"Never lose sight of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how you treat other people - your family, friends, and coworkers, and even strangers you meet along the way".----Barbara Bush
I had several ideas of what I wanted to write about for this post, however, my experience today caused me to reflect on something that has changed me considerably over the last several years. The kindness of strangers.
Today I went out to the ranch to get away...and to take some photos. I love the drive out there. It's not too far, about 20 minutes, but it gives me time to unwind. It's amazing how things change as I approach my exit. The minute I head down the exit ramp I feel as if I'm transported back to a simpler time. I pass by modest farm houses, barns that have seen better days and so many old cars and pickup trucks parked out front that you wonder "how many spare parts could one person need?" One thing is consistent, no matter what they are doing, repairing a fence, carrying groceries into the house, or plowing the field...they will always wave.
The kindness doesn't stop there. As I drove by one of my neighbor's house I got the wave, drove on by, parked my car at the end of the road and walked my property line. I got clear to the back and climbed through a gap in the fence to photgraph a cow carcass that I had seen there a year ago (thought it would make an interesting subject for a photo). On my way back I heard the hum of a motor, I looked up, and there was my neighbor mowing the overgrowth in the road to my property and making a clear turn-around path at the end of the road. No one else lives that far down. He did it just for me. I tried to speed up my pace to catch him and thank him but he didn't wait, he mowed and headed home. On my way out I stopped
at the end of his driveway and met him as he was parking the mower near his garage. I said "thank you" to which he replied "I tried to finish before you saw me, just don't want kids to think no one goes back there and get into trouble".
He invited me inside to meet his wife. She was just as pleasant as he was. They were a nice couple, he was retired military, and they...like me...came to visit Wyoming and fell in love. She offered me a drink (after they pulled their two overly excited Huskies off me) and showed me a Minnie Mouse quilt she had just made for a niece and a purse she was sewing from the leftover fabric. "This", I thought to myself, "is how people should treat each other"..."always".
Things are different out there but I am in no way implying that it's not that way in town, or anywhere else. I've experienced so much kindness in the last several years that I am almost brought to tears just thinking about it. I don't know if it's because of all I've been through the last few years, or, if I am just more aware of it because of what I've been through. Either way, it has affected me immeasurably.
There were the visitors and staff at the hospital where my daughter was treated that have become family.
Co-workers that donated sick time, cooked Thanksgiving dinner for us, covered for me when I had to be out unexpectedly and served as caterers and clean up crew at Sara's memorial service.
There is the riding instructor, who became a friend, and gave me a place to stay. Photographers who made me feel beautiful again after my accident. People I've never met in person, who have touched my heart, and have become some of my most valued supporters. I know I'm still missing people but I want you all to know how much I value your support and kindness.
Most importantly, at least for today, I want to thank Lewis and Nancy for stirring these feelings in me. Thank you both. I can't wait to be your neighbor.