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Harris Blackwood: A smile or a helping hand can keep us all connected
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I am a people watcher. I love the language of our movement and expressions. I sometimes wish that I had a means of capturing interesting moments that happen almost every day.

I was in the doctor’s office recently and watched an elderly couple waiting on her name to be called. She seemed a bit agitated and I watched him hold her hand. They were well-worn hands with lots of spots and wrinkles. I got the feeling that the amount of love and affection transmitted to each other was in the same volume as the day

they met.

I saw another couple whom I knew. The wife, unfortunately, is suffering from dementia.

“Mama,” he said. “This is Harris Blackwood, who you read in the paper.”

Her reply was pleasant, but direct, “I don’t know who that is.” I winked at him to say it was OK and he looked back with a gaze that gave me a sense that he was fighting with everything he had to keep her failing mind alive and vibrant.

I went to see my brother’s grandchildren recently. I’m more than delighted to go, but I seldom leave without shedding a tear about a mile down the road. I can’t pinch-hit for their Papa.

Emma, the middle child, met me at the door. She has the most expressive face. Every inch of it seems to smile when she does. It makes you smile right back.

They seem to really like when Uncle Harris comes around. They are great kids and I hope that when I get to heaven, I can tell my brother about them.

Before I went to see them, I attended a funeral for a 3-month old baby boy who died of sudden infant death syndrome. The pain of the faces of that family was a major part of my day, but I would not want you to have to endure it.

All the pictures that were displayed of the little baby had him smiling that toothless grin that only babies can make. That’s how I hope they will remember him.

It made me hug my nieces and nephew even tighter.

I love seeing people being kind. I saw a woman who was two people ahead of me in the grocery store checkout line. The clerk gave her the total and she was a dollar or two short.

She was fumbling around in her purse. The man ahead of me slipped out a $5 bill and dropped it on the floor.

“I believe you dropped this, “ he said to the woman, handing her the bill. I didn’t see his face, but he was one of my heroes that day.

I’m not sure that every person who does a kind thing for another is an angel. But I do believe God knows that certain people will cross our path on a given day and it is up to us how we respond to them.

Sometimes, they might need a little help with a need as simple as opening the door. Other times, it might be an opportunity to help them “find” a little money or buy their lunch when they’re not looking.

Still other times, they might be minus a smile. So why not give them one of yours? It’s a picture you can remember the rest of your day.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on

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