Pinky Pie

Kindness: Pass It on & Me

Posted on: December 2, 2010

Stop me if you read or heard this before.

A migrant worker is not keeping up with the amount of peas that he was harvesting and was at risk of being fired a job that gave him his meager of income.

Another worker noticed, picked a hat full of peas and handed it to the other person.

“But how will I ever repay you?” the very grateful recipient said.

“You don’t,” the giver said. “You pick a cap of peas for someone else.”

That’s how I felt Wednesday when I spent the day with a friend who received her first chemo treatment for breast cancer.

I don’t write this because I deserve any praise. I was the recipient of so much kindness during my treatment that I feel it is my turn to pass on the proverbial cap of peas.

It’s also about the potential for all of us to find some good in the most difficult situations and to do some good for others.

I met this friend of mine when she was an intern at the La Crosse Tribune one summer. Later she and her husband lived in Iowa, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania. We visited them in each place, except for Pennsylvania. They now live in Winona, Wisconsin, about 30 miles from La Crosse.

She was always much, much better at keeping in touch than me. She sent out Christmas letters filled with what her family was doing. I am a slacker.

We shared another sorrow – she lost a son to cancer as I did years ago. I remember a time before cancer in our kids that they came to see us and got stuck in a big snowstorm. To entertain the then five kids, we made pudding for them to finger paint with on our table. Frankly, I’d love to do that again.

She called the day her breast cancer was diagnosed and we have talked and walked much since. I have said many times that misery does not love company in breast cancer, but I’m there to help.

Yesterday was a long day and she did great. We laughed and talked and had lunch together. I drove her home, stayed a while and left just before her husband got home.

My friend called me later to say she had thrown up. I had told her I threw up only once, that first day, because I had taken a pain pill without food.

When she called, she was on her way to get a better anti-nausea drug that is not the first line of defense but all of us who have gone through it soon find it to be the most effective.

We are very lucky to live in an age of great anti-nausea drugs, great cancer treatments and great friendships.

I wrote two books a few years ago about living with childhood cancer – one for the kids and one for the parents. In it, many of the kids talked about the good that came from cancer, not that they would have chosen that path.

The good includes a reminder about the kindnesses of families, friends and even strangers. And in my case, I grew to be a stronger, more self-confident person. And then there is that rekindling of a long ago friendship.

So let me close with three Anne Frank quotes from her diary:

1. “No one has ever become poor by giving.

2. “Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!

3. “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.

(More Anne Frank quotes at


1 Response to "Kindness: Pass It on & Me"

Thank for these wonderful comments. If you are not a saint, you are close. God bless you. What happened to the two books you wrote? I am Sue Knopf’s good friend. {{{{{Jerry}}}}}

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