Parting words for my dear Grandmother
January 10, 1919 - July 18, 2005
Over the course of my travels since leaving Memphis to go to college back in 1980 I have had occasion to hold open a door, to carry a heavy bag, to offer my jacket to someone who was cold. I have taken the time to listen to a friend in need of comforting. Iíve taken the time to be at the side of someone that I care about when they were feeling vulnerable or afraid. Iíve taken the time to sing to my daughters almost every night.
I have received on several of those occasions compliments for my actions. Upon receiving those compliments I am always quick to reply that I do those things because my grandmother trained me well.
I found myself reflecting heavily upon that notion this week and actually could not recall if she specifically taught me to walk on the street side of the sidewalk, or walk behind when going up the stairs or in front when going down. I had trouble recalling a specific instance of her telling me to give up my seat or open a door - though she very well may have. Still I found myself pondering why I have always attributed any acts of kindness that I have given to others to her?
Truthfully, it didnít take me too long to figure it out. You see itís as simple as this - more than any specific instructions on how to behave or what to do in various circumstances as I lived my life and interacted with the multitudes of both nice and not so nice people; more than giving me a motto or specific philosophy on how to live my life that I could write down and stick in my wallet; my grandmother instilled in me her spirit of kindness and love by her demonstrating kindness and love. She was the embodiment of kindness and love. Her daily living was to me a constant and deeply spiritual teaching and example on how to exist and how to treat others.
I came across a quote a little while ago that rings true to me because of her. "A little kindness from person to person is better than a vast love for all mankind; and wherever there is a human being there is an opportunity for kindness."
There is a very specific manner in which you can show kindness that I pray you can take away with you today. It is a very simple offering that I would like to share with you as a way of cherishing and spreading the legacy my grandmother has left me - her legacy of kindness and love.
I have no doubt that by your presence here today that if you knew my grandmother you knew love. And I am fairly certain that you all have love in your lives and have expressed that love even as life has thrown hurdles in your path.
Today as a means of carrying on my grandmotherís legacy I would like to offer to you a way to further extend your telling someone you love them by sharing with you an expression of kindness that you may not have previously considered in just this way.
As you return to your lives tomorrow, Monday, throughout the rest of the week, the rest of the year and for the rest of your lives please allow the spirit of Dorothy Hasolee Greene Westbrook to live in you. And as often as you say to your wife, to your husband, to your mother, to your father, to your sister, to your brother, to your daughter, to your son - as often as you say to them "I love you"; you anger me sometimes but I love you; you frustrate me sometimes but I love you, you hurt me sometimes but I will never stop loving you; as often as you tell them you love them, as often as you give them your love please also give them - your gratitude.
In living memory of my precious grandmother every now and then add this touch of kindness to your love by holding their hands, by looking in their eyes and saying to them "just for your presence in my life, thank you."