DAILY PROMPT The Kindness of Strangers: When was the last time a stranger did something particularly kind, generous, or selfless for you? Tell us what happened!
I never really knew those people even though our lives were intimately intertwined. The action they took that night was probably not especially kind, generous or selfless, yet without it? I wouldn’t be here. There’s some generosity there. I know my grandmother would have thought so. Life was a gift of parents to children. She believed this in her innermost soul.
“Mrs. Beall, you have seven children already and your family is dirt poor! Don’t you think you could at least say ‘No’ to Sherman?”
“It wouldn’t be right, sir. I think of all those little hands reaching down from Heaven wanting to live.” (This from a woman who NEVER entered a Catholic church and NEVER saw actual plaster angel hands reaching down for the dead at the Last Judgment). And so three more children entered the house of Harriet Emma and Sherman Beall of Hardin, Montana. One of these was my mom.
I’m pretty sure it was the first of May, 1951, the anniversary of their engagement. My dad was a grad student and my mom a school teacher. They weren’t rich, but I think they might have been able to go out to a nice restaurant that night and probably even dancing. I’m guessing they went to Little Pepinas, back then a fancy Italian restaurant in North Denver. It was red-checkered tablecloths, Chianti bottles hanging from a latticed ceiling, tall wine glasses and red sauce.
They might have gone dancing at Elitch’s Gardens; it’s very likely. It was nearby and the dance floor and band were the best in Denver at the time. My mother probably wore a wrist corsage of gardenias.
After a romantic evening, they came home in the 1949 Ford. Home at the time was a rental house on South Cherokee not far from the University of Denver. And then? She left it in the drawer. Nine months later my little hands found their way into the world.
As for whether this was an act of selfless generosity and kindness on the part of strangers, I cannot say. My dad didn’t want a family and mother did, desperately enough to lie to my dad about her diaphragm. That I wasn’t especially cute, friendly or easy to deal with might have been the karmic debt my mom had to pay for having lied to my dad. But I’m glad I’m here and grateful that they had that wild night on the town back in 1951. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom wherever you are.
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