Small acts of kindness

His was a small dairy farm - many years gone now, a result of inevitable urban sprawl.

But in the 1950s and 1960s, the setting was rural enough to allow the dairy operation, with its attendant fields, livestock and chores. His life wasn't necessarily easy, but neither was it bad. He worked hard, but he never seemed to mind. He understood - first hand - the law of the harvest.He also understood the meaning of kindness, love and just plain being a good neighbor.

Though he never held lofty positions among men, he was revered by all who knew him - as an honest man who was full of integrity and willing to help anyone.

The only history book that records his name is, perhaps, a family history or a personal journal. His name isn't known far beyond his hometown. But his worth to mankind is immeasurable.

Life's true heroes are often those whose names and deeds are unknown to the masses, but are so meaningful to the few.

"I was blessed enough to live across the street from him," a neighbor recalled. "I remember as a 12-year-old deacon many cold, cold Sunday mornings when he would pick me up in his '61 Chevy and take me to priesthood meeting because my father was in the bishopric and was already at the church. He was always cheerful, always willing to help. When he picked me up, his car wasn't yet warm - but his spirit was. Aside from a gentle push from my mother, that ride was about the only thing that got me to an early meeting on a cold morning."

If we stop to think about it, our lives are full of inspiring examples of common people performing common - even small - acts of kindness that seem to provide just what is needed at just the right time. And the acts are so easy to perform that we sometimes overlook how important they really are.

But they are ever-so important.

A mother, hurrying to meet her family's needs, accidently knocks a bottle of milk from the refrigerator shelf. When it crashes to the floor, the observant daughter says nothing. She simply takes a dish cloth in hand and begins cleaning the spill. The daughter's act isn't big - except to the mother.

A monument on Temple Square in Salt Lake City reminds visitors of similar kind, but unknown, acts.

"Here in the shadow of the temple, on this spot hallowed by the tread of pioneer feet, the Relief Society - women's benevolent organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - erects this monument.

"It stands as an expression of appreciation for the wondrous opportunities for soul growth that have come to womankind since the time one hundred years ago when in 1842 the Relief Society was organized in Nauvoo, Illinois, by the Prophet Joseph Smith.

"It is with gratitude that this monument is dedicated to the thousands of unsung Relief Society heroines who over a period of one hundred years have stimulated intellectual development and given compassionate service without thought of honor or reward. These valiant women have nourished the hungry, clothed the needy, nursed the sick, buoyed up the discouraged and disconsolate, and tenderly prepared the dead for burial."

How many hundreds of these women have done so many thousands of these small, but wonderful, things? No one, of course, knows. But thousands are so grateful.

The news, while not totally unexpected was met in the small community with expected sadness. The dairy farmer had suffered a heart attack and died.

Fittingly - almost as if the Lord had allowed him to die in a place he loved so well - he had passed on while walking through a field near the dairy barn. As might be expected, his passing brought sweet memories of all the small, but wonderful, things he'd done during his mortal sojourn.

This quiet, committed, strong and enduring man of integrity left the world a much better place - but, in the context of the millions who have lived on earth, such a very, very few ever knew of his great goodness. But those whose path he crossed are eternally grateful.

For each of us, it would be well to leave such a legacy.

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