Updated: Mar 7
Hello and welcome to day 60. Today will be a bit of a different kind of post as I highlight a legacy of Kindness...
A Kindness Legacy
When I think about Kindness there is so much that comes to mind. Today I was reminded of someone special and close to my heart, someone who has left a kindness legacy in my life and in the life of so many others and I think it’s worth discussing a bit more.
Kindness is something I think we are all born with, some have a more innate ability to be kind and some have to work at it bit by bit. There is nothing wrong with being someone who slowly cultivates their ability to be kind, Mr Rogers was quoted (that is if the movie was accurate) as having quite a bit of anger inside of him and every day he would make the choice to cultivate the kindness in his heart and let the anger go.
I have been taught kindness by many people in my life, but one of the people who will forever be associated with the term, and the person I want to discuss today, is my grandfather, George Lemaire. He is someone who was both innately kind and someone who taught me how cultivate kindness over anger and fear.
Even with him being gone to the other side, I still feel his kindness legacy daily. Today is one example. My mother shared a post about teachers and how teachers put so much of their money into classrooms (See image below). She mentioned my sister who a prime example of a teacher who puts a lot of herself and her hard earned money back into the classroom. I wanted to add my two cents and as I hovered over the comment section I knew exactly what I wanted to write.
“My Grandfather was a gym teacher, he spent their family’s very limited money on buying lunch for kids in need and on training and equipment for them. What this picture represents is not a new thing, Teachers need to be recognized and praised.”
There he was again, my grandfather, reminding me of the power of kindness.
When I was younger, I would walk in a Walmart or a Tim Hortons (one of my grandparent’s favorite places) and it was rare someone wouldn’t come up and say hi. When he passed babies and gave them his infectious smile, both mother and baby would smile back.
Many times when I was in public with him, old students, many whom now had children of their own, would stop and say; “Mr. Lemaire, you honestly helped me so much back then…” or “Mr. Lemaire! Hello! Do you remember me from 40 years ago?”
Did my grandfather do something extraordinary to help these people? In some ways yes, because every act of kindness, no matter how small, is extraordinary on its own. But in many ways, what he did was not hard. He just did small positive and kind actions to make the kid’s days a bit better, small acts which when added all together made a huge difference.
My grandfather was not a saint, like Mr Rogers he had those moments when anger took over. My dad talks about getting a good whooping when he was younger (which was a total normal thing back then before anyone gets upset) but my grandfather always strived to be kind.
When he got older, my grandfather got Alzheimer's. Many people with this disease can become violent, but my grandfather did not. He got upset now and then but even when he could no longer talk and didn’t recognize me, his sons or even his wife, he would still greet everyone with a smile.
Here is an example of one of his “violent” outburst when he had Alzheimer's to give you an idea of what type of man he was.
One day my grandmother was watching TV with him in the earlier stages of the disease. Everything was going well. His favorite cowboy movies were playing and then suddenly on the screen a woman was screaming as a cowboy villain took her away. My grandfather jumped up on his feet and charged at the TV to save her. He almost broke the TV before my grandmother brought him back to the moment at hand.
I used to think all my memories of him where shadowed by who he was in the last 10+ years of his life changed by the progressing disease, but as I write this, I realize that is not true. I realize that what I remember and feel the most when I think about him is his legacy of kindness. When I think of him, I don’t think Alzheimer's, I think of his smile and the impact he had on me and those around him.
My grandfather wasn’t famous, he wasn’t known far and wide, but the legacy he left, that’s the kind of legacy I want to leave. His wasn’t a legacy which made the news. It wasn’t a legacy which trended on social media. His was a legacy that filled an overcrowded room with friends and family wanting to pay their final respects. It was a legacy which turned a funeral, a somber occasion, into a celebration of life where everyone burst into a happy song in his memory.
His is a legacy which has no real end. My grandfather’s legacy of kindness was passed on to my dad and his brothers, and my dad passed it on to me. I do my best to pass it on to everyone I meet, in the hope that those people pass it on to people in their life and so on it goes.
The beauty with this never-ending legacy is that it leaves behind a ripple effect of happy smiles and touched hearts. Such a legacy will continue in one way or another, as long as humans walk the earth. This is why I think kindness can change the world. Kindness doesn’t die. When an act of kindness is completed it the positive feeling stays with the person who received it is shared with someone else who continues this chain with no end.
When I was younger, I used to think I needed my name in the history books in order to prove that I had a life well lived. In today’s media heavy world, this is a common enough thought. I've now realized that is not true. To have a life well lived, all I need to do is to be kind. Because a life of kindness is never wasted. A life of kindness will be passed on forever, even when our century’s story is lost to the passing of time.
I know there are other people in the world like my grandfather. People who lived and passed on a legacy of kindness. There are people right now who are spreading a similar legacy by their actions and their words.
We need more people who follow in the footsteps of my grandfather. We need more people to leave those same kind of legacies behind when their time comes to pass on to the next world so that this chain of kindness grows bigger and stronger.
So, to finish this post, I want to call out to all of you reading this post to be kind to others. And if you know someone who is spreading and nurturing kindness in the world, please feel free to nominate them to be featured on this website.
Together we can create a better world filled with kindness so that kindness prevails over fear or hatred.
Love and light you all and until tomorrow.
***All kindness post can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org