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Nonagenarian: Random acts of kindness abound
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Doris Palmquist was getting ready to load up her purchases at Costco when a young woman jumped out of her car and rushed to her side.

“Can I help you put those things in your car?” she asked Palmquist.

“I guess I could use some help,” said the pleasantly surprised great-grandmother of eight.

As soon as the young woman was done putting all of Palmquist’s purchases in the trunk of her car, she ran back to her idling vehicle saying “Merry Christmas!” and then drove away.

“I thought that was so sweet!” said the nonagenarian mother of three, grandmother of nine, and great-grandmother of eight about the random act of kindness she received last week while out shopping at the Stadium Retail Center in Manteca.

“I’m 90 years old and I carry a cane, and I bought some really heavy items,” which is probably what prompted the young woman to run up and offer a helping hand, Palmquist said.

While she may have appeared frail to the young Good Samaritan at Costco, Palmquist is fiercely independent and spry for her age.

“I still drive. I went and took the (DMV) test in August this year and I thought they’ll probably give me a year (of driver’s license extension) because of my age. They gave me five years!” Palmquist said with a laugh.

“I drive to Stockton and Modesto. I have come home from the Sacramento Airport alone. But I refuse to drive to the Bay Area. The traffic is just horrible!” she said, recalling the times when she had to take her oldest daughter to San Francisco where she was receiving cancer treatment at a hospital there. Sadly, her daughter succumbed to her illness three years ago.

Palmquist lost her husband in 1993. He had been wheelchair-bound for 18 years because of MS (muscular dystrophy). It was his illness which prompted their move from Tracy to Manteca in 1988.

“The big move of the year,” she laughingly commented.

“I had a split-level home in Tracy and my husband had to go down some steps to get in the bedroom and he kept falling down all the time,” said Palmquist who retired from the Tracy Police Department where she worked as dispatcher. She also worked at other jobs in Manteca including a six-year stint at the now-defunct Allen’s Jewelry when it was owned by Jan Brown and her late husband, and for a shorter time at the also now-defunct Porterfield’s Jewelry on Maple Avenue in downtown Manteca. Her late husband was a railroad engineer for Southern Pacific where he worked for 37 years until he retired. He was 79 when he died.

Palmquist may be staunchly independent but she is also extremely grateful for the unsolicited gestures of kindness she receives from various people.

One of her neighbors, for example, who is also retired and is in his 50s has taken it upon himself to pick up in her driveway the two daily newspapers that she subscribes to – the Manteca Bulletin and The Record – and put them up by her front door “so that I don’t have to go outside in the cold,” Palmquist said.

“I think that’s very sweet of him. I never asked him to do it. He just does it out of kindness.”

Then there’s “another lady” living in her cul-de-sac neighborhood who “makes the best lasagna I’ve ever eaten,” said Palmquist.

The neighbor knows how much Palmquist loves lasagna. So every evening that she makes the dish for her family, the neighbor always makes sure to bring some of it to a delighted Palmquist.

And while many of today’s youth often get a bum rap about being impolite and rowdy, Palmquist’s own experience with the young generation is quite the opposite.

“When young boys open the doors for me, I tell them: ‘oh, your mother raised you right, didn’t she?’ I’ve been to IHOP (restaurant) – and the doors down there are heavy – and they’ll be somebody to open the door for me, young fellows who do that. They really have good manners. I’ve been very fortunate to have those random acts of kindness,” Palmquist said.