Growing up just outside of a rural town of three hundred people, I quickly learned what is expected in this tight-knit community. I wave at the people I meet on the road even if I don’t know them, I help my neighbor when the cows get out, and when our closest neighbor was rushed into the hospital and didn’t come home for weeks, my family helped his family put in the rest of his crops. My family and all the surrounding families in the area all came together one summer to mow, rake, and bail this farmers hay. These farmers could have easily been tilling their own land when the weather was beautiful, but instead, they put their friend and neighbor first and got the job done. Dad even joked there were so many people unloading hay in the hay barn they were all bumping into each other. Living in this area gives me a sense of pride that I cherish dearly.
The exact same act of coming together also happens during times of grief. It is not unusual to bring plates of cookies or bars when there is a painful death in the neighbor’s family. Many times, the family is so overcome with the massive amounts of food in their house they end up re-gifting them to relatives who stopped for the funeral.
It is hard to walk into the local fertilizer plant without hearing “Hey Scottie, well hello Miss Mariah. Would you like some cookies and juice for the road?” In the local convenience store, I always see people I know and strike up a great conversation that lasts for more than a few minutes. I absolutely love going into town because I know that wherever I go, there is always a kind person ready to wave and smile saying, “Hello Mariah!”
Then there are the deliverymen. Our family always looks forward to seeing the UPS deliveryman. Last winter my mom had just come home from the doctor with pneumonia and she was struggling to carry in the groceries without slipping on the ice. The UPS man happened to be delivering a package at the exact same time and INSISTED he carry in the groceries for her while she rested. Our milkman is also a great person. He always brings us Loras Little Trucking gear and gives us a nice Christmas present every year.
I believe that some of the greatest acts of kindness are learned in rural areas, where everyone knows everybody, and everyone gets along. I am thankful to grow up in small town Iowa where I wave at every person I meet and in turn, they wave back. Around here, parents instill a genuine sense of caring and concern towards other people, which is one of the greatest values a child can ever learn.
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