I originally wrote this story in my journal in 2016; it is one of my favorite memories. Its sentiment is timeless, a reminder of how a random act of kindness can profoundly impact another.
Kindness is a gift that keeps on giving, even years after the fact. My Father in Law’s kindness to me on that July evening will never be forgotten.
I hope all of us get to receive- and give– this gift in abundance as we head into 2021.
It has been 3.5 years since Dad passed away. He’s been on my mind a lot lately, sometimes several times a day. Perhaps it’s his upcoming birthday? I’ve learned that one does not “get over” someone they love passing away. At best, they might “get used” to that loved one no longer being there, but I think even that is a stretch. I am not sure where I am with it all as my feelings seem to come and go and change along the way. The crushing grief and daily tears have finally passed. Now, when I think about Dad, my thoughts are gentle reminders of good times or happy memories. There is still grief, though not as much as before. Lately, I have been feeling loneliness in my heart for Dad, if that makes sense. I miss him terribly.
We are on a family vacation celebrating my in-laws 60th wedding anniversary. This amazing cabin we are staying in has, for want of a better description, a deer sanctuary attached to it. The entire backyard area is comprised of a pond and land that several deer call home.
I have never been this close to a deer before. All my knowledge of deer could be written on a postage stamp; I have only viewed them through the photos of a magazine. They appear to be gentle and graceful creatures, living in community with one another. They are very peaceful to watch. There is one deer in particular that my son has dubbed “Butterbean”. I have no idea why he chose that name but it seems to fit. He nicknames all the animals he cares for. Our dogs have been named “Ben”, “Sunny”, “Addy” and “Loki”, but he called them “Scruffles”, “Mr. Muffins”, “Sweet Pea”, and “Chompers” instead.
Anyway, I present “Butterbean”:
Butterbean is not like the other deer. She’s friendlier than the others, always coming close for petting or for treats and her coat has the white tufts as seen in the photo. She also seems older than the rest of the herd and she walks with a limp. She’s not perfect, so to me she’s all the more sweet. She has tugged at my heartstrings and endeared herself to many of us at the cabin.
So, this evening we went out to dinner to celebrate the anniversary and when we returned home, I went downstairs to our room to change. Our room was on the lower level, so after changing, I stepped out of the lower door to watch the deer. And I encounter my Father-in-Law, Keith.
He was standing at the fence by himself with a green apple and Butterbean was right there with him. I walked over to see what was going on and he was slicing the apple and giving the pieces to Butterbean. As I walked up, he didn’t say anything, but he began giving me the slices of apple to give to Butterbean instead. She seemed to me to be sparkling with joy. I can’t imagine how good a green apple must taste when most of your diet consists of grass! Standing there with Keith feeding Butterbean slices of green apple was an amazing experience. Something so simple to one person can have such a profound effect on another. It certainly did on me.
We talked quietly about the deer as he used his pocketknife to cut off slivers of the green apple and handed them to me. Butterbean was poking her head through the fence as I held them out to her. She would snuffle them up out of my hand, her lips tickling my palm. I stroked her head and muzzle and told her how cute she was as we both waited for the next piece of tart apple. As Keith answered my questions about the deer, and we stood there together and fed Butterbean, that lonely place in my heart began to fill up with comfort with this “Dad experience”. My only wish at that time was for a bigger apple in order to prolong the moment.
While feeding deer is not something I would have likely experienced with my Dad, the sentiment was the same. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a father-daughter type moment. Keith has treated me as a daughter for as long as I can remember and sharing that experience with him and Butterbean was priceless. It came at just the right moment, to give my heart a little joy to help fill up that lonely place. A moment orchestrated by God as the timing was perfect in all regards. We didn’t make plans to meet at the fence to feed Butterbean in the quiet of the evening, but it happened. I am thankful.
We were there to celebrate a 60th anniversary, but it feels like I am the one who received the gift.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”St. Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”St. Paul, an Apostle through Jesus Christ and God the Father, Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)