The Burdens of Another

686786-car-for-a-homeI was driving home from a meeting this evening about 5, stuck in traffic on Colorado Blvd., and the car started to choke and splutter and die – I barely managed to coast, cursing, into a gas station, glad only that I would not be blocking traffic and would have a somewhat warm spot to wait for the tow truck. It wouldn’t even turn over. Before I could make the call, I saw a woman walking out of the “quickie mart ” building, and it looked like she slipped on some ice and fell into a Gas pump, so I got out to see if she was okay

When I got there, it looked more like she had been overcome by sobs than that she had fallen; she was a young woman who looked really haggard with dark circles under her eyes. She dropped something as I helped her up, and I picked it up to give it to her. It was a nickel. At that moment, everything came into focus for me: the crying woman, the ancient Suburban crammed full of stuff with 3 kids in the back (1 in a car seat), and the gas pump reading $4.95.

I asked her if she was okay and if she needed help, and she just kept saying ” don’t want my kids to see me crying,” so we stood on the other side of the pump from her car. She said she was driving to California and that things were very hard for her right now. So I asked, “And you were praying?” That made her back away from me a little, but I assured her I was not a crazy person and said, “He heard you, and He sent me.”

I took out my card and swiped it through the card reader on the pump so she could fill up her car completely, and while it was fuelling, walked to the next door McDonald’s and bought 2 big bags of food, some gift certificates for more, and a big cup of coffee. She gave the food to the kids in the car, who attacked it like wolves, and we stood by the pump eating fries and talking a little.

She told me her name, and that she lived in Kansas City Her boyfriend left 2 months ago and she had not been able to make ends meet. She knew she wouldn’t have money to pay rent Jan 1, and finally in desperation had finally called her parents, with whom she had not spoken in about 5 years. They lived in California and said she could come live with them and try to get on her feet there. So she packed up everything she owned in the car. She told the kids they were going to California for Christmas, but not that they were going to live there.

I gave her my gloves, a little hug and said a quick prayer with her for safety on the road. As I was walking over to my car, she said, “So, are you like an angel or something?” This definitely made me cry. I said, “Sweetie, at this time of year angels are really busy, so sometimes God uses regular people.”

It was so incredible to be a part of someone else’s miracle. And of course, you guessed it, when I got in my car it started right away and got me home with no problem. I’ll put it in the shop tomorrow to check, but I suspect the mechanic won’t find anything wrong. Sometimes the angels fly close enough to you that you can hear the flutter of their wings…

That story has made the rounds for years now. It was touching the time I first saw it although I had no idea if it was true or not. This morning a friend saw fit to place it in my ‘in-box’. Being moved again by the tale, I searched on-line for its validity and surprisingly found the story may be true. For instance, snopes.com called it “undetermined” but noted that a spokesperson for Hospice of Metro Denver indicated “one of its doctors was the author”.

Even with all the imposters, panhandlers and crooks working to fleece people of their money, I still believe there are a few who are honest who deserve help. Just last weekend a friend and I were approached by a man with a sob story about an injured child. Usually I don’t give such people any money, but this time I took a chance with $5 telling the man “if you’re dishonest and just working me for money, shame on you. It’ll be your bad karma.” My intentions were pure and good. Ultimately that is all that matters. I am grateful for my soft and caring heart.

No one is useless in this world
who lightens the burdens of another.
Charles Dickens