Day of spread­ing smiles

I de­cided to hon­our my late mum with ran­dom acts of kind­ness…

Chat - - Come on in! - By Ch­eryl Rick­man, 43, from Winch­ester

It was im­pos­si­ble to think of my mum Denise with­out re­mem­ber­ing her smile – even though life hadn’t al­ways been easy for her. She’d had MS for 20 years and was in a wheel­chair.

But she didn’t let it get to her. Chuck­ling away about ‘Denise’s knees’!

She had time for ev­ery­one and al­ways put oth­ers first.

Es­pe­cially with me as a teen. I could be moody, tear­ful... Mum was there for me, but I never re­ally ap­pre­ci­ated it.

When I was 17, Mum had a rou­tine leg op, but got pneu­mo­nia and sep­ti­caemia and her body shut down.

And on 25 April 1992, Mum died. She was only 43.

She’d lived half her life in pain and died too young. But I had to carry on and live a good life in her hon­our.

In time, I met my part­ner James, now 40, and we had our daugh­ter Brooke, 9.

It could be hard be­ing a mum with­out a mum. So many times, I wished she was there.

As my 43rd birth­day ap­proached, I felt sad.

It was the age Mum had been when she died.

I didn’t know what to ex­pect or feel. But I did want to cel­e­brate by re­mem­ber­ing her.

But how?

Then it hit me – I’d do 43 ran­dom acts of kind­ness – one for each year of our age.

Soon James and Brooke were both on board, too…

On the eve on my birth­day, me and Brooke baked cook­ies, wrote let­ters, sealed en­velopes.

This 11 July, I woke up sur­rounded by prezzies. ‘Happy birth­day!’ James said. There was no time for that! I gave cook­ies to neigh­bours. Some I’d never even met!

When I told them my plan, smiles crossed their faces.

Next, I got my friend’s kids for the school run, so she could have a nice, peace­ful brew!

At school, I left teach­ers with cof­fee and bis­cuits.

Next, in a cof­fee shop, I paid for two strangers’ drinks.

I picked up four bunches of flow­ers on the way to the car – but not be­fore I paid a thrilled mum-to-be a com­pli­ment!

Then, I helped an el­derly lady with her shop­ping.

In town, I gave out chocs with notes say­ing, You’re awe­some.

I spot­ted some flus­tered­look­ing mums, too. Gave them cards to give them a boost.

A favourite deed I did was

hid­ing notes in li­brary books.

Thank you for be­ing you!

some read.

I put a link to Twit­ter if find­ers wanted to get in touch.

Next, I went to Rom­sey Hos­pi­tal and dropped off bis­cuits for staff.

On the way out, I stuck pound coins on the park­ing ma­chine.

Park free on me!

I scrawled on a sticky note.

I was about to scarper when I bumped into a lady whose eyes filled with tears…

Turns out her hus­band had left her and her un­cle had died.

‘Thank you,’ she said, hug­ging me as I told her my mis­sion.

Later, I gave two women at a bus stop some flow­ers.

Next, I spot­ted a minibus of el­derly folk. I gave them and their driver cho­co­lates.

‘Get­ting older is a gift,’ one man told me.

It made me re­ally miss my mum and imag­ine what she’d have been like at his age.

Next, at a leisure cen­tre, I paid for a fam­ily to go swim­ming and stuck some pound coins on the vend­ing ma­chine.

Then I do­nated some food to the lo­cal an­i­mal cen­tre.

With the let­ters from the night be­fore, I went into a be­reaved chil­dren’s cen­tre.

In time, you feel bet­ter and cry less,

I’d writ­ten.

I wrote to JK Rowl­ing, whose mum also had MS, just to thank her for be­ing an in­spi­ra­tion.

Then I dropped off a cake to a friend with a new­born.

Shel­tered hous­ing was nearby, so I gave them flow­ers. And I left my last bunch at a ran­dom lady’s door.

I also de­liv­ered cards to friends hav­ing a bad week, do­nated to a char­ity shop, sent some pants off to Africa...

I do­nated some money to Brooke’s school, too. Plus I’d left Brooke and James love let­ters around the house…

I got mes­sages on­line from peo­ple who found my notes. And a bot­tle of wine with a card from a neigh­bour.

I’d planned on hav­ing a bath, but I was too ex­hausted!

In­stead, I lit a can­dle and told my mum how much I loved her.

Count­ing up my deeds, they added to 43. Mum’d be proud.

The world can be sad – so, if you put a smile on stranger’s face, that’s a won­der­ful thing.

My day of kind­ness turned an oth­er­wise tough day into a ten­der and bright birth­day.

Now I’m plan­ning for my 44th!

Next, I gave cards to friends hav­ing a bad week...

As a tod­dler with lovely Mum Denise

Quids in: I stuck coins on park­ing and vend­ing ma­chines Write stuff: Feel­good notes for strangers deeds! Just a few of my 43 good

Thanks a bunch! I gave out four lots of flow­ers

Tak­ing the lead: I do­nated to dog­gies, too!

Chocs away: Re­ally spoil­ing folk

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