WEDNESDAY: Random Acts of Kindness


Copyright is held by the author.

PULLING HER walking frame closer to the bed, Glenda eased her plastered leg to the floor, and grabbing the frame hobbled to the bathroom. “Four weeks in this wretched plaster. I can’t wait to get rid of it. And where is that new care worker? She should have been here by now.”

The front door opened, just as Glenda managed to collapse back into the bed. “Morning Mrs. Vincent. I am Olga. I am here from the agency. Can I come in?”

“I’m in the bedroom, come up the stairs.”

“How are you today?”

“You’re late. You should have been on time.”

Olga checked her watch. “I am very sorry. I was helping a lady carry her shopping. I am only two minutes late.”

“I needed you here to help me.”

“I’m very sorry. I shall stay two minutes longer to make up for it. Now, let’s open these curtains, and let some sunshine in. It is a lovely day. Let’s get you dressed, then perhaps we can take you out for a walk.”

“I can’t walk because of this infernal plaster.”

“Then we will take your wheelchair. Let’s get you ready.”

Olga worked quickly but gently. “Now, let’s find you a nice dress to wear. This is very pretty,” she pulled out a flared floral dress.

“I haven’t worn that in years. I prefer plainer colours.”

“Yes, but this one is easy to put on, and besides, it is not too heavy for such a warm day. It is very lovely.”

Glenda came down in the stairlift “You look very pretty.” Olga told Glenda, helping her hobble to the lounge. “I will bring you some tea and your breakfast.”

The aroma of the bacon made Glenda’s tummy rumble and when Olga brought the tray through, Glenda ate hungrily. It was the first meal she’d really enjoyed in a while.

“I will clean up the dishes and the kitchen. It is a mess, no?”

“I fired the cleaner. She was not cleaning properly.”

“mm, then we must find you someone new. I think I know someone. In the meantime, I will clean.”

A short while later, Olga returned with the wheelchair, and helped Glenda settle into it. On the way out of the house, Glenda caught a glimpse of her reflection and was surprised to see Olga was right – she did look good. Although the wheelchair spoiled it. It was frustrating not being able to do things for herself and having to let strangers in to care for her.

“Let’s go down to the park. I have some seed to feed the ducks.”

“I thought people gave them bread?”

“They should only eat very little bread. Seed is better for them.”

“Morning Olga. How are you today?”

“I’m well Mr. Janson. How are you?”

“Good. Who is the lovely young lady you have with you?”

“This is Mrs. Vincent. We’re going to feed the ducks.”

“Hello,” he smiled and kissed Glenda’s hand. Glenda blushed then smiled into his twinkling eyes, “You’re lucky to have Olga. You are in good hands with her. Enjoy your stroll.”

“He seems nice. Very cheerful.”

“He is nice. I cared for his wife last year, before she died.”

“That’s very sad. I would never have guessed.”

“Everyone is going through something. I see a lot in my work.”

Glenda thought of the mood she’d been in when Olga arrived and felt a little guilty. Mr. Janson’s loss put her temporary plastered leg into perspective.

As they approached the pond, a fluffy white dog ran towards them. “Hello Trixie. I’m sure I have a treat here for you.” The little dog barked happily, dancing around Olga.

“She was so excited when she saw you. I couldn’t get her to stop,” a middle-aged woman approached them, a little out of breath.

“Oh, hello. I’m Mavis, and this is Trixie.”

“I’m Glenda,” she said, flopping onto the bench.

“It’s lovely to meet you. Still feeding the ducks I see?” she said to Olga. Olga smiled in reply.

“She’s lovely, is Olga. When I was away in Cardiff, she looked after Trixie for me.”

“Did you have a good holiday.”

“It wasn’t like that. It was my son’s funeral.”

“I am sorry.”

“It’s hard to see your children go before you. At least his children survived the accident. Do you have children?”

“Three girls. I never see them – they live far away, and don’t come to visit.”

“That’s hard. Still, take it from me, and don’t wait for them – you should reach out while you still can. I must be off. Come Trixie.”

The sunshine felt good on her skin, and it was lovely to bask in it. All too soon, Olga wheeled her home, greeting several people on their route. Olga made another cup of tea and settled Glenda on the sofa before going on to her next client. The house seemed so empty again. Glenda’s eyes fell on the photos of her girls and thought of Mavis’ words. Should she reach out to them? They’d always got on better with their father, and now that he was gone, their encounters had become increasingly brief. The last time she’d spoken to Veronica they’d had a blazing row. “Why can’t you be pleased for me? Why isn’t anything I do ever good enough for you? I give up.” Veronica slammed down the phone.

Olga arrived early the following day, carrying a bunch of flowers. “They are lovely, thank you. You’re very kind.”

“Kindness is important. You have I think a Random Acts of Kindness day? No? I think kindness should be every day. If we were all kind, the world would be a better place.”

“It’s a good idea. But I can’t do anything like this,” she gestured to the plaster.

“I’m sure we can think of something. It is another lovely day. Let’s get ready to go out.”

“Could we go into town? I need more wool to finish my blanket.”

“Of course. My cousin, Maria, she is a cleaner. While we go out, she is coming to clean for you. If you like her work, maybe you hire her?”

Glenda felt uncomfortable leaving a stranger in her home. Was she putting too much trust in Olga? The unease quickly vanished when she noticed the smiles and cheery greetings that seemed to accompany Olga. In the high street, Glenda selected her wool while Olga chatted to the saleslady. They were leaving the store when they heard “Olga, Mrs. Vincent. How lovely to see you both.” Mr. Janson said. “Could I offer you ladies a cup of tea? There is a lovely new café that does the most wonderful chocolate cake.”

“Call me Glenda,” she said, as Tom helped her settle at the table. He pulled out a chair for Olga, before taking his own seat. “I’m Tom,” he said kissing her hand again. Glenda returned his smile.

“Hello Tom. What can we get for you and your friends today?”

“Ladies, what would you like?”

Glenda looked at the chocolate cake at the counter and decided there was only one choice.

The cake was delicious, the intense chocolate flavour making her taste buds dance. They chatted about the weather, and the changes to the high street. Tom asked how Glenda had injured her leg and she told him about her fall.

“I’m sure you’ll be relieved to get rid of the plaster,“ he said.

“I can’t wait!”

Not a crumb was left when the waitress removed their empty plates. Tom paid the bill, leaving a generous tip for the waitress.

“That was lovely, thank you Tom. It was very kind of you to take us for tea.”

“Kindness – that’s Olga’s influence. She got me started, and you know, it’s made such a difference. I’m much happier. It feels good to be useful. Besides, it was my pleasure. I have enjoyed our chat. Perhaps we can do this again sometime?”

“I’d like that.”

The house was spotless when they returned, and Glenda hired Maria, who thanked her profusely.

“You have done a kind thing.” Olga told her. “Maria does not have enough work to feed her family. This will help her. See, it is easy to be kind.”

“I never thought of it like that.”

“Is this your family?” Olga asked holding a photo.

“Yes, those are my daughters. They never visit.”

“Do they live nearby?”

“No. Maggie is in London. She’s a doctor you know. Veronica is a professor, and Daisy is a teacher. I really wanted a son, but we only had the girls. Sons love their mothers.”

“They must have worked very hard to achieve so much. They do important work. That is good. You should be proud of them.”

Olga’s words stayed with Glenda. Her girls had worked hard. The argument with Veronica happened when Veronica became a professor. When Veronica had called to tell her the news, Glenda glossed over it, commenting that it had taken a long time for Veronica to get the promotion. That had been the last time they’d spoken. But Olga was right, Veronica had worked hard. How many lecturers actually became professors? It was a significant achievement. All of her girls had done well. Daisy and Maggie were happily married, Veronica had a long term partner. They all lived in houses they had bought. They seemed happy.

The following day, Olga took Glenda on a different route. The ice-cream van tune filled the air. Glenda noticed a young boy look wistfully in the direction of the noise. “Ah, here is a chance for us. That’s Shane. His dad left, and they have little money. We can buy him an ice-cream,” Olga flagged down the van. When she presented the huge cone to Shane, he flung his arms around her in thanks. “See we have done something kind today. Let’s see who else we can help.”

It seemed to come so easily to Olga, but Glenda couldn’t think of anything kind to do. “I will bring you some ideas,” Olga promised.

Olga arrived the following day with a long list. Over a cup of tea, they looked at some of the ideas. “Feed the birds? How is that kind to anyone?”

“It is kind to the birds, and we get to enjoy watching them.”

“Well, that’s easy to do – we can buy a feeder in town today. But what about people? What else is on the list?”

“Plant a tree; Cook a Meal for someone.”

“Not with this plaster!”

“Thank or compliment someone; leave a generous tip.”

“That’s what Tom did at the café.”

“He always does that, and thanks the staff. It is a small thing that means a lot. Let’s see, what else, ah: “Leave coins at a laundromat for someone else to use.” I do that in my building, it is a good one.”

“There isn’t a laundromat in town.”

“No, but perhaps you could leave coins by the children’s ride in the supermarket, so a child can ride for free?”

“You are so good at this. Let’s do it.”

No sooner had they put a coin by the ride, than a young boy climbed onto it, pretending the horse was moving. “Look Mum! I can have a ride.” He waved the coin. His face lit up, as he rocked with the horse, whooping like a cowboy. A warmth crept over Glenda’s heart. “It feels good to do something for someone else.”

Glenda got a little carried away with the bird feeders, and when they reached home, Olga spread them out in the trees. Glenda sat at the window watching as the first birds tentatively explored her offerings. Before long, they were chirping happily. They really were very sweet.

Glenda picked up the list Olga had left and began looking for another kind act. “Give a box of chocolates to the postman, dustman, or someone else who performs a service for you.” Mm, she’d add chocolates to her shopping list. Her list grew as she read: “Buy toys for children in need, food for a foodbank, or pet food for an animal shelter.” “There’s got to be more to this than shopping though,” she said aloud. “Complain less. Mm, that one stung a little. “Write a letter to someone telling them what you appreciate and admire about them.” Suddenly, Glenda knew what she had to do. This was not going to be easy.

“Dear Veronica.” Now what? “I am sorry?” No. “Congratulations?” No. Glenda scrunched up another page. “This letter is long overdue. I wanted to tell you how proud I am of you, and to say sorry for not telling you sooner… “

Tears were streaming down her face by the time she wrote: “love Mum.” Veronica was amazing. All of her girls were. Glenda wrote to each of them in turn.

Glenda climbed into bed in the early hours of the morning, feeling exhausted, but warmed by the glow in her heart, a sense that she’d done the right thing.

Over the next few days, Glenda and Olga looked for little kind deeds they could do, and Glenda was surprised at how many people began to chat with her, and how much happier she felt. Tom joined their little gang, and the three of them scattered parcels of cookies and sweets with inspirational cards, and other random acts of kindness in their wake. Tom and Glenda even signed up to help at the local homeless charity, although the plaster prevented Glenda from doing much more than chatting with the people. “I’m lucky to have so much,” she said to Tom.

The day to remove the plaster came round all too soon. Glenda was dreading having to say goodbye to Olga. “You will not need me anymore, so I must help someone else, but we can still be friends. No?”

“No, I mean yes, of course. I’d like that.”

“Plus, you have Tom now, who is perhaps more than a friend?”

Glenda smiled.

It was a relief to be able to walk without the plaster, but Glenda missed Olga’s daily visit. When the doorbell rang, she rushed to open it, hoping it would be Olga. Her three girls stood on the doorstep. “Hello mum.” Said Veronica.

“My girls. It’s so good to see you!” Glenda opened her arms and moved to hug them. “My wonderful girls. I love you so much. I am so glad you came,” Glenda couldn’t stop the tears.

“We got your letters Mum.”

Glenda invited them in and went to make the tea. Her girls had come to see her! A good thing she’d made the chocolate cake. She had been planning on giving it to Betty, but she’d make another one. “That letter meant so much to me,” Maggie said. “For the first time, I felt like you accepted me, and loved me.”

“Me too.”

“And me.”

“I am so sorry I never said it. I am so glad to see you all. I do love you.”

“What happened to make you write to us?” Veronica asked.

Glenda told them about Olga, the random acts of kindness, and Tom. “It’s a funny thing, but kindness has changed my life.”

“It’s changed ours too.”


Image of Denice Penrose

Denice is a freelance writer, who has a patchwork of jobs on academic research projects. She lives in England with her husband, and kowtows to the six cats, who are their furry children. Follow her on twitter @denicepenrose or through her blog:

1 comment
  1. What an inspiration! Thank you so much for this story. I’m going to send it to my daughter-in-law who is the “Olga” in my life, and to look for ways to be more like both of them.

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