Kindness Stories – Story #1 : “The Last Leaf”

“He had been always about to paint a masterpiece, but had never yet begun it.”Kindness Stories #1

Reading: Read the short story “The Last Leaf” by O. Henry which you can find online here. I encourage you to read slowly, putting the story aside when you find yourself connecting something in it to a situation or story from your life. Pay attention to these. Write them down in your “Stories Journal” (see below). Do your best to stay mindful in your reading, treating the story as you would a treasured friend who is telling you a story from her/his life.

Stories Journal: Create something to record your reactions while you read, what I’m calling a “Stories Journal.” And by reactions I mean your thoughts, questions, ideas, connections, inspirations, etc that cause your mind to stray during your reading, however slight. Note, we’ve learned to ignore these so practice letting these “interruptions” get your attention. Believe they have something important to tell you.

Kind Action: Take time to consider from where you draw or have drawn support, both from individuals and communities. Pick one of these, current or past, and express your gratitude in a way that honors both of you. After doing so, please tell us your experience as a blog “comment” below.

Comments Section: Posting is optional in this class. However, we’ll all get a better experience if you do as it’s the only way we have to communicate with each other. That being said, I encourage you to post and I encourage you to do so twice this week. First, introduce yourself in a way that feels genuine to you. Second, share with us a short summary of any experience you have in response to the Kind Action suggestion above. Of course, please feel free to comment on the postings of others, too.


  1. Aloha! I’m a teacher in Hawaii. I enjoyed reading “The Last Leaf” and wandering where my thoughts took me and recording them in my Story Journal. I thought and wrote about this week’s Kind Action. Mahalo (thank you) Andy for the learning experience. Can we share our Story Journals here, if we like?

    1. Aloha to kukunaokala! May I ask what you teach? A LONG time ago I was a teacher of 9th grade English, then I went back to school at age 41 and got a master’s degree in Theatre Lighting Design. I have been retired for eight years now. I am 68 now and my husband and I lived in Massachusetts for 40 years. Now we have a home in Texas which we own with our son and we leave each winter for four months to enjoy skiing. Until this year we have gone to a different ski area in a different state, but we will be in Salt Lake City, UT again this year so half of my posts will come from there.

      I was very interested to see that a story by O’Henry was Andy’s first selection for our reading. O’Henry was in the collection of Short Stories I taught and my student’s could always relate to his work. It was fun to read an O’Henry story again – he is a master!

      I have been taking kindness classes for three years. It has been a unique and very different experience for me to incorporate kindness into my daily life. I am so pleased with the progress I have made and acknowledge that the encouragement from my classmates and Andy has been intrusmental to my growth. I used to notice that when taking a class I grew in leaps and bounds, but now I can see progress even when NOT in the midst of a class. However it is a true joy to be part of a class again!

      1. Aloha Linda,
        I have the marvelous opportunity to teach students grades 4-12 who experience mild / moderate learning differences / disabilities in a small Hawaiian cultural charter school on the windward side of the island of ‘O’ahu. This is like a “second career” for me. I began in Elementary Education. Then had the opportunity to “work” at home full-time to raise my 8 children. When the youngest started school, I began my “second career.” Just like my first career–never a dull moment and opportunities all day long to learn and teach kindness. 🙂

  2. Hi, I’m a retired school psychologist having worked in New York and Alaska and still work tutoring and foster parenting in northernmost Vermont. I like the idea of journaling my ideas and reactions. I’ve always kept a list of an author’s ideas or descriptions that I’ve enjoyed when reading, but never kept a record of my musings.
    I’ve felt most supported with people that practice Nonviolent Communication. Our practice of nonjudgemental acceptance has really let me accept myself and led me to be better able to support others.
    Judy in the snow has totally melted northernmost Vermont

  3. HI everyone 🙂

    I live in Brisbane, Australia. I’m a single Mum to a gorgeous 7yo boy. We both went through a rough time last year following his Dad leaving us. After getting through that very difficult period, I dedicated my life to helping others. To easing their suffering. And to bringing more kindness into our world. Blessings to you all, Meg

  4. Comment #2 (in response to the story)

    I found myself having an unusual reaction to this story. And it’s quite personal, so a little difficult to share.

    As I read the story it touched a raw nerve. As I have been in Johnsy’s position. I have been so distraught, and felt so little hope, that I wished for it to end. So many nights I went to bed, actually praying not to wake up in the morning.

    As I continued the story, I was able to see it from both sides. From Johnsy’s point of view, and then from Sue’s. And in Sue I saw my mother. And what she must have gone through during that time.

    This sentence in particular touched me:

    “”Even chances,” said the doctor, taking Sue’s thin, shaking hand in his.”

    For I saw the toll that it had on Sue. And by association what it must have had on my family.

    I finished the story extremely humbled.

    I went into the kitchen to make dinner for my son and I, and was mulling over what I had read. And out of the blue, I felt the desire (need) to dance.

    When I was young, I was a ballet dancer. I danced for 8 years, and it was a huge part of my childhood.

    This afternoon I felt compelled to dance again. And it came back to me as if it had been yesterday. And not 20 years ago.

    It soothed my soul somehow to do it.

    1. Hello Megan,

      Thank you for sharing your insights gained from reading The Last Leaf. It is always amazing how introspection can help us to cope with the difficult challenges of our lives. I love the image of you dancing, once again a child – perhaps with the same feelings…. So glad you are taking the class also. Linda

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