family, grief, mom, travel

Signs of Love

Saturday was my mom’s birthday. She would have been 66 years old.

When I woke that morning, I wondered if I would feel her presence on her special day. After all, this is the third birthday since she’s been gone. The grief has slowly abated from the constant turbulence of crashing waves where I could never catch my breath to a steady stream of ripples that flow as the tide moves in and out.

Even so, there are still occasions that catch me off-guard, when my vulnerabilities are unshielded and a memory or moment will knock me off my feet. I have discovered that grief is unscripted, drawing me back in to that awkward state of missing her deeply without warning. It’s during those times that I search for signs of love in the world around me.

My mom was an avid collector of frogs, a passion that began during her childhood. Anytime I see a frog-themed item, it makes me think of her. On her birthday, as I walked the streets of Key West, Florida, I saw several frogs around, from the stone statue along the outside perimeter of a local museum to a wooden directional sign declaring a Frog Tiki Bar only 1,373 miles away. Each little frog made me smile and think of her.

A stone frog statue
A frog stand on the front porch of a building
There was even a ceramic frog displayed in an art gallery window!

There were other signs of love I discovered that day. I saw a Momma hen with a baby chick right in our path on a sidewalk. I saw a street sign with our state name. I even had a butterfly swirl around me, the first and only butterfly I saw the entire trip, that landed on a palm leaf nearby and stayed still as I took photos to capture the moment.

A Momma hen and her chick
Virginia Street in Florida
The beautiful butterfly that swirled around me as I walked.
I was even able to capture a selfie with the butterfly, too!

Whenever I travel to another city, especially out-of-state, I take a copy of my book to leave for someone to find. It’s my little way to scatter seeds of kindness for someone who may need to be uplifted (or perhaps to brighten the day of a book lover like me who adores free books!)

As I walked, I waited for that little nudge to leave my book in a perfect place for a stranger to receive. I wrote about my mom in several sections of my book, and even though she left this world before my book was written, she continues to be an integral part of my kindness journey.

As the sky started to show just a sliver of dusk, a chair by an ice cream parlor caught my eye. It had a heart right in the back of the chair. (And my mom LOVED sweets!) That’s when I knew I had found the ideal location to leave my book.

A sweet spot in memory of my mom.

I autographed the inside and left a post-it note message on the front. Perhaps my book would be found by someone who needed to be reminded of the good in the world.

On my note, I mention my mom whose photo is on p. 75.
The entrance of the cute little ice cream shop

About an hour later, as I passed the shop again, my book was nowhere to be found. It brought such joy to know that someone out there in the world received a sweet surprise in memory of my mom.

My book is gone!

Today, as we celebrate the birthday of another beloved person, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I am reminded of his words that push me as a kindness cultivator:

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?”

~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

While my acts of kindness are often small and unassuming (and many times undocumented), I believe we each have the power to transform this world in wonderful ways. When we listen to that whisper on our hearts to go and do, to share and serve, we unknowingly contribute to those signs of love that others may hold deep in their hearts.

This week I encourage you to look for signs of love around you as you go about your day. If you get a little nudge to do something for someone else, follow through! Small moments matter and may just be the spark of joy someone else needs to brighten their day.

Your acts of kindness make an impact. Be the good!

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