A Priceless Legacy
“Shhh, quiet or they’ll hear you!” Hugh whispered, perhaps a little too loudly. A hush fell over the group as they waited to make sure that the coast was clear. “Ok, Joel and Opal, get ready. Be as fast and as quiet as you can be. Remember, after you drop the bags, ring the doorbell and run as quickly as you can back here. We’ll be waiting in the car, ready for a quick getaway. Ready?” The two heads nodded in unison. “Go!”
The children, each with arms securely wrapped around as many grocery bags as they could carry, ran as stealthily as they could to the front door of the home selected for a secret delivery. The home belonged to Andrew, a classmate of Joel’s. Over the past few months Joel had watched Andrew withdraw from his classmates, as well as, his normally outgoing and cheerful personality become one of silence, sadness and a heaviness that Joel couldn’t quite put his finger on. Finally, after much coaxing, Andrew confessed that his dad had lost his job and they didn’t have enough food lately. Joel comforted his friend as best he knew how then later related the story to his mom and dad. Without hesitation the dad told the children to get their coats on and get in the car. With excitement, Nell grabbed her purse and the baby knowing exactly what her husband was thinking. They arrived at the grocery store where the children were handed a list of supplies hurriedly penned in the car by their mother.
“These are the items that we will get for Andrew’s family and you each can pick a special treat for the kids,” Nell said as she shifted the baby to her other hip.
After all of the supplies had been located, they paid the bill and made their plan for the secret drop. They drove past Andrew’s house and parked around the corner just far enough not to be seen, but close enough for the kids to run back to before being caught. Joel and Opal set down the bags, trying to keep them from making too much noise, rang the doorbell, then ran back to their car, giggling with excitement the entire way. Jumping into the car, they closed the doors and watched as Andrew’s dad opened the front door. He immediately saw the four bags stuffed full of food sitting on the porch in front of him. After looking around, only to find no one, he called to his wife and kids. Excitement filled their faces and tears filled the parents eyes as they read the card which Nell had placed on top.
‘You have been selected for a random act of kindness. Please accept this humble gift, given in love, as a token of our appreciation for you and your family. We hope that this will be a blessing to you and that one day you can do the same for someone else.
With much love,
Hugh quietly drove away and his family was never found out. The next day at school, Joel noticed a long absent smile on Andrew’s face and even heard him laugh once.
Not a one-time event, this is how Hugh, Nell, Joel, Opal and baby Mayme lived their lives; in humble generosity, helping whenever they could, always watching to see where they could meet a need in someone’s life. There are countless other examples of giving blankets and jackets to the homeless, volunteering at a food bank or serving a warm meal to those who had none, weeding the elderly widow’s yard, serving in church, and on and on, often giving when they themselves didn’t have that much to give.
The years passed on, their lives of love lived out, the children grown, but home for the Christmas holiday. Sitting around the fire reflecting over many wonderful memories, Hugh became rather serious as he began, “Kids, I’ve been thinking a lot over the past few months about what kind of father I have been and the example I have tried to set for you. We, your mother and I, have tried to show you honesty, love, selflessness and kindness. We don’t have a lot as far as worldly possessions to leave you, but we hope we have taught you how to love others.”
All three children gathered at their father’s feet and the girls agreed with Joel as he looked at his father with tear-filled eyes and said, “Dad, you have left us something far more valuable than any amount of money or worldly possession. You and mom have left us an inheritance of generosity and how to look beyond our own lives and into the lives of others to help with their needs, celebrate their joys and share their successes. We have more memories of wonderful living, life impacting moments and abundant love to fill two lifetimes. We would never trade those things for any amount of money! You have given us a treasure more valuable than you realize and we are all going to raise our children the exact same way.”
Hugh burst into tears as they all hugged, deeply grateful for his family. Nell stood up, wiped her tears, kissed each child on the top of their head and said, “What a wonderfully wise group of children we have, Hugh! I believe that they were our best gift; given to us in love.”
Many years later, after the procession dispersed, Nell, the children and grand-children stood at the gravesite, feeling the deep loss of a great man, the youngest grandchild, Amy, read the headstone which marked her grandpa’s resting place. With her sweet innocence and childish melodious voice, she read, ‘Hugh Peterson An example of a life lived in love, leaving a legacy of generosity.’ She bent down, kissed the headstone and whispered, “I miss you Grandpa.”
Mayme picked up her daughter, hugged her tightly, and said, “We all do, Honey, but if we follow Grandpa’s examples, he will always be with us; still giving and helping others.”
A Priceless Legacy