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Look carefully...at the seemingly small moments...in the constant shaping of souls.- Neal A.Maxwell

     My brother had his hip replaced.  I went down to the San Diego area to be with him the first 10 days post surgery.  Someone commented that it was nice I could do that.  "Nice" is not adequate in describing the many kindnesses surrounding the time spent with my brother.
     I had not flown since the day I walked off the plane when mom was ill.  Flying was the best way for me to get to San Diego but I was nervous.  My husband took the day off work, flew down with me and then turned around and flew back home to be with the boys.  My brother's co-worker met me at the airport, drove me to Santee (where my brother lives), took me to the grocery store, gave me a general layout of the town and then took me to my brother's home.  The same co-worker picked me up at 5am to drive me to the San Diego train station the morning I left to go back home.
     Prior to my arrival my brother had mailed me an information packet that contained a house key, an aerial map of the area, directions to points of interest and the location of his truck keys, debit card (and pin), cash and phone numbers of people I could contact if needed.
     I picked my brother up from the hospital in his pick-up.  I could tell he was in pain from the beads of sweat on his forehead and upper-lip but certainly not from his attitude.  I am not used to driving a pick-up and was a little rough on some of my gear changes.  My brother did not say a negative word - either about his pain or his truck.  Once home he had to walk up a flight of stairs to get to where his room and bathroom are.  Again, beads of sweat but no complaints. 
     A few days after my brother arrived home we picked his Jack Russell, Ricky, up from the kennel. Ricky was SO happy to see my brother, he did not want to leave his side.  He was willing to come with me to go potty but then wanted to go right back to my brother.  On the third day of having the dog back Ricky was attacked by a very large, very muscular dog during the time I was out with him.  The big dog had Ricky pinned to the ground with his front paws and was biting at his stomach.  I was screaming "STOP" and pulling Ricky's leash in to me.  It was horrifying, I seriously thought Ricky was going to be killed.  When I had Ricky in my arms and the big dog was contained I ran up to my brother and asked him to look at his dog to make sure he was okay.  As my brother was inspecting Ricky I noticed blood dripping onto my brother's leg.  I saw the big dog's owner standing on the sidewalk below my brother's looking around.  I ran out to her and said, "I am so mad, I can't even tell you how mad I am that your dog was not leashed."  She apologized profusely and said that she went looking for me as soon as she could.  She asked if she could see my dog.  I told her he wasn't mine but I would see what my brother wanted.  I invited her in and went up to my brother.  He was calm.  He told me to bring Ricky down.  He followed with his walker.  The girl was shaking.  I was shaking.  Neither of us had recovered from watching the attack.  The owner apologized again and again.  She looked at Ricky's stomach, which surprising only had one tooth mark.  She offered to drive him to the vet.  She offered to pay for any and all bills incurred.  My brother remained calm.  He took her number and said he would contact her when he knew more.  At the vet we learned that when small dogs like Ricky are bitten by large dogs they often have punctured abdomens that require surgery.  The vet took Ricky in for x-rays.  I apologized yo my brother.  I felt so guilty.  He told me I had no reason to feel bad - that the attack would have happened with anyone, including him.  Fortunately the bite was superficial - no surgery needed, just four stitches and a neck-cone to keep Ricky from licking/biting the stitches.  I babied Ricky for the next little while.  My brother said that Ricky could not be babied when I was gone, but he understood my desire to baby him while I was there.
     I went to church the day before I left.  A woman, who knows my brother, asked if I really had to leave.  I did.  She asked when I would be back.  I didn't know.  That afternoon she showed up on my brother's doorstep with two other people from my church.  They offered rides, errands, housekeeping, meals - anything my brother may need while recuperating.  That same afternoon the owner of the big dog came by with a check for the vet bill.  When she learned I was leaving she offered rides, errands, housekeeping, meals - anything my brother may need while recuperating.  My brother's co-workers had given the same offers before he even had the surgery.
     I had never ridden Amtrak.  When I got on the train for the 28 hour ride home I had a lot of questions.  The man seated next me was very kind and patient in answering all my many questions.  We were seated on the east side of the train. I wanted an ocean view.  The car attendant moved me to the west side of the train.  The ride was beautiful.  The people were pleasant.  The train car was nice.  Despite all that, ten hours into the trip I had a headache.  I asked the attendant if there were somewhere I could purchase Tylenol.  She said there wasn't any anywhere on the train and that we would not be at any stops where I could get out and long enough to purchase anything.  A man overheard our conversation and offered me an 800mg Advil.  I thanked him and said that was a little much for me.  He offered to cut one in half.  I thanked him again and said that I was more of a 100mg gal.  He told me the offer stood and I knew where to find him.  Just knowing relief was available was vastly helpful.  At the end of the train ride a friend met me at the station to drive me the 20 miles home. 
     Listed are some of the kindnesses where I was.  There were kindnesses where I wasn't.  My husband and I take turns teaching a 6:45am seminary class to the Freshman and Sophmore kids in our congregation.  When I teach he is home with our 11-year old.  When he teaches, I'm home.  We needed substitutes the entire time I was gone so that 11-year old would not be home alone.  Friends willingly filled in for us.  My husband and the boys ran the household without a complaint while I was away.

     In a conversation I had on the train.  A woman said that it is hard for her to ask others for help.  I asked if she minded when others asked her for help.  She said, "Not at all."  I told her to remember that next time she needed help.  I am grateful there are so many, many people who give help and kindness so willingly.  I am grateful my brother accepted needed help so gracefully.  I am grateful to have learned from the examples of many these past few weeks.
Music to my eyes
     Near San Diego at an outdoor mall.  A little girl, dressed in a skirt made to look like a mermaid's body, stopped walking and said to her mom, "They're playing the song!" Right where they were mom and mermaid danced till the song was over.
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