Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
It felt like a big group hug, a few dozen thumbs up, a kindness that warmed her heart and reinforced her hunch that she was right to share her story about a nasty anonymous note she received about a sign in her front yard.
Patsy’s story appeared in this column last Monday, a week after the obscenity-laced, uppercased letter addressed to OCCUPANT RESIDENT arrived in the mail and ordered her in no uncertain terms to take her yard sign and shove it up – well, you get the idea.
The sign is one that has been popular for years around the country, this one localized with a Zia symbol behind the words: “In this house we believe … No human is illegal. Love is love. Science is real. Women’s rights are human rights. Black lives matter. Water is life. And kindness is everything.”
Kindness was nothing to the angry letter writer. But Patsy said she hoped that by telling her story she could show that she wasn’t about to shove anything or take any sign down, because she believes in the sign’s message and in kindness.
She believes love conquers hate.
It sure seemed others did, too, judging from how her phone kept ringing and social media kept singing her praise.
“A neighbor posted the column on Facebook and, my goodness, the response was amazing,” she said. “It feels good.”
I received a lot of emails and calls, too, most of them positive, a few not so much. A couple of readers told me they believed they had also received letters from the same person. Others, including Donese Mayfield, shared their experience with the Kindness sign.
Mayfield wrote that one evening her doorbell rang and she went outside to find a clean-cut young man in “reasonable clothes” standing at her front gate and pointing to the sign.
The young man, she wrote, “said something that made me think he was asking for food.”
She went back inside, microwaved a couple of frozen cheeseburgers while her husband grabbed a bag of chips. They gave the food to the grateful young man.
“I had to look at the sign to see what encouraged him to ring my doorbell,” she wrote. “Last line – ‘and Kindness Is Everything’!”
Judy Goering has had her sign up since 2017, despite the threats of a neighbor hungry for a fight.
She and the neighbor and his wife had previously been cordial to each other. They had never spoken about the sign until a year later when inexplicably the man suddenly demanded that Goering take it down, citing HOA covenants she knew did not exist.
He called the sign “trash,” she said.
The man eventually admitted that the part of the sign that irked him concerned Black Lives Matter because he didn’t want “those people” in the neighborhood, she said.
“Well, that set me right off,” she wrote. “As I walked down my driveway spouting facts related to each of the statements on the sign, I got to inches from him with my finger pointing right at him. His wife had now joined him and was upset and trying to get him to go home. He said he knew powerful people in the state/city government and that he was going to sue me. I laughed and said go ahead. He left in a huff.”
No lawsuit ever materialized. The man died a few months ago. His wife moved away. And the sign still stands, as do five other Kindness Is Everything signs, by Goering’s count, in her neighborhood.
Several readers condemned the nasty note but took issue with Patsy’s sign. Jane Schwendeman called some of the beliefs mentioned on the sign “liberal claptrap.” A reader who wanted to be known only as Jim called the beliefs “provocative virtue signaling.”
He and reader Rod Billingsley suggested that while such signs may convey the views of many Albuquerque-area residents, those with dissimilar views aren’t afforded the same opportunity to display their beliefs.
“Patsy’s sign included several political statements in the same way wearing a MAGA cap makes a political statement,” Billingsley wrote. “I don’t know how compassionate your column would have been if the assault had been directed at someone on the opposite side.”
Some readers wanted to buy the signs, among them Dick Brackett, who plans to buy 10 or more of them for his neighborhood.
“It would be a good thing if this attitude is spread around, all over Albuquerque, for people to see,” he said.
Anne Eisfeller, who lives near Patsy, wanted her to know that their neighborhood loves and supports her.
“I think there will be more signs like hers blossoming here,” she said.
And then there was Lloyd Irwin, who in a few words expressed what Patsy hoped her story conveyed.
“All the hatred is very sad,” he wrote. “We all just have to do what we can to spread love.”
If we could do just that, it would be a pretty good sign.
UpFront is a front-page news and opinion column. Reach Joline at 730-2793, firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook or @jolinegkg on Twitter.