Image description: The word “KINDness” in blue capital letters and the words ‘tiny gesture’ in red in the heart of the word.

Sometimes an act of kindness is just the smallest of gestures. And sometimes the smallest of gestures can indicate an heart overflowing with gentleness. We had pulled up outside a store where we needed to do shopping. Because of the steepness of the ramp, we need to pull up to a sidewalk wherever we can, if we can’t find one I have to back down which isn’t the easiest thing to do. Here we found that we could pull up to the end of a sidewalk, without a curb cut, and to do that the van was oddly, but safely positioned.

A woman from the store, on a smoke break, was out front. She watched us pull into position, I could see she was curious why we were parking the van in that spot. It didn’t make sense to her, until, that is, Joe opened the door and let down the ramp. I got out of my manual, Joe removed it from the van, and I transferred into the power chair. She was still watching. The moment I looked up, our eyes connected. She nodded, in greeting, took two steps forward, off the pathway I would travel and turned her back to us, giving me complete privacy.

I can’t tell you what that meant to me.

But I’m going to try.

I’m not used to having my feelings considered. I’m not used to being seen and having my humanity and dignity automatically assumed. I’m not used to being actively ‘unfreaked’ by others. By the way if ‘unfreaked’ is not a word, it damn well should be. Because that’s what it feels like. It feels like I’m recategorized from ‘other’ to ‘another’ and mostly this is a long process, up to three days, but, this was instantaneous. The speed at which it happened almost dizzied me.

I wonder if people understand how simple kindness is … I wonder if they realize it take little effort, that it’s the grandest gesture made in the simplest of ways.

I wonder if people understand how important kindness is … I wonder if they realize that that little effort can have a huge impact, that it’s a powerful testament to shared humanity.

I wonder if people understand how valued kindness is … I wonder if they realize that, with just a tiny bit of effort, it can tell the world what kind of person you are.

I drove by her and stopped for a second to thank her. But, then I drove on. Instead, I just waved and smiled. She did the same. I think that thanking her would have drawn attention to what we both knew happened anyway. I think it would have diminished the moment. I wanted my face, my smile and the warmth with which I waved at her to be a “thank you” that she would remember.

Because, I will remember her, for a long, long, time.