Wednesday, May 2, 2012

GBE #50 - The Stranger

Stranger Danger!!!! Never talk to strangers! All too often we turn strangers into something scary like the boogeyman or whatever scary thing is passed down through the generations to kids. Unfortunately, I think we often lose sight of the fact that most of our friends were once strangers who would have never have become friends if we'd held on to those early life teachings. That said, I want to tell you about a stranger who entered my and my son's lives just long enough to leave a lasting, life-long impact.

I had planned a birthday party for my son's 7th birthday. My daughter was then two and my stepdaughter's daughter was a year old and we were all living together when I made these plans. I invited Paul's cousins and a couple of his friends who lived across the street and planned on there being ten kids total at Peter Piper Pizza (a family-friendly pizzeria that offered tokens to kids and adults to play pinball and other assorted games, including the ever popular ball-pit.) If you held a party there, they'd provide all the paper products, balloons and X number of free tokens for each child with the birthday child's share totally free. So, if you brought 10 people, you paid for nine. I knew I'd be there as would be my stepdaughter my two children and her baby. 

I maintained regular contact with the family members we'd invited and saw the neighborhood friend daily, but none of them ever RSVPd about the party. But, when I asked them if they were coming, they all, to a person, said they'd be there. I reminded all of them the morning of the party and we all went to PPP where everything was set up for a party. Paul was excited and our littlest kids really didn't grasp it yet. And, we waited. And waited. And waited.

This was before cell phones, so we weren't able to contact anyone to find out why they weren't there. Finally, my stepdaughter took the car and went to get an older cousin so we'd at least have someone there for Paul's birthday. While she was gone, a woman and her adult daughter came up to me and asked what was going on. By this time, I was angry and almost in tears, and my son's heart was broken, that even his family hadn't cared enough to show up, not even his father. I explained this to them and they shared their condolences over this failed effort at a happy day for a young boy, took their pizza and left.

My stepdaughter returned and had cousin Teo in tow. At least we could have some kind of party, even if it wasn't the kind we'd planned and promised. We had ordered pizza and drinks for just us (the pizzeria had kindly given us a few more tokens for Paul to play as they felt bad as well) and we were sitting and enjoying the pizza when the woman and daughter who had stopped by earlier came walking back in with their arms loaded with WRAPPED gifts for my son!! We were astounded!!

They had felt so bad for my son that they'd gone shopping and had the gifts wrapped to bring back for this little boy whose own family had failed to show up as promised. They said no child should ever be without a gift on his birthday. My son was wide-eyed at their generosity and I was just dumbfounded. I'd never confronted such largess in my life. I knew it existed, but I'd never experienced it. They each hugged Paul and as quickly as they'd arrived, they left. We never got their names.

To this day, my son remembers that day, as do I. And, my son has become one of the most generous people I've ever known. He leaves large tips, cooks huge meals and gives much of it to friends he knows are down and out, and is willing to help anyone in need. If I mention that day, he remembers it with the same degree of awe that he had that day. I wholeheartedly believe that those two women planted a seed that took root in Paul and continues to grow today.

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Blogger Jo said...

That is a wonderful story and such a giant blessing for you and your son. Bless those ladies and know in your heart they were rewarded many times over for that thoughtful act of compassion. ♥

May 2, 2012 at 10:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got teary. Those women brought something far greater than gifts to your son and he continues the tradition. Lovely. just lovely.

May 3, 2012 at 8:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a fabulous story! This one made me teary. I love what those women did and really love that the kindness they showed is living on in your son. Pay it forward, indeed!

May 3, 2012 at 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is one of the most beautiful stories I've ever read. It brought tears to my eyes. This is a story of hope!

May 3, 2012 at 3:30 PM  
Blogger angelaparsonmyers said...

What a wonderful story. To those women, their actions probably seemed of little importance. Yet to you and your son, they were of utmost importance and probably affected the kind of man your son has grown up to be. I think it's a reminder for us to be mindful of our actions and above all, always be kind.

May 3, 2012 at 10:49 PM  
Blogger pbquig said...

This is what "Paying it forward" is all about.

May 4, 2012 at 12:12 AM  
Blogger Suzy said...

What a heart-warming story. Your son sounds like a wonderful young man.

May 4, 2012 at 3:19 AM  
Blogger Amy Morgan said...

Tugged at my heart strings. It is amazing once those seeds are planted how they grow into the kind young man you have today.

May 4, 2012 at 2:09 PM  
Blogger Paula Martin said...

Fantastic story - how good to know there are still kind 'strangers' in this world.

May 5, 2012 at 11:45 AM  

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