Nicole J. Phillips / Forum News Service
It’s June, and yet if you happen to mention the past winter to anyone in North Dakota, you will still hear, “Uff da, the worst we’ve ever had.” Sometimes they follow it up with, “I’m putting my house up for sale.” It’s unclear whether or not they are joking. Fargo resident Avis Dolan knew she better get out of Dodge before her mental health plummeted. Here’s her story: “I decided to visit my college friend in Florida. March 9 approached, and so did some weather warnings for the upcoming week. Oh, great.
Have you ever heard of a little boy named Jessy Haberman? Barb Haberman, a summer resident of Detroit Lakes, Minn., introduced me to the little boy whose kindness has truly become contagious. “Imagine yourself at 4 years old having an infusion at a cancer center wondering, ‘Who are all these strange people and what are they doing to me?’ Then someone gives you a red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger. Even though it didn’t take your pain or fear away, it does take your mind off what was happening even if only for a few minutes.
I celebrated my birthday at the beginning of May by asking people for ideas of little acts of kindness I could do on my big day. It was fun hearing about all the ways people had celebrated their own birthdays in the past. My favorite ideas came from Pixie Neece, of Fargo, who gathered her friends and dedicated the entire day to loving others. “This year was hands down the best birthday I ever had. The rules were no gifts for the birthday girl, but I did ask my friends to bring some specific things for the day.
In case you haven’t heard (because I only mention it every 15 minutes or so), I won a car on “The Price is Right.” I wish everyone could have something happen in their lives that brings them the pure joy that this surreal experience brought me.
My friend Heather died of cancer when we were 30. I remember walking through a deli with her when she was deep in the battle. I noticed how other people looked at her out of the corner of their eyes. When my friend noticed another woman wearing a scarf over a bald head, Heather marched right over to her, said “Hello!” and wished her health and healing. How I wished I could be that confident and that kind.
I know there are kind people all over the world, but there are certain things that come across my computer that leave me thinking, “That could only happen in North Dakota.” Or maybe it’s a small-town thing. I don’t really know, but isn’t it nice to hear that goodness still exists in our communities and people will go out of their way for others? Take, for example, this story sent in by Dori Palmer from Wahpeton, N.D.:
When I was little, my mom taught English as a second language. Now in her 70s, she continues to teach. She has always had a heart for people who are new to our country. I’ve often wondered about the impact she has made on her students that she’ll never know. Sometimes all it takes is one person in our corner, believing in us, to set us on the right course. A young man named Fahad Turki sent me an email recently that touched my heart. It was in his English classroom that he found someone determined to make a difference in his life.
FARGO -- You know what’s better than one third-grade boy in the back seat of your car? Three third-grade boys in the back seat of your car. In the course of a 15-minute ride, my son Ben will ask at least 150 questions, including, “Mom, does Area 51 really exist?” “Mom, do you think there will be flying cars in my lifetime?” “Mom, are there fish in that pond?” Notice that every sentence starts with "Mom."
I often say I have the happiest email inbox in the world. Every once in a while, I’ll also get a handwritten letter in my real mailbox explaining how someone is adding light to the world through kindness. I’ve received the sweetest stories of kindness. Despite what you might see on the television, there is good in this world, no doubt about it. But there is also sadness.
Andy Smallman is a go-getter. He’s a teacher, and when he realized he didn’t like the way schools were educating students, he started a new one. It’s been up and running in Seattle since 1994. But Andy isn’t just a go-getter — he’s a go-giver, too. “Let me start by saying I've got this thing for the number 143 and have for years. It started many years ago after reading Tom Junod's brilliant article about Mister Rogers (yes, THAT Mister Rogers) that was published in Esquire magazine in 1998.