By Sandy McPherson Carrubba Geary
At the beginning of June, I had foot surgery. My husband and I received meals and gift cards so we wouldn’t starve before I resumed cooking. Friends showered us with surprises, for which we felt grateful.
Then I thought about the strangers who have been kind to me over the years. Strangers have stopped me while I shopped in a card store or grocery store to say they enjoyed reading what I have had published in The Buffalo News. Their kind words brightened my day.
After I wrote about dancing, I received invitations to a square dancing group and to the Robert Burns Memorial Supper sponsored by the Royal Scottish Country Dancers. The former invitation I did not accept, because I wasn’t sure I could survive the lively pace and my ill husband couldn’t participate. The latter I did accept more than once, and enjoyed myself while wearing my clan tartan.
One response to a My View sits in my living room as a reminder of the kindness of Western New Yorkers. I had written about meeting my first husband at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in front of Vincent Van Gogh’s painting called “The Old Mill, 1888.”
A few weeks later, a woman phoned because she had been touched by my piece. I didn’t tell her I had written it for my husband, who was steadily declining. That column gave my ailing spouse and me a conversation topic other than his illness.
“I have a gift for you,” this stranger said over the telephone.
“Oh, that’s not necessary,” I told her, but she insisted she had to give it to me.
“If you don’t feel comfortable having me come to your home, we can meet in a restaurant,” she said.
How could I refuse this generous stranger? We made a date for her to come for tea and cookies one afternoon when my husband would be gone to therapy.
She brought a huge package wrapped in brown paper. What could it be? After we sat at the dining room table, I opened the package. Before me was an oil painting copy of that same work my husband and I had met in front of years ago. I felt breathless when I saw its vivid colors.
While we drank tea, she told me she took up painting after retiring from the Amherst School District. She copied the Old Masters’ works from a book she owned. Rather than keep the paintings, she gave them to friends. But she felt compelled to do this one for me although we had not previously met.
“I saw that painting in my book,” she said, “and always thought that work was dull with all the browns in it. But when you wrote about the colors, I went back and looked at it and noticed the blues and greens. So I decided to paint it for you.”
A few weeks later, as I fretted about a health problem of my own, a delivery person stood on the porch holding out a package addressed to me.
“There must be some mistake,” I said. “I didn’t order anything.”
“Maybe someone sent you a gift,” she said, pressing the package into my hand.
Inside was a beautifully gift-wrapped box along with a note from Louis Grachos, then the director of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. He had sent a print of the Van Gogh painting. Although he has since left Western New York, I treasure his generous gift.
Somehow my written words triggered fellow Western New Yorkers to respond kindly. And I am so grateful.