FARGO - Did you have a good summer? People ask each other that question all the time, but this time, I hope you'll take a moment to think about it.
What moments of your summer mattered? My guess is they were the ones that were filled with kindness.
When we show up in people's lives and notice them and love on them, we take an otherwise ordinary day and make it extraordinary.
Doesn't it make life exciting to know that each day you wake up, you have the opportunity to make that happen for someone else? Or, maybe someone will pop up out of nowhere and make that happen for you.
It doesn't happen by winning the lottery or finding out you're the heir to an enormous fortune. It happens in the little moments. The average ones that are touched by kindness and suddenly sparkle.
Did you have moments like that this summer? Wendy Shamp of Minnesota did. She has dealt with some tough times over the past few months as she navigates life with elderly parents, but she was also blessed to be part of at least one situation that left her speechless.
"My sister and I brought my parents to the Pequot Lakes (Minn.) Fourth of July Parade. My parents are elderly; we recently moved my mom into a memory care facility. She is 92 years old and my dad is 90. They will be celebrating their 72nd anniversary this year.
"We were sitting in front of the memory care center, both my mom and dad in their wheelchairs enjoying the parade. My dad was adamant to stand while the colors of the American Legion and VFW passed. My dad was in the Navy, he was a Seabee in WWII. As my dad is a military veteran, he always chokes back tears when the colors go by.
"It was getting toward the middle to end of the parade when the Pequot girls' sports float came by. My dad was wearing a patriotic shirt and hat, and one of the girls walking by asked him if he was a veteran. That was when they stopped. I'm not even sure what sport they were representing, but they stopped the float in front of my parents and each and every girl (at least 10-12 girls) personally came up to my dad and shook his hand and thanked him for his service.
"I'm choking up with tears just writing this, as it impacted us with such strong emotions. I don't think I will ever experience a Fourth of July parade again without thinking of how those girls made the day for a 90-year-old veteran."
Imagine all the other people along the parade route who got to see this beautiful act of kindness. I wonder if they count that day as one of their special summer moments, too. I hope so.
I also hope the girls from Pequot Lakes and the people who taught them the importance of our veterans read this story and know that the time they took to show their respect was important beyond measure.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.