My friend Anne doesn’t ‘do’ computers. But no hurdle is high enough to stand in Anne’s way; the one she cleared Sunday evening — of tracking down her long lost friend ‘me’ — took over three months and help from her husband and oldest daughter.
It had been twenty-four years since Anne and I had talked. And before that, ten. Two conversations in the space of thirty-four years is scary witness of the fragility of personal relationships. Once a close friend, Ann served as one of my three bridesmaids; she was a staple of high school years, though seeds of friendship were first sown in the sixth grade Camp Fire group which my mother led. I had forgotten this last connection until Anne reminded me of it Sunday night. But, of course, the intervening years and physical distance lulled me into forgetting something more important.
While I was forgetting, Anne has been in the business of making connections. That’s how Anne approaches each day — she wakes up and says out loud to God, “Okay God, what are we going to do together today?” I’m not kidding. And I don’t think Anne is either. Because Anne lives her life doing one good deed after another.
Anne littered our two-hour conversation with evidence, though not to make a case. She talked in the matter-of-fact way of catching me up on the last 34 years of her life. Until recently, Anne devoted herself to the care of an elderly woman. They had no ties to one another, but a tie was built, as the eighty-year old grew to depend upon Anne’s time.
As I write, Ann has a young mother and an infant living with her — Anne offers free care to the infant so that the young mother can work. And there have been eleven other people before this, people who needed a helping hand and a place to call home.
A few weeks ago Anne ran into a woman in K-Mart, while picking up some little item. She noticed a customer with a shopping cart full of household goods. The cart proved catalyst for good conversation — one sentence led to another before the woman told Anne she was new in town, that she was buying the household items due to her recent move. A veteran of twelve moves herself, Anne convinced her fellow K-Mart shopper to empty her cart of those items which Anne had at home — then the woman allowed her daughter go with Anne (the stranger) to Anne’s house, so that the woman’s daughter could bring back Anne’s offering.
Anne makes light of the way she lives. But after our conversation, I began to wonder: What would the world come to if we had more Anne’s — if we had more strangers — or even close friends and family — like Anne? It was news of Daddy’s death which caused Anne to overcome the hurdle Sunday night. She tracked me down because she had read of Daddy’s death and wanted to let me know how very sorry she was. When she heard the news about Mother, she let me know how she had loved spending time at my house growing up, how Mom and our house had been her refuge.
All that to say this: We can never know how our lives will impact another — for good or ill. Nor do we realize the incredible power we hold to do good for each other. And even when aware of the simple good we do — like making others feel welcome in our home as Mother did — even then, we can’t fully appreciate the good that will someday grow from our own.
Good ripples through life, without boundaries. Good overcomes hurdles. Good even sneaks up to catch us unaware — only after we broke our connection Sunday evening did I realize… that I had been Anne’s good deed for the day.