I received a message yesterday (Day 25**) from an acquaintance who mentioned that she was following these 31 Days of Kindness, and also that it would have been her late father's 91st birthday. I have found that sharing my grief so publicly seems to give others permission to share their grief as well. I can only hope that sharing the healing that these small acts bring me will, similarly, have that same healing effect on others.
In response to her message, I wanted to bless a man who was as old a her father would have been. So my goal was to find the oldest man I could, but I wasn't sure how to bless him. I discovered that there are zillions of old people in Manhattan, and almost all of them have seem to suffer from severe mental illness. It was actually really sad, but I discovered that the greatest kindness one could probably show to an elderly person is to take time to listen to the story of their life.
Stories of war, love, disability checks, feast and famine, becoming a widower, estranged from children, illness, pain, loss and loneliness seem to be a common thread woven in the stories of these long lives. Yet, being seen and heard, is a healing kindness to a people who are largely ignored.
In selfishly unrelated news, Melissa and I saw (and maybe followed) Diana Ross and her daughter all the way to their building! Her hair was sensational and I love her so much.
And you may not be able to tell from this picture, but if you look really close, you can tell that she loves me too.
I love this city. I love Diana Ross. I love old men with tragic stories. I love seeing a perfectly serious woman on a bicycle wearing regular clothes, and a top hat. I loved seeing this truck full of singing, dancing farm animal puppets, for no reason whatsoever.
I mean... Why!?
It's a wild city, but I love it. And I loved Day 26.
I met up with Jess and her son Colin. I knew Jessica back in high school, and not even that well really, but my brother Adam went to prom with Jess' sister Jean-Marie, back when the tea-length ball gown was the cat's meow.
So, Jess and Jean-Marie followed our 31 Days of Kindness last year, and Jess blessed our family with a huge kindness of helping us with flights so we can bring Jay to NYC to visit Miss N. She and Melissa are the reason we were able to agree to having such an open adoption.
It goes without saying, I owed her a cup of coffee. But her and her amazing son, Colin, had grander and kinder plans. They wanted to participate in Day 26. So they spent the morning doing this:
So that we could spend the day doing this:
Colin made and delivered about a dozen sandwiches for homeless men and women throughout the city, making sure that each person had dessert as well. After reflecting on all that we saw and the experience of the day, Colin drew this remarkable picture when he returned home.
Jess is raising such a talented and terrific kid, and it was fun to get to know them both. It made Day 26 very special. Almost as special as the man we saw dressed in all red, with a flowing black mullet holding a mirror-encrusted school folder in front of his face so people couldn't look directly at him. It was so bizarre, and the only thing I loved more than Diana's glorious hair.
**For the purpose of continuity one detail of this story was altered, I actually did both kindnesses today. Melissa, while the most kind and generous possible host one could imagine, it turns out that she hates, and does not support, my acts of kindness. When I told her yesterday that I had to "bless an old man" she simply said, "I hate this."
So, I was forced to wait until she was on an airplane heading out of the city before I blessed the elderly. Against her wishes.