The year was 1975…the movie Jaws was the
cause a many a panic stricken stampede out of the surf on the beaches around
Cape Town. My parents had acquired the same rooms they always stayed in at the
Van Riebeeck Hotel in Gordon’s Bay and were occupied doing what they always did
those days…and I…well, I was mostly alone, reading books and drinking
cola-tonics in the public lounge. I can’t remember why I was alone…but I do
remember that I was rather lonely.

A group of young navy chaps regularly
frequented the public lounge as well. They noted that I was always alone and
for some or other reason allowed me to hang out with them. One chap in
particular took me under his wing and taught me how to swim out to sea and how
to float among other things. Once when going for a drive with his parents, he
asked if I would like to come along. Of course I wanted to and I did…the option
of sitting alone at the hotel reading whatever I was reading at the time wasn’t
all that appealing in comparison.
Sadly, I don’t remember any of their names.
When my parents returned to Namibia at the end of the holidays we parted
company and I never heard from any of them again. Those were the days before
email and Face Book. But I do remember their kindness. They didn’t have to take
pity on a lonely and gangly teenager, but they did.
As I drove past Gordon’s Bay the other day,
I thought about this moment in time. Kindness is so rare…no wonder I remember this
event so vividly. Of course I wish I could remember their names. All I want to
do now is say thank you.


But it also serves as a lesson to me and to
others. It costs you nothing to be kind other than time and perhaps a bit of
effort and patience. Why not look for someone to whom you can show a bit of
kindness today? You never know how much it may mean to them…even for years to