I always thought the word kind was a bit like the word nice, a bit of an anodyne platitude, a bit overused and, well, a bit dull.
A bit like writing a bit, a lot.
But the words kindness and being kind have been rattling around in my head recently. People have said to me, you’re using the word kindness on Sprout’s Facebook page and Instagram account, why is that. I didn’t know, but then the RSPCA launched a campaign centred on being kind to animals, so that resonated.
So that got me to thinking about people who have been kind to me, we’ll take family as a given, because I’ve been lucky enough to know nothing but kindness from mine. But what about the couple who gave me their old car when they replaced it, to help me get started with my business after I had decided to start again and basically give everything away (there’s a story for another day), or the couple who gave me some money to buy a van when I started getting busier. They wanted nothing in return except the knowledge that they had done a good deed.
There are a couple of customers who are also friends who show real kindness, they ask how things are going and seem genuinely interested when I tell them and offer really sound advice or a gentle kick up the backside.
Which brings me back to Lady Q, which is where my mind has been going for most of the last month. Her husband organised the most wonderful funeral and memorial service and got people to stand up and say how Lady Q had influenced their lives. There was a barrister, there was a Saturday girl from her bookshop, there was a PA from the school she had dramatically improved (she improved the school and improved the life of the PA) and there were family members, and they all kept coming back to the same glowing aspect of Lady Q’s character – her kindness and what she had done for them, without fanfare, without the need for thanks, and sometimes without even their knowledge.
Oh, I felt honoured when I got up to read my words from a previous blog. I had been kind to Lady Q, I had given her the garden she had always wanted, she loved what I had done, and everyone complimented me on the garden that looked fabulous for this weekend. I was kind.
And later, when it was just me and The Lord Chancellor, her husband John, having a quiet reflection on the day, I mentioned this quality she had for being kind without taking the plaudits or letting the person know.
He smiled, a tear trickled down his face and he said:
“She was brilliant wasn’t she, she even got our gardener his confidence back”.
“Really,” I replied, “was that when you lived in Surrey”.
“No, a bit more recently than that; do you remember a couple of years ago when you were having a torrid time at home trying to sort the future for The Girl Who Believes She Should Be Obeyed, and when you were really struggling with a customer that was bamboozling you with seemingly impossible demands”.
And then it all clicked into place, although Lady Q wanted the garden doing at some stage, it probably wasn’t then, but she saw a need and sorted it, she gave this gardener his confidence back by being kind.
That is the real definition of kindness, helping someone out, without expecting a thank you and letting them feel good about themselves.
So thank you, Lady Q, a bit (there it is again) belatedly.
You were and are, one of a kind.