A Short Story of Kindness, Told by a Dentist in December

Here is a brief story that was written a handful of years ago that illustrates a simple act of kindness around Christmastime. I like it because it motivates me to do something nice for someone else:

“I am a dentist by profession. [Last December], my receptionist informed me that an acquaintance of hers was coming into my office. She had problems with two of her teeth. She knew this woman and told me of her circumstances. The woman carried many burdens. The family business, which she ran, was doing poorly, and the family was three months behind in paying rent. They had five children, many grown into adulthood, but all had moved back home because of difficult personal circumstances. By sheer force of will, she had kept her family together for some time. Now two teeth were broken.

“The woman arrived for her appointment and explained about her dental problem. She asked if I would allow her to pay her bill over time. She explained to me that her family had experienced several financial reversals and were just recently starting to pay some overdue bills.

“I assured her that her credit was good with me. She asked if I could repair just one of the two broken teeth at that time. I assured her that I could, and we began.

“Since I had the time, I repaired both teeth, for which she was grateful. When the work was completed, . . . I told her that if she would not be offended, I should like to make a Christmas present of the dental work, for which there would be no bill. She was astonished. I could sense the depth of the stress and strain she had carried, as uncontrollable tears of gratitude gushed forth due to a small, simple act of kindness. It must have been years since someone showed her some little favor. Not able to speak, she made her way out.

“Both my assistant and receptionist were so moved by her reaction that they also [shed] tears and could hardly speak. I, on the other hand, was doubly glad. One part, in seeing such a simple act have such a happy effect on another. And the second part, for once in my life having a patient in my office crying for joy and not for pain! 

“To you, my very best wishes.

“Sincerely,

“A brother in the gospel.”

(From Thomas S. Monson, “What is Christmas?” Liahona, Dec. 1998, 4-5.)

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