The other day my blog was about bumping into a woman I used to know and she thanked me for a kind I act that I had done (I didn’t remember it, and I don’t think I thought of it as me doing a nice thing at the time). The blog was about the power of kindness.
Today, it happened again, but in complete reverse! This time it was me who had received the kindness.
Bradford and I were taking a walk in the neighborhood today, and the only person we saw the whole time was an older man with a walker and wearing a “Korean Veteran” baseball cap. He had a big brown dog off leash. We stopped to pet the dog and say hello. We chitchatted about the trees on the street that were all marked for removal. During this conversation, he said his name was John Lehne. I was surprised and caught off guard, my eyes started to swell with tears when I heard his name.
When I was 10 years old, my neighbor friend named Solvang, asked me to take over her afternoon newspaper route for the local Santa Monica paper called The Evening Outlook. I took over her route for the week, but then she never came back (they had actually moved, and somehow I thought they were going on vacation). So, with an accidental job at the age of 10 in 1979, I would come home after school and the newspapers would be waiting on my doorstep. I would fold them up, and put rubber bands around them, pack up my bike, and go deliver papers on the 10 blocks around our apartment building.
It was a pretty hard, lonely job. Most people in our neighborhood were still out at work, as I was dutifully leaving them their evening news to enjoy. But, there was one bright ray of sunshine towards the end of the last street every day. The nice Mr. Lehne and his sweet whippet dog, would come to greet me every day as I walked up the steps of his property. He was old, slow, and friendly. I would wait for him to slowly amble down the walk way and pet his dog while I waited. I would hand him the paper and he would hand me one wrapped, foreign, gourmet chocolate. And, everyday he would say to me, “Make sure you wait until you get home and wash your hands before you eat it.” My hands were really inked stained by this part of the day. “Yes, Mr. Lehne,” I would say and run off to finish my route. But, as soon as I was out of Mr. Lehne’s site, I would rip off the wrapper and savor and smile, while eating this delicious chocolate. He was there every day, and so was I. It felt close. It felt good. Many years later I would occasionally nostalgically remember him and his candy and even more delicious to me, his caring warning against ink poisoning. His daily kindness always meant something to me. I even shared this story with Bradford sometime ago.
So fast forward to today, this was Mr. Lehne’s 87 year old son in front of me! (Mr. Lehne is now deceased, Rest In Peace sweet Mr. Lehne). The childhood feelings of warmness flooded over and I I got to tell my neighbor John Lehne about the kindness his father showed me over 33 years ago.
His face lit up as I described his father, the whippet, the delicious chocolate his father gave me, and how I would sneak around the corner to eat it.
He was touched, remembering his father through this exchange. He said to us, “Every afternoon I take this walk, and I talk to my dad during this time.” We all stood there, Me, Bradford, John Lehne (and I think we all felt the honoree of this moment, Mr. Lehne present with us. ) We stood there, just being in the breeze and the sunshine.
As we said good bye, John Lehne said smiling, “I can’t wait to go home and tell my wife this story about my dad. Thank you very much for sharing that story!”
I said, “Thank you as well. Your father’s kindness really meant a lot to me. I’m so happy to meet you.” I really meant it.
So once again I am witness that small things can really make a difference in someone’s life.
Thank You Mr. Lehne, your kindness enriched my life. Thank You!
Love Rules the World,