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November 2020 Cover Story

Written and Edited by Mike Tumbarello

World Kindness Month

November is noteworthy not only as the month that holds Thanksgiving, but also as the month that contains World Kindness Day, November 13th.  According to Wikipedia, “World Kindness Day is an international observance that was introduced in 1998 by the World Kindness Movement, a coalition of nations’ kindness Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). It is observed in many countries, including  Canada, Australia Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates.”

Further, Wikipedia states that “World Kindness Day is to highlight good deeds in the community focusing on the positive power and the common thread of kindness which binds us. Kindness is a fundamental part of the human condition which bridges the divides of race, religion, politics, gender and zip codes. Kindness Cards are also an ongoing activity which can either be passed on to recognize an act of kindness and/or ask that an act of kindness be done. Approaches are being made to the United Nations by the peak global body, the World Kindness Movement, to have World Kindness Day officially recognized and its members unanimously sign a Declaration of Support for World Kindness.”

Well, maybe I am crazy, but that sounds like a good idea and one that we can all work to bring about. I know that people and institutions all over the USA and here in Garrett County could benefit from a little kindness.  I believe these are trying times and that a simple gesture could go a long way to help us overcome some of the challenges of the pandemic and devisiveness caused by our political positions.  I also believe that many people are facing “life challenges”  that we may not see, even if we work with them or are friends.

My family had a real challenge with a loved one that had an addiction problem.  The challenges related to that episode in our lives were a strong part of the impetus that brought my wife Jean and I out here to Garrett County.  Frankly, we needed to get out of the “rat race,” experience natural beauty and just plain heal.  I am sharing this here to illustrate the point and to get each of you thinking about those around you and what burdens they may be sharing.

My wife Jean has worked to share our family’s story and to help others in the community and has penned the following letter to the editor which will be submitted and hopefully published in local papers in the near future.  The bottom line is that many of us could benefit from giving and/or receiving a little kindness.  Here’s Jean’s letter:

To the Editor:

November is World Kindness month. While it is a good thing to remind people that a little kindness can go a long way, it is something that needs to be practiced every day – not just in November. Being kind is such a simple thing, yet seems to be in short supply these days.

We are all struggling with the reality of the COVID-19 virus. In addition to that, each of us probably has other things we are dealing with, issues that carry no outward sign. We cannot know the inner turmoil others are going through. The list is a long one but the focus of my letter is the stigma a family might encounter when a loved one is dealing with addiction.

Having lived through the nightmare of my son addicted to pain medications for close to five years, I understand the fear, the anxiety, the sleepless nights and above all, the shame associated with addiction. What did I do wrong?  How could I have raised a child that would turn to drugs? What will my family and friends think if they find out? Am I a bad parent? How did I fail? I kept this a secret for many years, hiding it from family and friends. When my son reached the lowest point of his addiction, I could no longer hold in the pain. I had to tell someone what my family was going through. I am so grateful that family and friends were understanding and supportive. They had no idea of what my family silently endured for so many years. I had hidden the turmoil well.

Fast forward eight years – my son lives in Colorado with his wife and has a job he loves. A happy ending for sure but I still think of those difficult years and hope my sharing my experience might help someone going through a similar situation. (I volunteer with an Action Team at the health department) But more importantly, it has taught me that even though on the surface people may seem happy and ‘put together’, they may also have struggles and pain that they hide very well. Be kind every day.

By the way, if you have a loved one struggling with addiction, the answer to many of those questions is NO- you did nothing wrong; you are not a bad parent; you did not fail. It helps to talk to others in the same situation. The Health Department can help you find help. Give them a call 301-334-7670.

Jean Tumbarello, Swanton

Have a great November folks and please consider spreading a little kindness around the Deep Creek Lake area.

Mike Tumbarello

November, 2020