Those who know me in real life, will likely remember the story of how back in May, I saw an e-mail request from the Veterans Care Program at a hospital looking for a violin donation for a Vet. who wanted to play again.
I sent the word out on Facebook and Twitter and lots of really good people took up the challenge of finding one.
The remarkable part of that story was when I was contacted by Brandon Hahn, a young married truck driver from a smaller town about half an hour from where I live.
A very nice, and friendly sounding man, he asked me a few questions then suggested that he might be able to trade a guitar that he had for a violin and donate it to the program.
I'll be honest, by that point, there had been quite a few leads that didn't pan out, so while his thought seemed genuine, I really wasn't getting my hopes up... However a few hours later, he called me again. He had found a music store that would do the trade. He traded his guitar and paid the cash difference for a brand new violin.
I was speechless, again, for those who know me, that's not an easy thing to do. In the beginning, I had thought that just maybe, someone would have an old one in an attic but this man and his wife Jessica, with kindness rarely seen, bought one brand new, which they donated to the Veterans Care Music Program for a Vet. that they had never laid eyes on..
Brandon and I spoke a couple of more times after that, but then I didn't hear from him, which was disappointing, I wanted to meet him in real life and count him among my friends.. But Guys? We aren't always the best at keeping in touch, I get that.
However, I found out about a week ago, that Brandon passed away tragically in June. It's taken me that long to be able to write this tribute, in fact, even now I'm tearing up as I do it.
This is a Man, who was constantly doing random acts of kindness, whether he was giving some nameless employee at a gas station a birthday cake, because he was new to the country and alone, or shoveling his neighbours drive ways, or even collecting clothes with his wife for local shelters(The clothes were wet and to be thrown out, but they washed,dried and folded hundreds of pounds of clothing, then donated them)
I don't know why the loss of someone I never met has affected me so much. Only that it has.
I have always had a theory that most people are genuinely good and kind, some may be in different circumstances, or making unkind choices, but deep down they are good.. And there are a few(and this might not be a popular thing to say), who just aren't.. Who are just generally bad, and cruel... But there are also some, who are just better than the rest of us... Who exemplify kindness, who can not pass by a person in need without lending a hand, and when they leave us.. The world truly is an emptier place. I think that Brandon was one of those people.
I also believe that when a person who has lived with the life philosophy of Kindness leaves us, it's up to the rest of us to pick up that gauntlet and do a little extra to try and fill the void that has been left behind.
He taught me something else too. While we can't all be famous Artist, Musicians or Inventors... It's within each of us the power to be remembered for leaving the world a better place, simply by being nice to each other., and I for one will try and follow his lead and be a little kinder than I was yesterday
Add: To keep the kindness flowing, we are singing Christmas Carols and collecting donations for the food back, please consider joining us :-)