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Daughter Honors Late Mother Through Random Acts Of Kindness

7:35 AM, Oct 24, 2013   |    comments
Holly Schultz, 35, Ferndale, Mich., is honoring her late mother, Elizabeth Schultz the week of Oct. 23, 2013, with random acts of kindness. Schultz is photographed at her Ferndale home with her dogs, Pearl and Harper. (Photo: Ann Zaniewski, Detroit Free Press)
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FERNDALE, Mich. (Freep) -- A bag of quarters dangled from a parking meter pay station near the Ferndale Public Library on Tuesday.

"ENJOY YOUR VISIT TO THE LIBRARY TODAY ON ME!" read a sign that was taped on the station with the bag. At the bottom, the name "Betsy" was written in pink between two hearts.

The surprise delighted library patrons.

And Holly Schultz of Ferndale was happy to pick up their parking tabs, one of the ways she's honoring her late mother this week through random acts of kindness. Her friends and relatives are part of the effort, spreading tiny bits of cheer to people they've never met.

Schultz's mother, Elizabeth (Betsy) Schultz, died of a brain tumor five years ago Friday.

"Five years is a long time to go when someone close has passed away," said Schultz, a 35-year-old massage therapist. "When you reach that point, you realize how much you've healed and grown, but you still miss that person. ... I just thought if I could get people to do nice things in her honor, it would be a nice tribute to my mom."

On Monday, Schultz posted a message on her Facebook page challenging people to do one random act of kindness every day this week. Each day has a theme connected to Betsy's favorite things.

Monday's theme was "special coffee," the term Betsy used to describe a fancy coffeehouse drink. Schultz gave a $5 Starbucks gift card to someone in a grocery store parking lot.

Betsy also loved to read. So late Tuesday morning, Schultz found herself outside her hometown library with a sign, blue painters' tape and a plastic baggie containing about $4.50 in quarters.

Kelly Bennett, head of circulation at the library, called the gesture "a day-brightener." One patron who had forgotten to bring change was especially happy.

"We get a lot of complaints about the parking meters throughout the day," said Bennett, who snapped a photo of the sign and put it on the library's Facebook page. "It was nice to see the pay station turned into something people could be happy about."

To mark Tuesday's reading theme, one of Schultz's friends delivered a plateful of goodies to staff at the Royal Oak Public Library. Another friend made cards with some of her favorite quotes from books and put them on parked cars in Birmingham

Betsy had a sweet tooth, and Wednesday's theme was "sweet treats." Schultz passed out baggies of Hershey's Kisses to employees of businesses in Ferndale.

Other themes this week will celebrate Betsy's love of children, animals and dancing.

"I think she'd get a kick out of it," Schultz said.

Betsy Schultz was diagnosed with a glioblastoma in May 2007. When she didn't show up one day to her job as an executive secretary, her concerned boss called Holly Schultz and sent a colleague to her home in Flushing. Police were contacted. Officers found Betsy at the house, and doctors found the tumor later that day.

"The tumor burst in the middle of the night and caused a stroke," Schultz said.

Betsy had surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. She had lived on her own since a divorce years earlier and liked being independent. But the tumor and the treatments took a toll. Schultz moved in with her mother to help her out.

"She couldn't drive anymore," Schultz said. "She couldn't remember how to do simple tasks, like make scrambled eggs in the morning. But she kept a smile on her face."

Betsy Schultz died Oct. 25, 2008. She was 65.

"It's sad, and it still hurts. It's harder than I expect it to be each year," Schultz said about the anniversary of her mother's death.

In the past, Schultz marked the anniversary by having dinner with friends and posting a video about her mom on Facebook. But she felt like watching the video made people sad.

"I don't want this day to be sad anymore," Schultz said. "I want it to be more like a celebration of who she was, and the fact that she was such a good person."

As of Wednesday, Schultz and her friends, co-workers and a cousin had performed more than 30 random acts of kindness.

"Every day, people keep telling me how much fun they're having," Schultz said. "It's bringing so much happiness to people. I think (my mom) would just love that."

Written By: Ann Zaniewski , Detroit Free Press

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