An Act of Kindness that Changed My Life

According to Peggy Elam at On the Whole, today bloggers are being encouraged to write about acts of human kindness, and I have a great story, so I thought I’d go ahead and tell it.

It was the winter of 2000, and I’d just had a baby.  Because of being on maternity leave and some unexpected expenses (I will never own a Mazda again), we were so far in the hole financially that I literally couldn’t see our way out of it.  I had gone back to work the day before Thanksgiving, earlier than anybody had expected me to, because the situation was just that dire.

Then, one evening, while chatting away in the chat room that The Hubster and I met in, Ed, a guy that I was friendly with popped up on my screen.  He wanted to know how I was doing.  To be quite honest, I was depressed, and felt like a black cloud followed me around (a’la cartoon), and wasn’t capable of giving him the “fine” answer I probably should have given him.  So the conversation went something like this:

Ed: Hi.  How are you?
Me: Do you want the truth, or should I just say “fine” and be done with it?
Ed: I want the truth, of course.

So I proceeded to tell him.  I told him how we’d just had a baby, and I’d gone back to work early, while The Hubster had had to give up his job to stay home and take care of the kids (I made more money than he did, so it made sense that I would be the one to continue working).  I told him how we were behind on the rent, the gas, the electric, the phone, the water… we were so far behind that I didn’t know how the hell we were going to survive.  Either we paid the rent and got all the utilities shut off and froze to death, or we paid the utilities and we ended up out on the street.  I couldn’t see how we were going to be able to pay for everything all at once, and I didn’t know what to do.

It turned out that Ed was a farmer in Mississippi, but he was originally from Minnesota.  He would be travelling within yards of my house on his way home for the holidays (we lived very close to I-95 in Illinois at the time), and he would be willing to bring us some food if we were willing to accept the help.  I really didn’t know what to say to that, so I told him that I had to discuss it with The Hubster first.

It took me a couple of days to be able to say anything to him.  I really didn’t know how to process this information.  This guy that didn’t know me, didn’t even know what I looked like, was willing to do something like this for me?  Should I accept the offer?  What kind of person would that make me?  Would I look greedy?  Would I look desperate?  (Well, I WAS desperate, but still….)  When The Hubster and I finally had a talk about it, we agreed that we would take Ed up on his offer.  We had three children (at the time) to think about; doing everything in our power to help them survive was more important than any pride the two of us had.

The day arrived, a Saturday.  I was nervous – I had only spoken to Ed via instant message and email.  I was worried about what he would think of me.  And to be quite honest, I was somewhat embarrassed by my house and the area I lived in.  Because money was so tight, we couldn’t afford to be too picky, and we lived in an area over-run with drug dealers and gang-bangers.  Needless to say, the house wasn’t all that great (it wasn’t all that bad, either, but still).  But when Ed and a friend of his drove up, I had to concentrate very hard not to let my jaw actually hit the floor.  When he said he would be willing to bring us some food, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine what he actually brought us.

180 lbs. of beef (no, that’s not a typo: one hundred and eighty pounds of beef)

2 hams

80 lbs. of potatoes

4 CASES of canned vegetables

Because of Ed’s single act of kindness, my weekly grocery shopping consisted solely of bread, cereal, and milk.  I was able to make our money stretch enough so that we were able to catch up on the rent AND the bills.  And a week before Christmas, I received an $800 check from my ex for back child support (he’s the father of Number One Daughter).  I started out the winter wondering if we were even going to have a home for Christmas, and Ed’s act of kindness set the ball rolling for one of the best Christmases we ever had.  If it hadn’t been for him, I have no doubt that by the holiday, we would have been homeless.

I never heard from Ed again.  Strangely, after that, he never logged onto that chat room again.  I was constantly asking mutual acquaintances if they’d heard from him, but no one had.  Emails went unanswered.  I have absolutely no idea what happened to the man, but the experience proved to reinforce the feeling I had about him: Ed was an angel.  In human form, maybe.  But definitely an angel – of mercy, of kindness, and maybe even a guardian angel of some sort.

And as long as I live, I will never forget him, or what he did for me and my family.

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One Response

  1. he did you such an extra favour (gave you another gift) by simply removing himself from any gratitude

    that’s the thing most people forget to do

    and i’m happy for you that you had the help you needed

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