Recently I was back in Indiana visiting some old friends and playing golf in a town where we once lived and coached.
That evening they were having a street fair so we all took some chairs and found ourselves near the stage for a show that would feature an old rock-n’-roll act. The act was Jan and Dean from the late 1950s’.
Kindness comes dressed in a lot of different costumes. Two years prior to Jan’s accident one of their hit songs had been a thing called “Dead Man’s Curve.” In 1966 Berry in real life lived the lyrics of that song. Driving too fast in a sports car Berry crashed and he was left with some speech, mobility and memory problems. But in the years that followed the duo continued to work the road and perform. Even under the best of circumstances such a life for a performer can be a strain.
When performing and going out on the road often the band would be waiting for Jan to meet up with them to make their travel schedule. On one such occasion Dean went looking for Jan as the band was about to board a plane. Dean found Jan in a little coffee shop sitting at a table all alone. On difficult days when bouts of confusion were so much a part of Jan’s life things of a daily routine became difficult. On this day Dean, seeing Jan sitting alone trying to manage breakfast, goes to the table and pulls up a chair across from Jan. They talk quietly. Then Dean can be seen reaching across the table for Jan’s tray. He picks up a small jelly container along with a pad of butter and proceeds to butter and jelly Jan’s toast. He then cuts the toast into small pieces so it will be easier for Jan to manage. He then slides the tray back to Jan.
On this warm summer evening in central Indiana as we sat and watched Dean and the band perform I thought:
“You know sometimes kindness can be something as simple as someone putting butter and jelly on your toast.”
August 15, 2010