7.14.2011

The Kindness Boomerang

Kindness is such a hard thing to give away because, like a boomerang, it always comes back.
   Take my sister, Debra, for example. She’s one of the kindest people I know. She makes friends so easily and is always there to lend a helping hand.  She’s the kind of person who always leaves a thank-you note on your pillow after a stay at your house or sends flowers to express her gratitude for something you've done. Her greatest gift recently was walking her late-neighbor’s elderly son, Bill, through his last few years and ultimately his last days of life. Somewhat socially awkward, Bill had a true friend in Debra. She took excellent care of him and she misses him every day now that he’s gone. Still working to settle his estate, Debra has frequent reminders of Bill.  But, in an interesting twist of fate, their roles have kind of reversed this week and he’s become her guardian angel, God’s right hand, maybe even St. Anthony's helper, taking care of her. Here’s an abbreviated excerpt from Debra’s story the morning after her purse was snatched:
   The first thing I did yesterday was call Bill’s personal banker; his name is Chris and he has been very good to both Bill and me since January. I told him about my misfortune and he was able to put a stop payment on the remaining checks that were in my purse. I then called the State treasurer and asked them to cancel that check of Bill’s that I hadn’t deposited yet, and although they were very kind and sympathetic to my plight, they could do nothing for 30 days.
    Throughout the day I had waves of anxiety mixed with hope. Would my purse be sitting on my porch when I got home?  Perhaps they would be plagued by pangs of remorse and bring it back. That happened to my sister once, the thief actually mailed the contents of her wallet to her house, but by then she had replaced everything of course. I do not and have not lived in fear. I do not want to start now. With this in mind, I started to pray for the thief and kept on working.
    When I got home from work, I had two messages, one from the bank, the other from the police. Chris’ message said that a woman showed up at the bank attempting to cash a check written out to her from Bill for $500 from Bill’s account!!  Needless to say I quickly returned his call to get additional details. He told me that at the time she came in, he “just happened” to be walking behind the teller when he saw Bill's name on the check. He promptly stepped in and told the teller that he was Mr. Fairbanks’ personal banker and he would take care of it. He asked the woman how she knew Bill, and she told him that she had done some work for him and that he paid her, blah, blah, blah. He said that he played it cool and collected the check and her ID, assuring her that he simply needed to verify some details and he would be right back. He went into the vault and called the police. The long and short of it is that the police came, arrested her and the woman in the get-away car. He was able to talk directly to the police, tell them about his relationship with Bill and me, that Bill was deceased and that he talked to me just hours prior, that my purse had been stolen and I had canceled the checks. All very tidy.
   Let’s go back to the part where Chris “just happened” to be walking behind the teller and the exact time the woman was presenting the check and in that bank. As a personal banker, it’s not typical that he walks behind tellers. Hmmm . . .is it odd or is it God?  Chris said that they were pulling all sorts of stuff out of the car, but he didn’t know if my purse was in the car. By the time I called the police back, the officer assigned to the case was off duty and no one else could answer my questions. I will be able to call after 7 today. The anticipation is steep!
    God has a plan, perhaps to help this woman get to her bottom, perhaps to give a very good personal banker a fun and exciting day, or maybe to show me that I can find a treasure in every trial, that I do not have to crumble under adversity and that God continues to provide me with everything I need, purse or no purse.
   As a coincidental aside, Bill generously gave money to all sorts of religious organizations, so he still gets prayer cards, medallions, rosaries and things like that in the mail with donation requests dailySeveral of these have centered around St. Anthony, patron saint of lost and stolen articles, so Debra’s been praying these St. Anthony prayers, not cause she believes in it, necessarily, but just as another way to keep Bill’s memory alive. So we’re pretty sure that Bill is watching over her to somehow repay her kindness.
   Yesterday, Debra got a call from a bartender down the street who actually found her half-empty purse. As you can imagine, she’s gushing with gratitude and just plain joyful about being reunited with some of her stuff. And on her agenda today? To take a box of gourmet chocolates along with hand-written thank-you notes to a conscientious personal banker and the honest fella who helped her purse find its way home.  The kindness continues.

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