Tuesday, March 04, 2014

The Kindness of Strangers (Or, Tuesdays with Jackie)

I was talking with my 90-year-old neighbor during my regular Tuesday night visit with her. She went out to lunch today with some of her high school friends, and while she was out she ran into another old friend.

"He's a year older than me," she said. "For the first time, I saw that he actually looked older. He'd never seemed to be aging before." She went on to tell me how his wife has Alzheimer's. She'd never really thought about what that meant for him on a day-to-day basis, living with someone who doesn't remember who he is. He hired a woman to help his wife get dressed every morning and get ready for bed every night because, well, she doesn't remember him. He is a stranger to her.

My friend was struggling with this new insight and ached for her friend.

So I shared with her something I'd learned today: in two weeks one of my coworkers will be donating her kidney to another coworker. He's been in dialysis for nearly two years. About eight months ago she approached him with the idea, and it turned out she is a perfect match. Not a close family member, not a close friend, but a coworker. A relative stranger.

What people do for others they barely know. What people do for those they love who don't remember them at all.

It's astounding.

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