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  • Writer's pictureTracey Lee

The Kindness of Strangers and Friends

There are times in life when the best of humanity is revealed. It’s a time when you can rely on your friends to step in and people you don’t know to step up. And I’ve just had one of those times.

 In a previous blog I wrote about my brother-in-law, who has an acquired brain injury as a result of a car accident fifteen years ago. Rod requires 24/7 care and is wheelchair bound. Life is not easy. And in the last few weeks he also lost his best friend to an unexpected heart attack so he has been sad too.

So today’s adventure was in a way an opportunity to do something that was just a bit of fun, something out of the ordinary and an activity that we had not thought of doing before, simply because of the logistics.


We were going swimming; in the sea!  Now this seems like such a straightforward endeavour but as Rod is quadriplegic through brain injury and is a big lad the scenario was not as simple as, go to the beach and swim. We had to have equipment which included a hospital bed and portable hoist as well as two carers and a beach wheelchair.

Fairly uncomplicated thus far.  But equipment is such a small part of the equation. The real need was people. People to support Rod in the beach wheelchair, to push it down to the water, to hold the chair and passenger in the shallows and then float and support him as he gently rode the waves on a perfect sunny Sunday afternoon.

And the people came. People who didn’t know us or Rod rose to the occasion, volunteering their time to make this thing a reality. The volunteers from Broulee Surfers Surf Lifesaving Club were without doubt the ‘kind strangers’ who made Rod’s day. It was not only the logistics of the swim; it was the respect and generosity with which it was done.  As a family, we are truly grateful.

And friends came. They were there to cheer Rod on, to take photos and films and to swim alongside us. They also watched from the beach and stayed to congratulate him on his big adventure.  Their presence made the day a celebration; a reflection of the significance of inclusion, of ability above disability and the importance of making the most of every day.

It was always going to be more than just a swim in the sea. It was an achievement, a mile-stone and a memory-making moment. And perhaps a lesson about living.

It was made possible by big-hearted people who showed that they understand that life isn’t about the things you have or what you earn. The best of life comes from our contributions to others’ happiness, by giving without receiving.  While Rod was the intended recipient of today’s joy, we all walked away feeling a little more hopeful and a lot more grateful. Every day provides us with an opportunity to do something for others and to wonder at how lucky we are.

‘A sense of concern for others gives our lives meaning; it is the root of all human happiness.’

Dalai Lama

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