Only the good stuff today.

I was flicking through a book of writing prompts by the Daily Post a couple of weeks ago. I hit the prompt for March 28 and I stopped. It asked:

We cry for lots of reasons: sadness, pain, fear…and happiness. When was the last time you shed tears of joy?

Search on the internet and you will see people weeping tears of joy for all sorts of things. From a new pair of shoes to a request from a foster child asking their carers to adopt them.

Powerful things, tears.

There is something contagious about them. I feel it when I see it. Whether it’s because of pain or happiness, it’s hard not to be moved when others are moved.

I can pinpoint the last time I shed tears of joy. It was October 2018. I was listening to a story about nine women and their pound cake drive-bys they kept secret for three decades.

I was at a public lecture by author and speaker, Ann Voskamp. She was talking about the transformation that occurs when we accept we are loved by the creator of the universe. How that compels us all to build longer tables to invite more people into our lives.

Towards the end of her talk she starts telling a story about Mamaw Ruth, her pound cake and how a simple act of care inspired the next generation of women to get together at 4am to spread a little happiness in their community.

Featured image by Suhyeon Choi on Unsplash

It all started when a group of nine “sisters” came together to play bridge somewhere in West Tennessee. They told stories of how their Mamaw Ruth would read the obituaries and cook a pound cake for the bereaved family to let them know someone cared. She didn’t have to know them personally.

As they reminisced, the women started dreaming of how they could make a difference if they had a million dollars.

The fact they didn’t have a million dollars didn’t stop them.

They started brainstorming ideas and realised they had the month’s laundry money they could save. Between the nine of them, they pooled about $400 a month to put towards this secret plan.

Then these women started eavesdropping. Those Nine Nanas would listen to conversations in beauty parlours or at the grocery store. And when they heard about a widow or a single mum who needed help, they’d step in and anonymously pay a utility bill or buy some new clothes for the children.

If you have time today, I encourage you to read their story in the Huffington Post. It’s six years old, but moved me to tears when I heard it for the first time.

As Ann states on her blog about these women:

Those Nanas would ferret out where that hurting person lived and send a package with a note that simply read, ‘Somebody loves you’ —- and the love they sent always had to come with one of MaMaw Ruth’s special pound cakes.

In the middle of the darkest night, love is always coming for you.

In the middle of the pitch black night, those Nine Nanas drove slow through neighbourhoods looking for fans stuck in windows.

“That told us that the people who live there? Don’t have air-conditioning,” Mary Ellen said.

“Or we see that there are no lights on at night, which means there is a good chance their utilities have been turned off. Then we return before the sun came up, like cat burglars, and drop off a little care package.”

As their stories unfolded, I could not help weeping at their love and commitment to strangers who live around them who are going through a difficult time. Their desire to care for the hurt and vulnerable was a beautiful and joyous thing.

Their story shows me that, at the end of the day, life isn’t about the big pay cheques, the toys or accolades we amass before we die. It’s what we do with the time we’re given to make a difference.

We don’t need a lot of money to do that. Just a bit of love. And that is a beautiful thing.

It is something that can leave a short dumpy Asian woman ugly crying in an auditorium full of strangers at the sheer joy of it.

When was the last time you shed tears of joy? Do you remember?

8 Comments

  1. Perfect! A timely alternative to my (affectively numbed) attitude. But it made me smile. The recently passed Thai King, Bhumibol Adulyadej, once praised the social value of such acts during a speech in 1996, saying that, “A good person can make another person good; it means that goodness will elicit goodness in the society; other persons will also be good… So there is hope for a bright future. The important thing is that the individuals in this society must be resolute in their goodness.” 🙂

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  2. I can’t even read about you crying without tearing up! I’m generally a crying mess. I nearly cried last night when we got our first snow–thank goodness!–of the season, which reminds me of home and hushes our crazy busy lives. Now, my boys are playing in it and I’m warm inside and joyful! I love your stories of generosity. Those Nanas–how wonderful. Funny, we have a tightknit community, and our lovely neighbor with a snowblower was up doing our driveway this morning–right after his and even before his cousin’s, who lives next door! And it’s not as yummy as pound cake but I got two little loaves of my zucchini bread out of the freezer as thanks. Truly, it’s the little things that spread the joy! Hope you’re having a wonderful day!

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    1. That is wonderful Rebecca! I agree. It’s the small kindnesses and blessings that make our day. Thank you for sharing a little bit of your life on your side of the world. It made me smile!

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