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A tree full of kindness

Nicole Phillips writes about residents of a senior living complex who have started decorating a tree that one wheelchair-bound resident stares at all day so he has something interesting to look at. Special to Forum News Service1 / 2
Nicole Phillips, Kindness is Contagious columnist Photo courtesy Ann Fredricks Photography 2 / 2

My dad had a stroke in the summer of 2016. For more than a year, he's been a resident of an assisted-living home. It's a lovely place, but my heart hurts because I know that isn't where he wants to be.

I got to return to Wisconsin to visit him a few weeks ago and was delighted to see that he can now do a pretty good shuffle-walk. He still can't move the right side of his body, but he's learning how to compensate. His hard work is paying off. There were tears in both of our eyes when he told me he gets to move back home this fall.

All the while we were sitting and talking, my boys were enthralled with my dad's window, specifically, the view outside my dad's window.

Knowing that my father is a huge bird watcher, some family members installed a perch and a few feeders. My uncle keeps them stocked with seed and my dad has constant feathered friends.

It's a little thing, but it speaks great love to my dad. It turns out, that sort of kindness may not be unique to my father's situation. A woman from Duluth, Minn., sent me this touching letter.

"One of my friends lives in a complex for senior citizens. One of her neighbors is confined to a chair and obviously does not get out very often, especially not on his own. His name is Ted, and most times Ted sits by his window and either sleeps or stares at the tree outside.

Other residents in the building have sort of adopted him, and they take turns making sure the tree is decorated. On all occasions, the tree is decked out with appropriate decor: flags and banners for the Fourth of July, lights and colorful decorations for the Christmas season, and flowers and pinwheels with delicate white lights for the summer.

Also, when people enter or leave the building, most of them will stop by the window and wave to Ted, or show him what they've brought, just to make sure he has a smile for the day.

I think these same people are responsible for the flowers and plants in front of his window.

I had to take a picture when I passed by. Stuff like this just gets to me every single time I see it.

There are a lot of horrible things out there, but there are also a lot of plain, ordinary everyday people who do what they can to brighten up the world. These are my heroes."

In the midst of pain or sadness, these heroes quietly fill our lives with joy by their unsung acts of kindness. May we know them. May we be them.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.

Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University's men's head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her column runs every Friday. You can visit Nicole at " target="_blank">nicolejphillips.com.

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