It seems like yesterday when I was standing in my parents’ kitchen and the phone was ringing.

Back in those days, we only had one phone and it hung in the kitchen.

We knew who was calling. It was pretty much the same time, every day, when our aunt called.

I’d yell to my sister, “You answer it!’

She’d respond, “You’re closest!”

By the fourth ring I could tell my sister was not going to answer the phone. So I did.

“Hi, Aunt Betty, how are you?”

Aunt Betty pretty much said the same thing, in the same order, every day of every week, ending with the same phrase, “All righty, bye-bye.”

In fact, when the phone rang, and we knew it was Aunt Betty, my sisters would look at each other, before answering, and say, “All righty, bye-bye.”

We knew who was calling.

However, one of us would always answer the phone, because that was what we were taught to do.

Aunt Betty was my father’s oldest sibling. She had five children. She lost her first husband, Ed, to a blood clot while the children were young.

Aunt Betty was the nicest of nice. She and her family struggled. They were poor and moved a lot.

Although, Aunt Betty would give you the shirt off her back if you needed it.

She embodied the word "kindness."

Anyway, every morning, when Aunt Betty called to speak to my dad (and

he was always at work), she’d ask us the same thing, “which one are you,” “how are you doing,” “how is school,” "how’s your mom,” and “where is your dad.”

I could tell she was smiling. I could also feel that she cared.

Boy, I’d give a hundred dollars if Aunt Betty called me today.

The topic today is kindness. I looked up the etymology of kindness. I like to know the origin of a word, before I write about it. In nearly every dictionary or site, kindness is related to “kin.”

To treat someone with kindness is to treat someone, as if they are a relative. Now, I have an important question.

Why the heck do we sometimes treat our family members the worst?

We should never treat our loved ones less kindly than we do strangers. But the reality is that we often do.

My suggestion: Don’t. Be loyal to your family. Be faithful. Support them during the lows. Smile when they achieve. Think the best. Help them, when they need it.

Keep in mind, William Arthur Ward’s counsel. “When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.”

Henry James stated, “Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”

So what does being kindness mean to you?

To me, it means, “All righty, bye-bye.”

 

-- Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County’s Family Week Foundation. Email her at director@jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org or visit www.jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org .