For as long as I can remember, giving back is something that comes natural to me. I remember laughing several years ago when my income tax preparer told me that I was one of the most generous unemployed people he had ever known! There are many ways to give back whether it is by donating one’s time or money, or by doing something special to brighten a person’s day. Sometimes an act of kindness can have a lasting memory.
Several years ago I frequently came into contact with an elderly gentleman as he cut through the parking lot to make his way to the local grocery store. He was quite an independent chap, but very pleasant and always had a positive outlook. During our brief chats Peter K. often reminded me that it was good for him to get out and about. One day I noticed him at the grocery store and he seemed a little anxious. I asked Peter if everything was okay. As we started to chat, I learned that he was quite interested in hockey and had been listening to the Stanley cup games on the radio. I was surprised to discover he didn’t have a television. He had heard all about the rising hockey star at the time, Sidney Crosby, but Peter had never actually watched him play, and he confessed that he so wanted to watch “Sid the Kid.” Here was a man who was a war veteran; I knew he had to watch Crosby.
I invited Peter to come over to my house to watch the next game. (The Pittsburgh Penguins were playing the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup final). His reaction was that of a boy who had been given a gift. The next afternoon, on cue, Peter arrived to watch the game. Instantly his eyes were glued to the television; he was in his element. Rarely did his eyes wander away from watching the game, except to occasionally sip from the cups of tea I presented to him, or to devour several cookies. At times the duration of the game got the better of Peter as, to my amusement, I caught him occasionally snoozing. Still, I knew that being able to watch most of the game meant a lot to Peter. The only disappointment preventing the afternoon from being perfect was that “Sid the Kid” and the Penguins lost to the Red Wings (they would go on to lose the series).
Before the year end I saw Peter less and less on my walkabouts; he was no longer routinely taking the bus to the library. I called the property management company to make enquiries about his well-being only to be told he had moved into a nursing home. I had thought about him often over the years. Today, I learned Peter passed away earlier this year; he was 95. I will never forget his boyish grin as he watched Sid the Kid play hockey. A simple act of kindness meant so much to Peter, but it gave me a lifetime memory I will always cherish.