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Kindness of a stranger warms heart on Valentine’s Day | Columnists

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Kindness of a stranger warms heart on Valentine's Day | Columnists
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The email came on Valentine’s Day without a whisper of warning: “I read about your knee in your column,”A stranger wrote. “I appreciate what you do. I would like to bring you dinner tonight.”

I sat down at my computer at home, my left leg braced around me to protect the knee ligaments I had torn six weeks ago when I fell on blackice. I stared in disbelief at this message.

Someone wants to take me for dinner? I looked at the name, but it was not familiar to me. Finally, I sent an email back to you, feeling grateful, humble, and unworthy. You may bring me dinner.



Mary Jane Skala

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Unexpectedly, tears began to seep into my eyes. It reminded me again, as if God were giving me a little nudge, that there’s a lot of kindness in the world. It’s a blessing that life spills over. It’s most often quiet, like prayer.

I was struck by the open-mindedness and generosity of Nebraskans when I moved to Kearney in 2012 from Cleveland. I’ve written stories about selfless friends who set up benefits for victims of sickness, floods, fires and accidents.

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I wrote about a woman that made and gave away hundreds upon the arrival of COVID. Two women made hats and gave them away to newborns at CHI Health Good Samaritan. Two months ago I wanted to write about a Kearney woman making dolls for children in need at Christmas. She declined. Her joy is in being anonymous.

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I was a newspaper editor at Cleveland and was invited to ride on Santa Train, a 79-year-old tradition in Kingsport, Tennessee. The Saturday before Thanksgiving has been a Saturday for CSX Transportation and the Kingsport chamber. Santa stands on a platform in the back of the train, and tosses gifts to the blanket-wrapped mountain folk. The journey covers 110 miles between Pikeville (Kentucky) and Kingsport.

“You’ll cry,”I was warned by the project chairman. He was right. Giving was like blowing up my heart.

Ghost Ranch Education & Retreat Center, northern New Mexico. I was employed in 2015 A Benedictine monastery was located 15 miles away, deep within an isolated canyon. A monk rode frantically on an old bicycle into the ranch as the skies unleashed a fierce, icy rain one November afternoon. He’d been on the main highway, but the rain had washed out the dirt monastery road, so he took refuge with us. He needed to stay the night.

We leapt into action. Someone paid for his hotel room. Someone else paid for his dinner. Someone else loaned him his pajamas. We were delighted, despite his deep, profound humility and so much apologetic. We loved being allowed to give.

Since I’ve been laid up, friends have brought pizza, sandwiches, groceries and an old card table so I can do jigsaw puzzles. Instinct taps me on the shoulder and frowns: don’t ask anyone for help, but I have no other option.

My dinner angel arrived on time last night. Instantly, she felt just like a good friend. She started with a tossed salad consisting of tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, carrots and cucumbers. Next, she received a croissant roll with butter and a bottle iced tea.

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On a red “Happy Valentine’s Day”The paper plate contained a large portion of pot roast, potatoes, and corn. She apologized for the gravy that had sloshed in the container and a few drops of gravy on my placemat. I was so distracted by it. Placemats can be washed. The pièce de résistance: A fat, delicious piece of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. “I love doing acts of kindness,”She spoke.

She also gave me an extra Valentine. It contained two large foil hearts on one side, and a handwritten message the other. “Enjoy a special meal. Put your feet up and watch the Olympic athletes do all the amazing feats we all wish we could do, good knees or not,”She wrote.

“And at the end of the day, may you hear God whisper gently to you, ‘Happy Valentine’s Day. I love you.’”

It hangs on my fridge. It is possible that I will never take it down.

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