Posted by Ronan Scully in Features.

Sometimes people come into our lives and we know right away that they were meant to be there, to serve some purpose, whether it is to teach us a lesson or to help us figure out who we are or who we want to become. Sometimes things happen us that seem horrible, painful or unfair, but on reflection, we find that without overcoming those obstacles we would never have realised our potential. The people we meet affect our lives, the success and downfalls we experience help to create who we are and who we become. The following story might help to explain what I am thinking.

Random acts of kindness

This young man was driving home one evening, on the old Loughrea to Galway road. Work in his community was almost as slow as his beat-up Ford Focus but he never quit looking. Ever since the factory closed, he’d been unemployed and with winter coming on, the chill had finally hit home. It was starting to get dark and light rain was coming down. He’d better get a move on. You know, he almost didn’t see the old lady, stranded on the side of the road. But even in the dusk, he could see she needed help. So he pulled up in front of her Mercedes and got out. Even with the smile on his face, she was worried. No one had stopped to help, for the previous hour or so. Was he going to hurt her?

He didn’t look safe. He looked poor and hungry. He could see that she was frightened, standing out there in the cold. He knew how she felt. It was that chill which only fear can put in you. He said, “I’m here to help you. You wait in the car where it’s warm? By the way, my name is Fearghal.”

Well, all she had was a flat tyre, but for an old lady that was bad enough. Fearghal crawled under the car looking for a place to put the jack, skinning his knuckles a time or two. Soon he was able to change the tyre. As he was tightening up the lug nuts, she rolled down the window and began to talk to him. She told him that she was from Dublin and was only passing through. She couldn’t thank him enough for coming to her aid. Fearghal just smiled as he closed her boot.

She asked him how much she owed him. Any amount would have been all right with her. She had already imagined all the awful things that could have happened had he not stopped. Fearghal didn’t think twice about the money. This was not a job to him. This was helping someone in need, and God knows there were plenty who had given him a hand in the past. He had lived his whole life that way and it never occurred to him to act any other way. He told her if she really wanted to pay him back, the next time she saw someone who needed help, she could give that person the assistance they they needed, and Fearghal added “…and you can think of me.” He waited until she started her car and drove off. It had been a cold and depressing day, but he felt good as he headed for home, disappearing into the twilight.

A few miles down the road the lady saw the lights of a small café. She went in to grab a bite to eat and warm up before she made the last leg of her trip home  The waitress came over and brought a clean towel to wipe her wet hair. She had a sweet smile, even though she had been on her feet for the whole day. The old lady wondered how someone who had so little could be so giving to a stranger. Then she remembered Fearghal…

After the lady finished her meal, and the waitress went to get change for a €100 note, the lady slipped right out the door. She was gone by the time the waitress came back. She wondered where the lady coud be, then she noticed something written on the napkin under which were four €100 notes. There were tears in her eyes when she read what the lady wrote. It said: “You don’t owe me anything, I have been there too. Somebody once helped me out the way I’m helping you. If you really want to pay me back, here is what you do: Do not let this chain of love end with you.”

Well, there were tables to clear, sugar bowls to fill, and people to serve but the waitress made it through another day. That night when she got home from work and climbed into bed, she was thinking about the money and what the lady had written.

How could the lady have known how much she and her husband needed it? With the baby due the following month, it was going to be hard. She knew how worried her husband was, and as he lay sleeping next to her, she gave him a soft kiss and whispered soft and low “Everything’s gonna be all right—I love you, Fearghal.”

Thought for the week

As your thought for the week, try practicing acts of love and kindness and if you are the beneficiary of a loving or kind act, why not pass it on. We are never prepared for what we receive.