Friday, 13 March 2009

Acts of kindness

R was, it must be said, a bit of a wine snob. My family joke about my 'inheritance' in the wine cellar (or the cupboard under the stairs as most people would call it). So I know he would have looked askance at this bottle of homemade dry white that I received from a lovely freecycler in return for several bunches of willow whips that have been cluttering up my barn for over a year now. He would have been wrong, though, as it was very drinkable indeed.

I can't count the number of little acts of kindness that I have received over the past seven months. There are the neighbours who knock on my door to say hello as they are passing, the friend who brings me a cake every time she calls, those who phone, text or email on a near daily basis. A couple of days before R's funeral, one neighbour knocked on my door. She apologised for not having come to see me before, but then said, "I could see that you had family and other people with you, so I didn't like to bother you. But I just wanted to let you know that when they have all gone home, we will still be here to look after you." And she has been as good as her word ever since.

I live in a small upland sheep-farming community. The people here are tough, but they look after one another in a non-emotional sort of way. In the first few weeks after R died, several times when I was walking the dog a battered Landrover screeched to a halt beside me, the old boy inside got out and shook me by the hand, saying "I'm sorry for your trouble". I seemed to have acquired a degree of respect for holding it together on the surface at least. I guess if you have a barn full of 300 ewes all ready to lamb, you can't take much time off, even to mourn the death of a loved one.

And the little gestures that make life worth living even on the crappest of days still keep coming. Yesterday I had the opportunity to pay a little of it back when a neighbour asked if I could collect a load of wood with him as his own 4x4 was in for repair. It was good to be able to give, rather than receive for once. And then he dropped the bombshell. Was I alright for money? He and his wife weren't rich, but they had a little put aside and would be happy to help me out if I needed it before the probate came through. I was torn between the sheer excruciating embarrassment that we both felt at that moment and the overwhelming wave of love and kindness that washed over me. I can't remember exactly what I muttered in reply, but we ended up agreeing that he would kindly arrange to fill my woodstore instead. Even that was beyond the call of neighbourly duty, but it was greatly appreciated nonetheless.


  1. How beautiful. I felt similar things from some neighbors, and mostly from my (Unitarian) church community. How fortunate you are to have folks like this around you.
    (300 ewes? Really? I'm in awe!)


  2. Yes, community is so important. I dread to think how I would be coping if I were still living in the city. I'm glad you have been able to find something similar through your church.

    (I don't have 300 ewes - just three!)