Yesterday, teachers across the country, were sharing random acts of kindness. Many will be known only by the teacher who gave and the blessed person who received. All of this goodwill, reminds me of something that happened a few weeks ago. Warning…this isn’t a teaching idea, tip, or freebee…it’s just a story that might lift your heart. It’s rather long, but I hope that when you read it, you think of the people that you have loved and lost and how you can find them in others all around you.
Last week, I was traveling quite late on my way home from a conference. When I arrived in ATL, I was upset because I had barely missed the 11:00 pm shuttle and was going to have to wait until 12 for the next van. I live two hours from the airport and always dread those two hours more than any of the others. I proceeded to sit on a bench…waiting and sulking, feeling quite sorry for myself. When the shuttle finally arrived, I wanted to be sure that I had a seat as quite a group had gathered. I started to sprint to the van, when out of the corner of my eye I caught a lady in a wheelchair. Now, no one would run past her, right? So I stopped and asked her if I could help. I pushed her bags to the van and then went back and got her. Now I tell you that because it is an important part of this story….
When I finally got to the van with my bags, the van was almost full. There was an older gentleman standing by the door, and me, left to board. I got in first and he followed behind, sitting beside me. When he got on, he asked the driver about the price of the ticket. He was concerned as to whether or not he had enough money. He was almost blind and had a hard time finding his money. He handed the driver a slip of paper with a phone number. The driver was super nice and called the number. The person who answered the phone told the driver where to find the older man’s money. He had just enough and we were on our way.
Now, this particular day was the day after the second anniversary of my father’s journey to heaven. I loved my daddy. He was a hard working man who raised 5 girls and was married to my mom, the love of his life for nearly 60 years. He thought that chocolate and steak dinners could solve all problems. He was raised in a large coal mining family and left there to find a better life for him and my mom (she was only 16). He often said things that might seem inappropriate and told jokes that might be offensive. He was loving, kind and helpful, but could be quite impatient. He was always there for his friends and family loving them unconditionally with his whole heart.
Are you still with me? I’m getting to the point…
Back to the van…As we were on our way, the older gentleman started to talk, not to anyone in particular, just talk. Here is where it got eerily close to home. The things he said could have come out of my father’s mouth! He was kind and soft, yet inpatient and confused. We even had to stop on the way home for him to use a gas station restroom, something that was hard for my dad near the end of his life. My heart started to break. All I could think of was how much I missed my dad. I found myself asking the older man questions so that I could see if his answer would sound like my dad. My heart was breaking for myself, but also for him. I couldn’t imagine my dad being on that shuttle….confused, scared and all alone.
The trip soon came to an end and I headed to the counter to pay for my ticket. As I was paying, I found myself talking to my dad. What would you do, dad? My dad would give you the shirt off of his back. He gave everything to his family, keeping very little for himself. So as I handed the lady my credit card, I asked her if I could be so honored as to pay for the gentleman’s ticket. Once I paid for the ticket, I handed it to the man. He tried to hand me the money and I told him it was a Merry Christmas gift. I wanted to tell him about my dad, but I didn’t think he would understand. He stopped and looked at me right in the eye. I could see my dad! He thanked me and with tears in my eyes I headed off to my car to drive the rest of the way home.
My point to this is…a random acts of kindness touched my life in a way that…. I can’t even think of the words to say. I do believe that all things happen for a reason. From the late flight, the missed shuttle, the lady in the wheel chair, the crowded shuttle, to the older man. It was all put in my path so that I could have that short visit with my dad.
This random act of kindness, while appreciated by the older gentleman, was an intentional act of kindness, an expression of unconditional love given to me by God. His acts are never random, but well planned out events that are orchestrated to show us His love for us. So as you go about your day to day life, take every opportunity to help others. God may be sending you a gift, just like He did me.