So last week I get in to work and there's an envelope sitting on my desk. Someone has written on the envelope:
Mr. Avila, Severo at Rome Newspaper.
Please publish this article about this fine man...an angel!
Please give to Mr. Severo Avila
Please and Thank you !!
And there are little stars drawn on the envelope.
Of course, I'm intrigued so I open the envelope and there's a typed letter inside. There's no name on the letter but the author claims to be an older lady who wants me to share with y'all that there are "still very good people left in this world even though there is so much turmoil present."
The lady claims that a few weeks ago she was walking down the street after just leaving Floyd Medical Center where she had surgery on her hand. Her son was supposed to pick her up but he didn't show.
So she started wandering around looking for him. It was about 8 p.m. and she said it was getting colder and she became very worried being by herself.
Well out of nowhere, a "nice young man" stopped his car on the side of the road, got out and asked her if she needed help. She explained the situation and the man held her hand and walked her back to the hospital saying it would be warmer there and they'd figure out what to do next.
Back at the hospital, the man stayed with her and reassured her that they'd find her son. The lady said that the kind man stayed with her for about an hour until her son finally arrived then he walked her out to the parking lot and led her safely to her son's car once he arrived.
The lady said she remembers that the man told her he was a local dentist and that his name was "Ellingwood" or "Ellington."
"He was the nicest man," she wrote, "and I remember thinking that if I still had my real teeth that I would love going to see him because of his sweet demeanor and kindness. But I have false teeth anyways, so oh well."
The letter continues to say that some time later the lady was speaking with a friend who told her about a kind dentist who had pulled her teeth for free since she couldn't afford it. She was in pain and he removed the tooth and "didn't bother charging her a thing for it, saying it was the least he could do to help out a fellow human being."
Turns out, the name of this kind dentist was again "Ellington."
Now I happen to know a Dr. Kent Ellington who's a dentist here in town and who I think is a pretty cool guy and this sounds like something he'd do. So I called him to ask if any of the lady's letter sounded familiar.
He said he does remember taking care of an older lady at the hospital and waiting with her till her son showed up. And he said he can't remember the other lady specifically because he has, on several occasions, done dental work for people who need it but couldn't afford it. He was surprised that the older lady would make such a big deal out of their encounter when he thinks he did nothing special and that most people would help someone in need.
But the lady's letter was very clear on what she thought about him.
She ended the letter by saying:
"If you're out there somewhere Dr. Ellington, please know that I am thankful for your kindness to me and my friend who needed help with her tooth. I love you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. God bless you and your family. You didn't have to help me and you did for no reason."
The other day I was talking to a Rome Middle School class about finding the "gold" inside ourselves — the great things about ourselves that we can share with others. I told them it's important to recognize those things in ourselves but it's also really important that when we see those things in others, that we let them know. We're always quick to call people out when we're unhappy with something they've done. Let's all (me included) be just as quick to let people know when they've done something we appreciate.
Now as y'all know from previous columns that my dentist is Dr. Kyle Rush and I think he hung the dang moon and I wouldn't dream of going anywhere else. BUT it sounds to me like Dr. Kent Ellington is a pretty great guy too and our community is lucky to have him.
We can all stand to be a little more patient and a little more generous and a little more gentle with our neighbors. Be kind to each other. We're all in this community together.
Severo Avila is features editor for the Rome News-Tribune