her own as she has always been fiercely independent and, until the accident, had no trouble doing things independently. Hearing about an accident involving your elderly mum brings feelings of guilt, amongst others.
When my mum tripped, she fell at the feet of a builder. She has since described him as a ‘hunky builder!’ My mum is 79. Rather than walk away, he helped my mum into a comfortable position and called other people for help. A couple walking past saw what was happening. Again, rather than walking away and carrying on with their day, one called the ambulance whilst the other went into the dentist’s to get some blankets to keep my mum warm. The dental hygienist came out with more blankets and sat with her until the ambulance arrived, which thankfully wasn’t long.
My mum has also said that, more recently, people have helped her when they have seen her out and about walking with her frame or sticks. People have checked in with her to see how she’s doing and if she needs assistance and is patient with her when she’s walking slowly.
I know there have been times when I probably haven’t been patient enough with others. In a rush to be somewhere or busy doing things which seem important. Not enough time to show some kindness. Would I have stopped to help if this had been someone else’s mum and I’d been walking past? I want to think so and am sure I would have done it. Would this have been easier if I had nothing to do than if I was going to an appointment or meeting? However, meetings and appointments can and should be moved when others are in need. Knowing that help will come is an important part of human existence, in my opinion.
I’m hugely grateful to those people who helped my mum that day. For me, their kindness had no limits. I didn’t meet any of them, so I was unable thank them. I was able to send the dental hygienist some flowers, but I am thankful to those who stopped and helped another person in distress rather than carrying on about their day.
Since then, I’ve tried to be better. Offering assistance and being patient. I used to get irritated by people speaking to supermarket cashiers at length when I was in a queue; I now know this could be the only person they have talked to all day. I’ll continue to work on this. We can all show more kindness to those we encounter daily; the small things make a difference.
The kindness of strangers truly is a powerful and magical thing.
Conclusion: “Finding Hope and Kindness in Unexpected Places.”
As I reflect on my family’s challenges, I am grateful for the kindness we’ve encountered along the way. These experiences have reinforced my belief that, in the end, it’s the connections we make and the compassion we extend that truly define our shared human experience. The kindness of strangers is indeed a powerful and magical force, one that has the potential to heal hearts, bridge divides, and remind us all of the beauty that exists in the world, even in the most challenging times.
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