JoAnn Kirkland wrote a really special piece in the Shelter Island Reporter last week. She wrote about the small acts of kindness that everyone experiences living here. She wrote how someone saved her holiday with an emergency loan of the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, mandatory viewing for any holiday list, topped only by White Christmas. Seems like a small favor, but all favors are small until you’re the one who needs them.
And what goes around really does come around on the Island. A lovely man named Mr. Manillo, a WWII vet, and I were talking in the IGA one day and he lamented that his American flag was in bad need of repair. It was an old-style, cotton fabric one. I repaired it for him with durable embroidery thread that had to be sewn by hand. When he came to get it, I refused any payment. He asked me why, and I told him, “I can’t accept any payment for repairing an American flag.” He got tearful. He said, “I didn’t think anyone felt that way about the flag anymore.” I know my sentiment is felt the same all over the Island. Throughout that summer, I repaired about nine flags. My name just got around. But, like JoAnn wrote, it all circles back around. The Island is the one place you can cast your bread upon the waters and it will come back to you.
The next fall, I was sweating bullets about how I was going to find the $96 dollars in my budget to pay for a school trip for my son. While I was sitting in the school parking lot waiting for him to come out, out of the blue, Mark Karnevogel from the Lions Club walked up to my car window and told me the Lions were covering the fee for me. I burst into tears. I hadn’t planned on asking for any help, wouldn’t know where to begin. I was getting ready to tell my son he couldn’t go on the trip, and, because somebody somewhere knew my predicament and told another somebody, and who knows how many connections were made, Jacob got to go to New York with his pals.
JoAnn also wrote about the fact that everyone is keeping an eye on everyone else’s kid. It’s very difficult to pull one over on Mom on Shelter Island, because kids talk, brag and lie as easy as they breathe—and some Mom listening through a bedroom door somewhere will get the goods on you every time. To paraphrase Lincoln, You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time—buy you can’t fool Mom….
I recall the shell-shocked expression on my 11-year-old daughter’s face when I was waiting for her return at the North Ferry. She didn’t have permission to go off-Island alone, but she went with a group of older girls. Before she could get back, the tom-toms of the PSI (Parents of Shelter Island) network had reached me. I got a call from a ferry worker who knew she wasn’t supposed to go off-Island, a call from a passenger on the ferry who saw her….In all I got about five calls before she even landed on the Greenport side. Let me tell you, my friend, the CIA has nothing on Shelter Island for stealth and speed of information.
I agree with you, JoAnn Kirkland, the Island is its own very special place. Not perfect, but who needs perfect when this level of love swirls all around.