Community Columns

Forward Living: Some heartwarming stories for a change


We’re bombarded daily with disturbing news. The newspapers and TV news programs are full of stuff that sends us reeling. We’re slammed with tragic stories about missing planes, mudslides, kids being shot to death for playing loud music and other senseless killings. Home invasions and robberies are commonplace, drugs are rampant and we have a Congress that acts like babies in dirty diapers. Whew! 

We’re so saturated with these stories that we may become immune to the good stuff that happens daily. Well, folks, today is your lucky day. I’m gonna tell you some heart-warming stories — guaranteed to make you feel good. (OK, at least they will mitigate some of the bad stuff.)

I was waiting to be seen by my physician when I heard this incredible account from his practice administrator. A patient, who today is cancer-free, was genuinely grateful to said physician for his guidance and care. The patient held the physician in such high esteem that through a lawyer she established a fund for indigent patients who couldn’t pay their balances or co-payments. Imagine? Other cancer survivors, after hearing good news, might spend their money on a whirlwind vacation.

While I’m on the subject of medicine, Doctors Without Borders is an international humanitarian organization working in more than 60 countries to assist people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect or catastrophe. I’m honored to know a couple of dedicated physicians who took a hiatus from their busy practices to donate their time and medical expertise to minister to those in need.

During the last stages of Frank’s illness, I rarely slept and my fingernails were bitten down to the quick. When my family arrived for his funeral they urged me to get a manicure — something I’d done on a regular basis.

Arriving at the nail salon, I was wrapped in tender hugs and gentle murmurs. Despite the language barrier, our hearts understood the language of loss. I was ushered to a chair. The owner gave me a manicure while another nail technician massaged my neck and shoulders. When it was time to pay, the owner said, “Today, no pay.”

Remembering that act of loving-kindness, I decided to pay it forward. I’ve befriended a young woman who works hard by day and attends college at night. She doesn’t have the means to pamper herself. Sometimes I drive her to Riverhead to catch the bus. One day, I picked her up early and asked if she could accompany me on an errand. Surprising her, I took her to the nail salon for a manicure. I informed the owner, “Today, I pay!”

While waiting on line at the supermarket, a young gal with two toddlers and a baby caused quite a stir. The baby was crying while the mom was trying to dole out enough money to pay for the groceries. She was short $2.85. I instinctively gave her three bucks to cover the bill; the man standing behind opened me his wallet and paid her whole bill!

Recently, I called a plumber to fix a toilet that wasn’t running properly. After he was finished, I asked what I owed. He said, “Nothing, it was a small job.” I was taken aback and felt tears sting my eyes. I stopped short of hugging him — you know: strange man, broad daylight, widow gal. The neighbors would have a field day!

Mark Twain wrote: “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” How true. Call it what you will — altruism, other-centeredness or paying it forward. These practices have a common denominator: Love and concern for the welfare of others, without any expectation or benefit. And, funny thing, the getting usually takes care of itself.

Folks, any act of loving-kindness can transform a moment, a day or a person. The kindness of the plumber made my day — although in this case, I know zilch about plumbing and paying it forward might cause more harm than good!

IannelliMs. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.