It is said that in Hollywood live the beautiful people. It is true, their thin, tan bodies and pretty faces are beautiful to look at.
To me, however, the beautiful people are right here in Crescent City. I'll give you some examples.
One afternoon during the last days counting down until Christmas, a harried young woman came through my grocery check-out line with about 10 gift cards. She looked tired yet relieved to be "finished." As I bid her good day, she plunked down a Starbucks card and said, "Here, this one is for you. You're my favorite checker."
I was moved to tears. Her gift to me was from the heart. When it's not expected or an exchange with no hope of getting anything back, that is a true gift. And after a long day of standing and repetition, her kindness to me validated that perhaps my job matters in some small way. Thank you, Ms. Horton.
Then there is Mr. Harrington, a very kind, older gentleman with a twinkle in his eyes. One day he came in to buy a whole bag of cat food cans. I asked if he'd gotten a cat.
"No, I'm taking care of my friend's cat in Smith River."
"Wow," I said, "that's a long way to go."
"I go up once in the morning and once in the evening. Poor cat is lonesome."
"Well, that sure is nice of you. Thank you, Mr. Harrington."
My neighbor, Mrs. Nemitz is well along in years, so she decided to move back to her native country, Hungary. A daunting task when you're 80-plus years old. But not to worry, the beautiful people of Crescent City to the rescue!
Norma helped her sell her home. Marilyn helped her do her escrow and shop for her trip. Mike and Penny held a yard sale for her since she has to leave all her possessions behind, and Karin, another neighbor, helped her write checks for all her closing bills. Wow, they take the term "good neighbor" to a whole new level.
Last but not least, Carolyn Dikes, one of our providers at our Open Door Clinic, travels to earthquake-ridden Haiti. She goes there not only to render much-needed medical care, but also humanitarian aid as those people are without basic life needs: clean water, food and shelter.
Under the most dire of circumstances, the artists there are producing the most amazing art and paintings that spring out of the depths of their pain. Carolyn returned to the U.S. with many paintings that she hopes to auction off to raise money to send back to them.
These days it seems we go from one natural or man-made disaster to another. We who are relatively healthy, warm and well fed, would do well to remember the less fortunate. We should arise each morning with a spirit of gratefulness and a resolve to bring as much joy and compassion to others, and thus to ourselves, as we can.
Velma Nichols-Rinehart is aCrescent City resident.