We came through the door last night at 6:30, right at dinner time, and collapsed into the front room. Well, collapsed after the luggage had been brought in, my wheelchair put into place, our housecoats found and put on, and drinks acquired. Our trip home had been flawless, not a single problem of any kind. Our trip overall was memorable.
At the conference I was honoured to receive the Frank J. Menolascino Award for Excellencefrom the National Association for the Dually Diagnosed. I had been informed that I was to receive the award a couple weeks before the conference and was surprised that I'd been nominated and selected.
For those who don't know his work Dr. Menolascino was a giant in the field of intellectual disabilities and his list of achievements is long. But for me, I remember Frank because there was a moment when he offered me a kindness, that only he could have offered, in a moment where I truly needed the gift. My mind knows that Frank made a huge contribution to the field of Dual Diagnosis but my heart knows him as a kind and generous man.
We make much of, and we should, the idea of 'random acts of kindness' ... I love the idea of just doing something nice for some random someone. But, it's a bit easier to do a no-strings kindness to someone who's a stranger, someone you won't see again. There is another kind of kindness:
Specific, targeted kindness, in a time of need for someone in your life, that only you can give. It's acronym is STK()TOYCG. These are more difficult, aren't they. Kindnesses, within relationships, can be seen very differently, motives can be questions, debts can be felt - in either direction. Kindness, within relationships, involves risk. I have seen kindness offered from one spouse to another, in a moment of need and vulnerability, be swatted away with anger and hurt. I have seen the desire to do kindness die.
There are moments when Joe is tremendously kind to me. Accepting this kindness, in a moment of vulnerability, is really, really, hard. But I know that rejecting it is dangerous, I may need it again. Later, when the emotion is gone, I know that Joe's kindness was just kindness, it wasn't a statement about me, my disability or my fragility. It was just a STK()TOHCG.
And that's what Frank did for me. I am probably still a speaker and presenter because of Frank. I needed something from him and though it was hard to accept at the time, and though I felt diminished, not because of how he did what he did but because of how I felt about needing something from him. Later I was to realize that I wasn't diminished, I'd been made stronger.
Next time you do a random act of kindness, think about maybe the STK()TOYCG's that come you way. In the end, the real end, it may be what you would like to be remembered for.