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I still listen for weather reports. The first post I wrote for this blog was full of them. I noticed these weather predictions in the local newspaper recently: “Partly cloudy,” “Thunderstorms possible,” “Episodes of sunshine.” I began thinking about some of those “episodes of sunshine” in my life.

A writer in one of my writing groups shared a piece she had written about seeing a large billboard as she drove: BE KIND, it said. That’s all she saw, just those two words. She said it turned her whole day around. When she shared her writing with our group, I heard it and silently vowed to make it my own attitude toward others and myself. A few others beat me to it.

Recently I had a birthday. Kindnesses from family and friends and some strangers brought the billboard again to mind. As the milestone birthday approached, I remembered the last birthday I marked with my daughter before her death, and I thought of the birthday (her sixteenth) that she missed celebrating.

A few days before this year’s birthday, I went to a local winery with a friend and enjoyed tasting the fruits of the vineyards, watching animals on the farm (including some chickens and roosters who reminded me of a few humans I know and my own behavior, chicken dancing notwithstanding).

My friend and I sat in rocking chairs on the porch to finish our wine and some fruit and cheese. It was a delightful afternoon. Nearby we noticed a family of four that included two small children. The children were singing their personalized version of “Happy Birthday.” (I would include the words here–the song has just recently come into the public domain–but I am sure you know them already.) When my friend and I commented on the sweet singing, the parents explained that it was not their birthdays but that the children just loved to sing the song. One of us mentioned that it was indeed my birthday and the song was much appreciated even if it was not intended for me.

My friend and I continued our conversation and when the young family left, the two children came up to the porch and said, “Happy birthday!” My heart was warmed. As it was time for the winery to close for the day, we prepared to leave just as a person from the winery brought out a bag with exactly the wine I had favorited in the tasting. “I understand you are having a birthday,” she said. “The family who just left wanted you to have this.” The family’s car left puffs of red dust behind as they drove down the country lane.

So, here is my thank you for the surprise gifts, and for your presence of kindness, for this special episode of sunshine on a summer’s day.

 

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