What Kindness Means To Me: Margaret Butler

The Milk Jug Incident in which I was Repaired

A few years ago, I was having a very difficult time in my life…

Not long after moving to Iowa with my husband and 2 young children, life took some very hard turns. I found myself exhausted by 12-hour hospital shifts, depleted by a challenging graduate program and devastated by divorce all while giving my whole heart and energy to my 2 wonderful children.

Some days, I felt completely alone in the world. It seemed I was giving care to everyone and no one gave care to me. On one spring day, I was feeling especially sad. I had to go to the grocery store after a 12-hour night shift and was totally drained. I was barely coherent as I stepped out of the store into the parking lot. I tripped and fell, the gallon of milk spilling all over.

This felt like the end of the world.

Really, I just wanted to lay there and cry, but I decided I would just get up and buy another gallon of milk. Then I saw and elderly lady get out of her car and rush over to me. Although she was a petite person and I was much bigger, she helped me stand up. At this moment, it was as if a flood gate had opened and I wept openly. I was embarrassed. She did not seem taken aback one bit. “You OK baby, you OK.” She repeated a few times in my ear, her hand on my shoulder.

I started to thank her, and get ready to go back into the store to get new milk. At that moment, a man who worked in the store ran out and put a new gallon in my hand.

“I saw what happened, here you go.”

I thanked him and then I thanked the lady, assuring her I was indeed OK. She gave me a wink and went into the store.

We all went our separate ways, but when I got back into my car, I wept again. Not out of frustration, pain, or self-pity, but out of gratitude for the kindness I had been shown. It came so easily for these people to help and comfort me.

They repaired me with their small acts of kindness. Every time I go to that store my heart is full. I can still hear that sweet lady’s voice in my ear, whenever I feel overwhelmed with life’s demands.


“You OK, baby. You OK.”


I think this incident began a new course in my life that is hard to describe. The lady’s words were like an understanding, “Things get hard for all of us, but you are strong enough to get through it all.” The man’s generosity was like a promise, “There will be enough for you. You will have what you need.” These sentiments have stayed in my heart and mind over the years, and have proven to be true!

Please know that even the smallest act of kindness you show someone else can have a profound effect on them. It can make their day, or even change their life.


“Things get hard for all of us, but you are strong enough to get through it all.”

“There will be enough for you. You will have what you need.”


Author: Guest Contributor

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