Kindness of Strangers
How a chance encounter brightened a difficult day for a single parent
IT WAS THE YEAR 2000 AND I WAS A SINGLE PARENT,
raising my four-year-old son Daniel in Perth with all my family based on the other side of the country. Without the support of my siblings, aunties, uncles or grandparents, being on my own was terribly hard. Because my son’s father lived in Perth, I couldn’t relocate to be with my family. Although Daniel’s father didn’t see him often, it was important for him to be geographically close to his dad. Money was tight, and with almost no support network, I often felt depressed.
One night, after a busy, long day at work, I raced to Daniel’s childcare centre to collect him on time. After arriving home, I made dinner for the two of us, before heading outside so Daniel could ride his tricycle. Wearing his Batman costume, he was full of energy as he rode proudly through Claremont towards the river, his cape flying behind him. Meanwhile I walked alongside feeling weighed down. I tried to keep a cheerful facade so I didn’t upset Daniel, but inside
A Reader’s Digest Field Editor, Noeleen Ginnane lives in Melbourne in the same suburb as her son Daniel. She has recently started her memoir, finding that her passion for writing has begun to fire again.
I was broken, exhausted and lonely. When we got to the river we walked down the pier. There was an older man fishing at the end and I was anxious Daniel would disturb his peace and quiet by making noise, so told him to hush. As we approached, the man turned, smiled and asked, “How’s Batman this evening?”
Daniel proudly informed the man that Batman was good, thanks, before casually asking about the fish. I value good manners, and had been afraid we might be bothering the man. Yet I couldn’t have been more wrong. The kind man engaged with my son – or should I say, Batman – and watching their exchanges brought a tear to my eye. This lovely old gentleman was so kind, friendly and genuinely interested in Batman, my little boy, that I just wanted to cry.
It was just unforgettable how this man gave my son the time of day. I will always be grateful for that.
The man turned, smiled and asked, “How’s Batman this evening?”
Young Daniel in his superhero costume