Mother's death inspires daughter's random acts of kindness

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on February 22, 2011 at 2:42 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 22 at 3:20 PM

KENT, Wash. - They were six days that changed Jennifer Westby's life forever. Six days spent at Valley Regional Medical Center. The last six days Jennifer would ever spend with her mother.

"It's life," she says. "And, unfortunately, we were given a huge dose of reality."

Reality came unexpectedly one day when Jennifer went to visit her mother, Roberta, and found her collapsed on the living room floor. She died from one of the most severe brain hemorrhages doctors at Valley have ever seen.

Roberta was just 60-years-old.

"At that moment I just thought, 'What am I ever going to do the rest of my life without my mother?'" said Jennifer.

Jennifer and her mother were as close as close could be. She still takes a moment every night before bed to tell her mother she loves her.

"It's very hard because she's not here to say that to, and so ... I have a picture of her and I just say goodnight," said Jennifer.

As time passed, Jennifer felt the best way to heal her own heart was to honor her mother. She decided to do it in the same generous, loving way that her mother lived her life.

"I get to do something for my mom, and that was the best medicine I have ever had," said Jennifer.

For the past year Jennifer has been spending the 19th through 24th days of every month practicing random acts of kindness in her mother's memory.

"Sometimes, I just buy somebody flowers in the supermarket or pay for their cup of coffee," she says.

But this month is different. Friday marks the one-year anniversary of Roberta's death. Jennifer decided to return to the hospital where she died and "take the nightmare and turn it into a dream."

Loaded with bags of goodies, she walks into the hospital's critical care unit, looking to return some of the love and support she felt from people in her time of need. People here are dealing with their own life and death situations.

An elderly man's wife sits anxiously as doctors investigate his chest pains.A daughter waits for word about her father's severe drug withdrawls. Jennifer walks nervously into the waiting room and starts talking about her mother.

"She was just such a good person," she says, all eyes turning attentively to her. Jennifer provides some sandwiches, magazines and treats. A little boy gives her a big hug before gobbling up a cookie. It's nothing fancy, but an extravagance to those who received it.

Comfort food for the body and soul.

"It's a gift from God almost," says one young woman."It's like someone really cares."

"I lost my mother a few years ago and I think about her all the time," says another woman. "What a nice way to show her you love her."

Westby is writing a book about her experience and hopes to one day take her acts of kindness all across the country. You can find out more by visiting www.moms6days.com.
 

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