i don't like to admit that i am getting older. still, as i think back to my childhood, i can't help but remember it as a completely different era. things were different back then. life was simpler. people trusted one another. there was still evil in the world but it was less popular than it is today. the horrible did not take center stage.
when i was five years old, i received a new pair of roller skates. i'm one of those strange people who can remember her childhood vividly. i remember the excitement of sitting on the front porch and strapping on my skates. i can remember the joy that came in wearing them and the frustration that followed when i couldn't figure out how to keep myself upright while learning how to use them. as i was struggling and sitting on the porch sulking, our neighborhood mailman was making his rounds. back in the late 70's and early 80's, our mailman parked his mail truck, grabbed his bag of mail and walked door to door to deliver our mail. this sweet man had been delivering mail for most of his life and was nearing retirement as he approached my house and me, sulking on the front porch.
after assessing the situation, he offered to help me learn how to skate. he asked my mother if he could help and there we began our journey together. every day i would sit on the front porch with my skate laces tied up, waiting for him to arrive. as he walked from door to door, he held my hand and steadied me around the neighborhood, helping me get my bearings in the wonderful world of rollerskating. he would carefully deliver me back to my mother each day before he moved on to the next neighborhood. i looked forward to him daily and remember those moments with pure joy. i had to have slowed him down considerably, made his route longer, his back more sore and his day longer but you never would have known it. he arrived each day with a smile, talked with me endlessly and taught me that skill with the patience of a saint. i wondered if something like that would ever happen for my children in today's society. it was a different era. and yet...
this week, i sat on my front porch and waited for the school bus to arrive. the day before, bombs had exploded at the boston marathon. earlier that morning, a facebook post had been circulating about a nearby failed child abduction. the signs of evil were everywhere. it was overwhelming to ponder. in the midst of those thoughts, three of my kids came bounding off the bus, all smiles. the two oldest went indoors but my sweet kindergartener, stayed behind. a landscaping business was busy mowing the neighbor's lawns and he was fascinated by the huge, ride-on lawnmower and the edger they were using. we sat there and stared at the workers for a half an hour. my sweet boy would venture closer and closer to see what they were doing. he braved a wave and a smile a couple of times and the gentleman mowing smiled and waved back.
it took some time for the lawns to get mowed. the men had been working on four houses on our street and had been there for hours. still, as the last bit of grass was cut, the man mowing slowed down and motioned for my little one to come over. my son was hesitant at first but with my encouraging, he walked over to the man. the landscaper didn't speak much english but he motioned for my son to climb up and for the next ten minutes, the two of them drove up and down the street in front of my house. he taught my son how to steer, to speed up and slow down and let him drive the mower on his own, watching and helping carefully. you would have thought my six year old had won the lottery. the smile on his face lit up the sky.
steering on his own...
just like that, my faith in humanity was restored. we do live in a different era...but not that different. there will always be evil in the world but good people outnumber the bad 100 fold. there will still be those who go out of their way to bring joy to someone else for no personal gain. there will still be lovers of kindness and mercy and goodness. there will still be those who choose to bring unbridled joy to someone else. i'm choosing to celebrate those people today. i'm passing on the joy in the hopes we can all keep those stories going...and that good will always shine brightest.
happiest boy ever!