When I was a teenager, probably about 13, my mother taught me a very valuable lesson I’ve never forgotten. We were grocery shopping in a small store one day when I noticed a family come into the store. It looked like a mother, her daughter, and her granddaughter. They were clean but dressed in worn clothes, and it was obvious they were less fortunate. They pushed a cart through the store, carefully selecting items, mostly generic, and all necessary foods.
My mother and I finished our shopping and headed toward the clerk to pay. As we got there, the family was in front of us, with one person in between. As I watched the family place groceries on the conveyor belt, I heard the mother ask the clerk every so often to subtotal, as she only had so much to spend. This took a while, and the person in front of me was getting noticeably impatient and even started mumbling things which I’m sure were overheard.
When the store clerk did a final total, the woman did not have enough money, so she began pointing to different food items to put back. My mother reached in her purse, pulled out a twenty dollar bill and handed it to the woman. The woman looked very surprised and said, “I can’t take that!” My mother looked directly at the woman and quietly replied, “yes, you most certainly can. Consider it a gift. There’s nothing in that cart you don’t really need, so please accept it.” The woman then reached out and took the money, squeezing my mom’s hand for just a moment, and with tears running down her cheeks, said “Thank you very much. No one’s ever done nothin’ like this for me before.”
I know I left the store with tears in my eyes, and it is something I will cherish forever. You see, my parents raised six children and didn’t have a whole lot of money themselves, although I can never remember wanting for anything. I’m very happy to say that I inherited her caring heart. I have given selflessly before, and there is not a better feeling in the whole world!
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