How an act of kindness lives on

By Greg Nathan posted July 1, 2021

My father was a kind man. One day, on returning home from a hearing test, he seemed troubled. When my mother asked if he was okay, he started to cry. While conversing with the audiologist who had conducted the examination, she had told him how her son had recently died from leukemia. He was just 21 years old. The lady’s name was Boronia.

Being a talented artist, and someone who never resisted a generous impulse, when Boronia had shown my father a photo of her son, he asked to borrow it. Every morning for the next two weeks, dad carefully took the photo down to the art studio in the retirement village where he lived, and quietly worked away, gradually creating a beautiful portrait of the smiling young man. During their conversation, dad had also learned that Boronia’s son used to enjoy a beer after work, so he had cleverly inserted a glass of beer in his hand.

I remember dad showing me the painting with a sense of humble pride, as he and mum gently packaged it up with the photo to take to Boronia. When I next spoke to him and asked how she had reacted, he said, with a glint in his eye, that she had been overcome with tears of joy.

A few weeks later, my mum was sitting in the foyer of the retirement village chatting to some friends, when Boronia came through the front door looking a little apprehensive. She was holding a brown paper package. My mother stood up and approached her with a smile. “Boronia what are you doing here?"

Boronia was surprised but relieved to see my mother. “It is lovely to see you Shirley” she said. “Could you please give this to Victor”, and she gingerly held out the package. While my mother invited her to come up to the apartment and give it to him personally, she said she would prefer to just have my mum pass it on. After a short conversation and a hug, Boronia left.

When my father carefully unwrapped the package, it revealed a wonderful hand-knitted maroon pullover, thick and soft, with cables. My dad loved that pullover. After he passed away and we were packing up his belongings, I made a point of taking it home with me. That was 10 years ago and I still wear this pullover with love and pride, enjoying its warmth and the story behind it every time I pull it over my head. I am actually wearing it now as I reflect on these heartfelt acts of mutual kindness between a grieving mother and a kindly man.

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