At the risk of being all sentimental and mushy, can I confess I’ve spend the better part of the past week blubbing like a big baby because I’ve seen such goodness and kindness in people? Such strange times when I don’t know what day it is and have forgotten how to fill the car with diesel…or is it petrol?
I blame Captain Tom Moore for turning on my tears tap. He’s the 99-year-old who wanted to trot 100 times around his garden to mark his upcoming centenary and raise a bob or two for NHS charities. A bob or two? More like a few million, plus a number one in the download charts singing You’ll Never Walk Alone with the wonderful Michael Ball. He’s from Yorkshire, so he’s playing it down, though.
Out of the blue I received a email from a parkrun friend. He’s is another of life’s good ‘uns. There’s no age secrets in running communities, everyone knows how old you are to within four years thanks to the age categories we’re all in. Jim is older than 70 and younger than 75 and will represent Great Britain in the seniors’ half marathon, yes, he’s that good.
Anyway, he wanted to know how Noel was, he always asked, right from the Bastard Cancer diagnosis last June through treatment, surgery and recovery. I was able to report that Noel continues to get better every day and is running at least once a week, slowly but surely – the only time I’ll ever be ahead!
As a by-the-way, he mentioned he’d had a mild dose of Covid-19, just a little five-day stay in hospital, nothing to worry about, no ventilator needed, but oxygen went down fine…. A mild dose? Five days in hospital? Oxygen needed? That’s not mild in my book, but it was Noel he was concerned about. I cried. Such kindness.
Then there was the knock on the door. It was a bit like Mischief Night as I opened up and there was no-one there….the little buggers. Ah, but no, social distancing and all that, so there a couple of metres away was another parkrun friend, who’d run a few miles to bring me some bread flour because I’d run out and supermarkets were sold out. First world problem, there is no bread shortage, we won’t starve, but the lovely Jane had brought flour and yeast in her backpack and wouldn’t take payment, she was being kind. I cried. Again.
And another friend who called from the supermarket to ask what I needed and delivered it to the front door. More crying. People are kind, so kind.
There’s the kindness I see to others, like my allotment mates delivering plants to folk in the village who are socially isolated. It’s not so much the plants, but the two-metre-distance conversation, checking folk are OK, they are now. Betty, a widow, was celebrating her 90th birthday, so I made a two-metre-wide banner and two of use took it to her house, along with a plant and sang happy birthday. Neighbours came out and joined in, most of us were in the same key. Yes, I cried.
Each Thursday we’re outside on the front step, clapping and cheering for the NHS, my hands hurt so much with washing and scrubbing that I now use a ladle and colander.
I try to be kinder to everyone in these stressful times when people are worried, possibly frightened, thanking the supermarket workers and shop workers, applauding the bin men, I’ve even applauded the police as I was running, they waved back. Saying hello to fellow queuers, virtually hugging practically everyone, being patient (that’s a bloody big stretch for me, I can tell you!) But most of all, staying home so I don’t catch or spread the virus.
I’m taking part in a research project being run by University College London about psychological and social experiences during the pandemic. I get a weekly email asking how I’m feeling and coping, whether I have dark thoughts or feel that life isn’t worthwhile. Thanks to the kindness of others, and trying my best to be kind myself, it feels as if I’m doing OK. Thank you, kind people. Don’t stop being kind, you may never know how your kindness helps others.