In was "re-introduced" to Ima (my mom-in-law) the other night. I see her in a way I never did before. Well, that's not entirely true. I've always thought of her as extremely kind. She goes out of her way to make a phone call or send a card to make someone's day. Her house is open to guests, and distant "cousins" seem to materialize all the time and benefit from her generous hospitality. She truly is a kind soul.
Many people know Ima as the driver's ed lady. She was telling me how she ends each semester urging - no, begging - her students not to drive after having drunk. She tells them that if ever they're in a situation where the driver has been drinking and they're stuck, call her and she'll get them home - anytime, anywhere. And these are not just empty words. A former student called her at 1:00 AM one summer night. He was out in the Catskills with some staff friends who had been drinking. He was the designated driver. Problem was, he had had a couple of beers too. Ima (being in the city) could not drive him home but she instructed him to call a cab. Since he had no money on him, she spoke with the cab service and gave her VISA number over the phone to cover the trip back to camp for the boys. After retelling the story, Ima shrugged and said, "My little bit of tzedaka." Hey, don't underestimate yourself. And it's a pleasure to get to know you, again.