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Be Kind

Be kind every day

A grandmother stoops at a doorway to accept a flower being offered to her by a two-year-old grandson. Both are smiling. background is a wooden hosue with window.
A grandson offers me an unexpected flower at Evergreen. Simple acts of kindness change the world.

Can you recall your last act of kindness? Was it this morning, yesterday, or last week?

When I was younger, I planned to make a mark on the world by writing the quintessential Australian novel.


But it’s turned out that authors like Peter Carey and Tim Winton don’t need to step aside because I’ve let that dream subside into the mud of what might have been and decided that the best way for me to make a mark on the world is to simply be kind.


This is not a cop-out, as I will explain.

A Nurse Making a Mark on the World


It was a young nurse at Fiona Stanley Hospital who inspired me to choose my new world-changing plan.


After having my gall bladder removed in Albany Hospital, I was flown by the Royal Flying Doctor Service to Fiona Stanley Hospital to have an ERCP (Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography) to insert a stent into a blocked bile duct. I had to wait in the hospital for four days for this operation because other people with more serious emergency issues kept being admitted and going to the head of the line.


As one doctor put it, ‘Let’s face it, Mrs Ainsworth, you’re not dying.’


I quipped that we were all dying, but acknowledged the point he was making, and graciously accepted what was happening.


A complication was that I had to fast 18 hours a day so my stomach would be empty if they were able to operate. So three times a day I had to listen to the beguiling sounds of the meals and drinks trolley trundling past my door without stopping.


Another complication was that I’d been a contact-of-a-contact for COVID-19 in Albany Hospital, so I wasn’t allowed out of my room when I got to Fiona Stanley.


However, a further complication was that my son and his wife, who live in the USA, whom I hadn’t seen for four years, had just flown home, bringing their first child, a grandson I hadn’t met yet. They’d planned to stay with us at our property in Albany for ten days before returning to America.

But here I was, stuck in Perth in a blue hospital gown that gaped at the back, attached to an IV, fasting, in isolation, and awaiting a necessary operation that kept being postponed while the amount of time before their departure grew ever shorter.


On the fourth night, a young nurse came in to test my vital signs, give me a needle in my tummy, and issue pills.


She touched my arm gently and asked how I was feeling. That’s when I started crying and told her the whole sad story.


She listened. Then she poured me a small glass of water to sip to get the pills down, straightened the bedding, passed me a box of tissues, and said kindly, ‘There, there. It will work out. No more crying.’


I lay back on the pillow, strangely comforted by this woman almost half a century younger than me.


Later that night, she made a special trip back to see me after her shift ended, to say goodnight.


Because I wasn’t allowed out of the room, I was pacing the narrow space between the bed and walls for exercise to help me sleep. So I was standing up when she entered. She gave me a warm hug and repeated her admonition.


‘No more crying,’ she said, wagging her finger at me as if she were a wise old woman, and I a child.


I could tell she was smiling behind her mask because her eyes were warm and filled with light.


She made a mark on my world.

It suddenly seemed a kinder place and I felt comforted.

Make a Mark by Being Kind


Being kind can take thought and planning, or it can be spontaneous. However it happens, it changes someone’s world.


And by changing someone’s world it changes the whole world because it changes what the world is composed of at that moment.


The whole world is suddenly a kinder place than it would have been without that act of kindness.


In the last verse of his poem ‘Making a Mark on the World,  Steve Taylor wrote:


But acts of kindness never fade,
They never turn to memories that can be forgotten.
Our souls absorb them, and carry them forever
As marks of trust and love.


Let’s make marks of kindness all over the world.          


Love, Marlane

P.S. The operation occurred the next day so I was able to spend time with my family members from America.


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