MARY READY: Good people doing good things are everywhere

Mary Ready, Ready or Not

It’s not hard these days to be cynical about humanity. We live in a “looking-out-for-No.-1” world. Selfishness has almost become an art form.

Then, again, maybe not.

A redneck refrain, as expressed in the lyrics of a country ballad, is “Them’s good people.” The song’s chorus concludes “They’s good people everywhere. You’ll know ‘em when you see ‘em. Reachin out a helpin’ hand, cause they want to, no other reason.”

Deplorable grammar notwithstanding, that simple song carries a profound message. I’ve been blessed lately to cross paths with three ladies who definitely qualify as “good people.”

Last Sunday, I met Dr. Connie Siskowski, my pastor’s amazing mother-in-law. She’s the founder of The American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY), a not-for-profit organization that provides support to children with the responsibility of caring for a seriously ill parent, grandparent or sibling.

Established in 2006, the association has helped hundreds of students in schools across South Florida. Last year, more than 500 students were assisted throughout Palm Beach County. As a caregiver myself and knowing how tough it is as an adult, I can only imagine it’s even harder on a young person who has to deal with school along with the accompanying homework and extracurricular-social activities. Not to mention the typical teenage angst related to just growing up.

A few weeks ago, CNN's Anderson Cooper announced the top 10 CNN Heroes for 2012 and out of more than 10,000 nominations AACY was selected. Online voters will choose the winner, Hero of the Year, who will receive $250,000 and worldwide recognition. Voting ends at midnight on Nov. 28 with the winner revealed Dec. 2. The other nine are all true heroes too, but Dr. Siskowski has my heart as well as my vote.

To vote, go to or via Facebook at #CNNHeroes. You can vote 10 times per day, every day until Nov. 28, through either email or Facebook Even if The AACY doesn’t take top spot, the organization is thankful to CNN for helping to shed a light on the challenges and support solutions for more than 1.3 million “hidden heroes” of our country — children who take care of critically ill, injured, disabled, or elderly family members.

One special “good people” will have to remain nameless.

This precious lady sent me a letter (postmarked St. Louis), containing the kindest words I’ve ever received, along with $21 in cash. It was a response to my column

“Don’t steal my cheese, my joy, or my sign.” No name, no return address, so I can’t mail back the money.

Here’s what she wrote (in part): “I am an out of town subscriber to The Destin Log and an avid reader of your columns. I have learned much from you. I was deeply saddened to read that your “Be Nice or Leave” sign which brought you joy had been stolen. While I can’t get your original sign back, I can help you get another one.

I located a (similar) sign (on the Internet) by a shop named Signs Make A Smile. It’s more costly than the original $4 one, but I am happy to cover the cost with the enclosed cash, so that once again you will have a smile and know joy. You have provided insight, wit, and life lessons (to others).

So order yourself a new sign. After all, everyone deserves a little joy, especially you!

A faithful reader….”

OK, nice, anonymous lady. I will, indeed, order a new sign, and think of your kindness whenever I look at it.

Another letter came from Voncille McLeod in DeFuniak Springs. She wrote, in response to my column, “For the caregiver: you do what you gotta do.” She confided: “I have always enjoyed your columns, but the one on caregiving in today’s paper really struck a chord with me. I was a caregiver for my mother for several years until she died … (then) my husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease that same year. I know exactly what you’re going through as I am doing the same things you are doing — as far as taking care of all his needs, my needs, and all household duties.”

More than mere commiseration, she offered some helpful contact information about receiving assistance from Emerald Coast Hospice. She agreed, “we gotta do what we gotta do.”

She concluded with “many days I cry and pray and hope God hasn’t forgotten me.”

Voncille, God hasn’t forgotten either of us. After all, He used my column and your letter to provide mutual empathy and encouragement.

He knows, as I do, that you, Dr. Siskowski, and Madame X are “good people” and “they’s good people everywhere.”

Mary Ready of Destin is a twice-retired English teacher and long-time area resident. Her columns are published on Saturdays.