Kind­ness of Strangers

How a chance en­counter bright­ened a dif­fi­cult day for a sin­gle par­ent

Reader's Digest Asia Pacific - - Contents - BY NOELEEN GINNANE

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

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