A different kind of birthday wish

A different kind of birthday wish

A different kind of birthday wish


by Joe Arnold


Posted on November 18, 2012 at 10:50 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 19 at 12:27 PM

A personal note from WHAS11's Joe Arnold to viewers and readers:

Again this year, I thank you for allowing me a personal indulgence and perhaps granting me a favor. 

The following article was originally published November 18, 2011. 

(WHAS11) It is a different kind of birthday wish, emphasis on kind.

My mom, Joyce Arnold, discouraged her family from giving her any birthday presents, instead encouraging us to treat ourselves to a dessert or some fun activity and to think of her, or - better yet - do something kind for someone else.

The former was an easy task for me.  We always keep ice cream in the freezer.  After a generous dousing of Hershey Syrup, request #1 was complete.  Treat served.

The latter could be more daunting.  What good deed could I perform that might measure up to my mother? 

And that is where the essence of Mom responds with one of her many favorites in a lifetime collection of quotes:

   "The smallest deed is better than the greatest intention."
  --  John Burroughs

That's how my mother lived life, with simple acts of kindness, empathy and compassion.  A handwritten note to congratulate or console.  A listening smile.  The reminder to each of her children - you never know what kind of day someone is having, what their life circumstances are - be patient.  Be kind.

My mother was diagnosed with brain cancer two years ago and died last year (2010).  The stories shared of her many kindnesses over the years overwhelmed us.  In her obituary, we suggested that, in lieu of flowers, to truly honor her spirit and example, that readers should do what Mom asked of us on her birthday, treat yourself or perform some act of kindness.

Which brings us to today, November 18, Mom's birthday.

My sisters have launched a "Pay it Forward" campaign to perpetuate Mom's birthday wish.  On Facebook posts and e-mail blasts, they have suggested to friends and family to do something special for someone today "in the spirit of Joyce."

We have already heard back from people who plan to make charitable contributions or write a note to a far-flung friend.

It never hurts to have a reminder to be kind or patient. 

Here's mine - that I share with you - in the spirit of Joyce.