Elle Burton has a “Kind Heart.”
The message of my fantasy series about Elle Burton’s journey to adulthood centers around the importance of helping children develop a “caring and kind heart”. Kindness matters today, more than at any other time in the history of this great nation. So, as we wrap up the Blog tour this week I want to talk to you about why it’s so important to Elle to be kind.
It was nearly four years ago when I started writing the book series.
I live with Elle every day and am often surprised by the direction she takes me in the series.
There is one message that permeates everything Elle does. Her message of having a kind heart allows children to be of great comfort and help to others. Our only hope for a peaceful world is to promote kindness with everyone we meet. Our best ambassadors are our children.
Back to the Beginning:
I remember a day back in the 1970’s when I spent some time alone with my grandmother.
She shared with me how cruel the aging process can be and how “childlike” she was beginning to feel.
I learned in some detail how her bodily movements were no longer fluid. They had become clumsy like a toddler who hasn’t yet learned to move gracefully.
Grandma worried she might one day have to wear diapers again as she did when she was an infant. Losing control of her bodily functions frightened her.
As I listened to her, I began to understand that the aging process naturally brings a person back to the doubts and lack of abilities we all experience when we are quite young. I vowed to show her more kindness and compassion as I helped her maneuver through the roadblocks that challenged her daily activities.
Grandma Showed Kindness Every Day
Grandma was the one who taught me to play canasta. She’d get right down on the floor with me to play when I was little. I heard her knees crack, and I never thought anything about it.
Each summer when I was growing up, I was allowed to spend a week with her in Ottumwa, Iowa. It was the best week of the entire school vacation. She cooked my favorite foods, took me to the big Younker’s store there to shop, and made certain my visit coincided with the week the circus came to town.
Grandma Burton never raised her voice or her hand to me. She was the kindest person I knew, next to her husband.
Dementia Changes Everything
Grandma died many years ago. I miss her dearly. Her youngest child became my responsibility when her husband died. They had no children, and she had no one but me to care for her.
Unfortunately, she suffered from dementia. As is so common for people with dementia, she began to be quite cranky. There were days when it seemed like her primary goal was to make me feel guilty and miserable as a human being. It was obvious she wanted me to show her more attention than anyone else in the family. She desperately needed to be my top priority.
We moved to Wisconsin before her dementia diagnosis. The move made it more difficult to help as her health declined. Eventually, she was forced to move from her apartment to an assisted living facility. I drove to Minneapolis weekly to see her and brought her to stay at our home at least one week each month.
I tried to make her comfortable and happy, but she wasn’t enjoying much of anything in life. We hired a wonderful young woman to help her for the immediate needs I couldn’t get to, living an hour and a half away.
We were on vacation two years ago when I received a call from her.
She sounded stronger than I’d heard her for a long time.
Someone Took the Time to Show Kindness
I could imagine the enormous smile on her face as she described the new nurse who came to visit her. She shared with me how “gentle” the woman was when she helped her put on her socks:
“She didn’t ‘yank’ them up!”
My aunt described how the newest nurse gave her the confidence to use her walker to get to the bathroom: “She didn’t just shove me in there in the wheelchair and then leave me on the toilet, with no idea if I could get up again.”
This frightened shell of the woman I once knew went on and on about how kind and gentle the new aide was.
Wow! Isn’t that exactly the lesson we want our children to learn? Don’t we want them to treat everyone with kindness, especially our seniors?
Children Learn By Example
Kindness is not a lesson; it’s a way of life. Fewer people suffer in a society that places compassion at the top of the priority list. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of all the hatred and yelling that’s going on today.
I’m not more perfect than you are. There were so many times I wanted to yell back at my aunt. I needed to tell her she was mean and unreasonable. But, I always stopped myself. She wasn’t responsible for the things she was screaming at me. Are you able to control your anger when you’re being treated unreasonably?
I’m sure you’ve known someone like my aunt too; someone who forced you to use every ounce of strength in your body to keep a smile on your face. Someone who did nothing to deserve the smile you gave them.
It’s not easy to be kind to everyone. Some people are just naturally difficult to deal with, but that shouldn’t be the force that drives us.
We are intelligent and good-hearted. Kindness shouldn’t have to be a choice. It should be a way of life. Everyone needs to step back and take a deep breath before responding to anyone in a rotten mood. I’ve learned in this mixed-up world that if you can’t be kind to others you typically can’t be kind to yourself and that truly does matter.
A RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS
My youngest son just got engaged. I’m delighted for him and his future wife. Of everyone in the family, he’s the most like my Grandpa Burton. His heart is huge and he’s one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. So I have a challenge for you today. I want you to perform a “Random Act of Kindness” in the next couple of days. Come back here and use the comments to share what you did. That would be the greatest wedding gift ever for this young man!
Thank you for giving Kindness a boost for Bill’s sake!
Author: Peggy M McAloon
Be Safe. Be Loved. Pass It On!