Small Acts of Kindness

by Jay Fadden

Painting of a boy with a net at the seashore

The light peeked through my blinds, sending a white streak across my room and onto my bed. I woke and jumped out of the bed, my feet running before they even hit the ground. It was 6am, and I bolted from my room and down the stairs. My sisters, parents, and grandparents were all asleep, but I was wide awake. I raced across the kitchen floor, skipping as I tried to put my sneakers on as I ran. I grabbed a banana as I opened the basement door and bolted down another flight of stairs. I never stayed long in the basement because I was afraid of the many nooks and dark spaces that would scare any eight-year-old, the age I was as I tell this story. I collected a fishing pole, a net, a sand bucket, and some bait as I opened the sliding door and stepped into the morning sun.

I stopped and took a deep breath through my nose. I loved the smell of a new morning and all the possibilities each day presented. I made it to the road with my gear spilling over my entire body. I had the same routine every day. I would go to the pond early to catch bullfrogs and crayfish and do a little fishing. I was something of a local legend for my bullfrog catching abilities. I would only use my hands and would stay still for minutes at a time until finally moving an inch to get closer to my target. At the last moment, I would pounce like a cat. I rarely failed to catch my prey. However, after I caught my bullfrog, I would let him go. I just liked the challenge.

Fishing was another matter. It was very rare that I would even get a bite, let alone catch a fish. But how I loved watching the bobber bounce in the water. The anticipation was awesome, even there was no reward. On this particular day, I set up my pole close to two elderly gentlemen who were also fishing. It was not unusual for others to be fishing early in the morning, and I had known these two men for years. I put on my bobber and worm and cast the bait into the cool water. I sat on the sand and proceeded to talk with the other fishermen. Every so often, I would put a steely gaze on my bobber that did not move.

After about 30 minutes, I asked the men if they could watch my line so I could run up to the house. They smiled and agreed, and off I ran. When I returned to the beach, one of the men waved for me to hurry up. I ran to them and they told me my bobber had disappeared a few times and that I should reel it in. I excitedly grabbed my reel and began to bring in the line, which was taut. As it got closer, I got more excited as I saw a fish on the hook. He did not move much and was not huge, but to me, it was Moby Dick! Without hesitation, I thanked the men and started to run to my house, the fish still on the hook and my stuff still on the beach. It was my first fish, and I could not wait to show my father.

As I look back now over 45 years later, I realize the kindness of those men who put one of their fish on my hook. My parents actually took a picture of me with my pole and fish and made a poster of it that hung in my room for decades. I would always smile as I passed it. We can all make a difference in someone's life with little acts like putting a fish on a small boy’s hook. To make a difference, whether in action or word, is a great gift. Make a difference today and change someone’s life!


Small Acts of Kindness