June 5, 2012: Gratitude

          Late this afternoon, I eavesdropped on two nice old ladies at a local café. They were carping to one another about “what’s wrong with this world,” and at one point one of them said to the other, “I just don’t know what it would take to make the world a better place.”

          I wanted to lean over and say to them, “I do. More Lilia Menconi.”

          My friend Lilia is a magnificent creature—and I thought so long before she emailed to ask if she could come hang out with my mom and dad sometimes.

          “What if I came over to your parents’ house every couple of weeks and played gin rummy with your mom?” she wrote. “I think it would be something nice to do…and perhaps it would let you disappear into another room and get some of your own stuff done.”

     My parents have eight grandchildren who live in town who’ve never offered half as much.

     I wanted to write back, “No, listen, Lilia, that’s nice, but you’re busy. You just started your own business and you’re newly married and you’re settling into a new house.” But then it occurred to me that I should, as Tevye’s always saying, “Just say yes and let people help you.”

     Lilia came over to my parents’ house today for the first time. She looked them both in the eye and shook their hands when she introduced herself. She called them by their first names and listened when they spoke and treated them like people, rather than like old people. She played cards with my mother and asked her questions about her sisters and explained what she does for a living. She drove way across town in the middle of her workday because she wanted to spend some time with my mom.

     And when Lilia wrote about the experience in her own blog later that day, she never once patted herself on the back for being kindhearted or generous. It was just, “I worked really hard this morning and then I went and played cards with my new girlfriend.”

     After Lilia left, Mom couldn’t stop talking about her. “Who was that nice girl?” she asked, a half-dozen times.

     “That was Lilia Menconi, Mom. We used to work together at the newspaper.”

     “Is she Italian?”

     “Yes. Mostly.”

     “I liked her. Why did she want to come over here?”

     “Because she’s awful nice, Mom.”

     It was hard to hold back tears.

Thing I Hate Today: Stale scones


4 Responses

  1. That was what we call an act of seva. Selfless service.

  2. Thanks for this entry. Not only has LIliad blessed your mom, but also me from hearing about her.

  3. Three people benefitted from this beautiful act of kindness!

  4. I would say four. That is just the sweetest thing. While I do not know Lillia – I can see she has a beautiful heart – beautiful inside and out! What a great friend and person!

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