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A parade of human kindness

Last year brought forth not only a killing pandemic but shined a light on the best and worst in all of us. We experienced it all, from the discord found in the political environment to the medical community’s united front.

The good, the bad, the love, and the hate, resided side by side. Neighbors, friends and family members fought over politics and who was right and who was wrong until there is now talk of another civil war. 

I am sure it will continue for a while because there is so much bitterness, but I witnessed something this weekend that renewed my faith in the best of humankind. Sometimes life unfolds to reveal a bit of healing and a glimmer of hope that appears divine.

Some people seem to love strife.

Some enjoy controversy and spread distrust to gain fame and fortune. Others put their fellow citizens in harm’s way to make a point or prove a theory or for power. Humans can become evil, malicious, and selfish, but that is not what I saw on the 2nd day of January 2021.

My friend turned a page on an age that day. Several years ago, when I turned her age, she, and a few other close friends, hosted a luncheon for me with family and friends.

Folks hugged, shared a meal, and laughter roared as they told old stories.  My friends went overboard, but I will always remember that wonderful day.

I never thought I would not be able to do the same for my pal on her birthday over three years later.

Two other friends and I tried to come up with safe ideas to celebrate this beloved woman.

Jan. 2 is not the best day for a birthday anyway, even when there is no pandemic.  No one gets their picture in the paper for being the first baby born on the day after New Year’s Day. Many times, one’s birthday presents combine with the Christmas gifts. Plus, folks are so tired by Jan. 2, they most certainly do not enjoy the idea of throwing a party.    

How could we safely celebrate a good friend who was born on the day after fireworks lit the sky without a festive, large gathering?

Of all the people I have known in my life, she is the one who seems to know everyone. I laugh at the number of friends she has. I could not keep up with them all if I tried, nor could I write that many Christmas cards. There is just something about her genuineness and kindness that draws one to her like a magnet.

She is far nicer than I am, but she hangs with me anyway, puts up with my rants, and forgives my many foibles. 

I have seen those car parades where people safely celebrate a birthday or a significant event during the pandemic, so we thought that might be a good idea. 

I am not sure how many people I emailed and told them to spread the word that on Jan. 2, 2021, there would be a surprise parade for Deborah.   

We did have the little luncheon with just the four of us, but we used a ruse to coax her outside the front of my house precisely at noon. 

Around the curve, my husband drove the lead in his bright red car topped with balloons, and when Deborah saw it, she looked puzzled.

As far as one could see, car after car rounded the curve. Many, adorned with more balloons and signs, held several passengers while countless horns blew as they inched closer. 

“What have you done?” Deborah shouted as she ran into the street. People presented her with cards, gifts, champagne, and air hugs as each one greeted their surprised friend. 

I watched as the smiling faces seemed to relish where they were, who they were celebrating, and the complete and utter joy of being a part of creating happiness for a person they loved.

Those who participated have differing beliefs, attitudes, and personalities, yet their diversity did not break their mutual bond of friendship.

Perhaps, we can avoid civil wars if we remember we find happiness when we unite to create joy for one another.

Jan. 2 became a day not many will forget, including the girl who said, “It was the best birthday ever!”

As for me, I was able to watch the light of human kindness shine on the best parade of my life.