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How do you want to be remembered?

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Yesterday I was stopped at a red light. As the light turned green I slowly veered right when I saw three teenagers crossing the crosswalk.

I stopped, being the good and responsible driver that I am, and waited for them to cross. Like many teenagers, they took their sweet time. Moving at a snail's pace they even paused briefly in the middle of the intersection to laugh at something on one of their cellphones.

I tapped impatiently at my steering wheel.

'Take your time,' I muttered to myself as my annoyance grew. As they stepped on the sidewalk I caught the eye of one of them and I just shook my head. For some reason, I wanted them to know that I didn't appreciate their lack of speed, or, perhaps more importantly, that I was inconvenienced and now 1.5 minutes behind on my not-so-busy schedule.

And then, as I pulled away, I immediately realized something. I was wrong. I was 100 percent wrong. Why shouldn't three friends walk together, albeit slowly, share a laugh and enjoy themselves? What were they doing that was so terrible? Nothing. They were doing everything right. I was the one who had no reason to be irritated that a whopping ninety seconds had been taken from me.

Which brings me to my point. What I experienced yesterday in my car is another daily reminder on one of life's more simple lessons that needs to be recognized and observed.

Kindness wins.

Had I greeted that teenager who caught my eye in the crosswalk with a smile rather than with a disgusted shake of the head, I would have felt better and he probably would have as well. Kindness goes a long way in life and I did not practice it at that one moment.

Extending good will, care and consideration doesn't cause pain, is rarely turned away and often returned. It makes a difference. Never underestimate it's power. Practice it every day.

So what is it that you want to be remembered for?

I ask my children this all of the time. A few weeks ago my husband and I were at a restaurant. Suddenly, an elderly man started choking. His wife rushed to his side but within seconds his table was surrounded by a swarm of customers all trying to help. Fortunately, the man was fine but I was impressed with the strangers, including my husband, that rushed over to see if they could offer help.

It's the same with a young man I know. I have watched him counsel and care for a young boy who recently lost his father. His kindness and empathy have been limitless. A friend of mine just moved into a new neighborhood in a new city. She came home to find a welcome sign posted to her front door and signed by her new neighbors. The list goes on but the point is, these acts of kindness brought a smile to everyone. It didn't cost anything, it was instant and it will long be remembered.

'Kindness is a language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.' - Mark Twain

Julie McGuire is a busy Lake Oswego mother of three children and a monthly columnist for the Lake Oswego Review and West Linn Tidings. When she's not playing chauffeur she writes a blog, 'From the Mudroom,' at www.fromthemudroom.com.