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An Act of Kindness

Life Story Club Contributor

June 22, 2020

I want to tell a story about the time my father died. I was living in San Francisco and my dad was in Michigan where I grew up. He was poorly, in health, and I knew it was going to be his time soon. I got out of work, downtown San Francisco, and I was getting ready to get on the train. I got a phone call from my dad’s girlfriend. I didn’t answer it. I didn’t pick up because I knew what the phone call was going to entail. I waited until I got home and I called her back. The news was that he had died a couple of days earlier and his body was found that day that she was calling me. I think what happens for most people, when someone close dies, you just go into packing mode.

I had to pack my clothes. I had to pack a nice dress. I have to get all of my toiletries, my medication, and just get on a plane. As long as I can just get to the airport and get on a plane, everything’s taken care of, which was not true. I get on the plane and that ability to have something else take care of you at that moment, there’s nothing to do when you get on a plane. You’re just going to your destination and you have to wait it out. That’s point where I just kind of lost s-h-i-t.

I landed in Grand Rapids. It was about a five hour flight. My phone, all of my messages just came through on my phone. It was just going off the hook. One message was from my best friend in Philadelphia. She didn’t ask what she could do. She just said, I’m getting on a plane in three hours and I’m going to be there.

And she was about what five hours later. I picked her up at a small airport. She had originally decided to come there to help me because my husband, at the time, couldn’t get time off work. She got there and she was like, Okay, let’s get everything set up in the hotel. Let’s get your old boyfriend, Dave Mercer. We’re going to his house. We’re going to check everything out and get things set up. Which we did. A day later, my husband was able to come. He flew in to Michigan. Then my brother flew in. I love my brother, but, he’s a younger brother. I’m five years older than him. He just wasn’t much help. Neither was my husband because they didn’t know how to support me. There was one point where, I think it was the night before the Memorial, my brother, my husband, and my best friend, Laura, we were hanging out in the hotel room, just going through paperwork and whatnot.

I just became overwhelmed physically and started vomiting. My brother and my husband just sat there, watching me puke. They didn’t know what to do. They didn’t know how to support me. Laura said, You guys need to get out of here right now. Go to a restaurant. Go to a bar. You just need to leave. Just throughout the whole process, she knew innately what I needed and what to do and how to manage these other people. Along with that story, at the time, I had an estranged friend who worked close by where my father had died. She called him and she said, “If you are not here for the Memorial tomorrow, I’m just going to kick your ass.” He was. He showed up. She just kind of steered everything for me.

She created an infrastructure and I just plugged everything in that needed to happen. That I couldn’t do. Had she not been there, this story would be completely different. It was just a huge act of kindness on her part. Her mom’s living right now. She’s very close to her mom. She’s just getting older and I know the day is going to come where she calls me, My mom died. I just got to do what I did with my dad. Getting my clothes, get a dress, get all of my toiletries and get on a plane and go.

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