By Randall McNeely
There are times in life when two people connect in what seems to be a random way and end up forging a friendship that changes their lives forever. Such was the case with Noel and Maria.
It was time to move’ which meant it was time to do a yard sale to get rid of as much of the eleven-year clutter accumulation as possible.
Noel Carter (name changed) was putting the finishing touches on items for a yard sale when she started hearing a rhythmic thunk, thunk, thunk, coming up the driveway.
“What’s that?” Noel asked her husband.
Noel turned to see a woman in tattered clothes and very disheveled hair slowly making her way up the driveway. She walked out of the garage to meet her.
“Is there a yard sale goin’ on here?” Came a raspy voice.
“Well, yes. We’re not quite open yet,” Noel said, “but we’re trying to get it together. If you want to start looking around, please help yourself.
“Have you eaten yet?” she asked.
“We’ve grabbed a few things.”
“I’m going up to the corner. I’m gonna get you some corn muffins!”
“Oh ma’am, you don’t need to do that,” Noel replied. “Just look around and enjoy yourself.”
“I’m going to come back,” she said. “I see a few things.” Then off she went.
Sure enough, a short time later, she was back and handed me a package.
“I just wanted to make sure you guys had some muffins.”
“That is so kind of you.” Noel said. “You didn’t need to do that.”
“Yes, I did. I don’t know why, but I needed to do it.”
Maria (name changed), stayed with Noel the rest of the day. She became the sales lady. She pulled up a chair and parked, sunning herself as if she was on the beach at Aruba.
“Who is that lady?” Noel’s brother asked.
“I have no idea,” Noel said.
A lot of people would have told Maria to get of their property, but not Noel. “I thought to myself, ‘this is a case of someone who is very lonely, with no one to talk to,’ and I let her stay.”
My little boy came down with his coloring book. “Can I color with him,” Maria asked.
“He’s pretty shy, he might not say anything.”
Maria whispered something to my little boy, he laughed and they went and colored together and had a great time.
“Then everyone left, and she was just sitting there in the sun. My family had gone inside, and she started talking to me,” Noel said. “She shared with me that she had lost her mom a few years ago.”
“You don’t know what it is like to lose a mom. A mother is everything,” Maria said and started sobbing.
“Then I started sobbing,” Noel said, “because I was like, ‘I do know. I lost my mom just last year.’”
“Maria instantly forgot her sorrow and said, ‘I’m so sorry!’” Noel and Maria hugged. They chatted about what it was like to lose a mom and what a mother’s love feels like.
“This woman was totally different from me,” Noel said. “We had walked different paths, but we were able to connect on losing moms and it was very, very touching. A that moment I felt like I needed to be her person.”
A while later, Noel walked Maria home. There she gave Maria all the jewelry they hadn’t sold in the yard sale. “Maria cried, and I was, like, ‘Just enjoy it.’ Then I asked her if I could take a picture with her.”
“Oh no. I don’t have any teeth. I wouldn’t want anyone to see,” Maria said.
“I think you’re beautiful just the way you are,” Noel said.
They took the picture.
Noel found out that Maria’s birthday was Aug. 23. Noel and her family were moving on August 30th. Noel decided to surprise Maria and take her out to lunch.
“I had gifts for her and told her to get all dolled up with whatever beautiful look she wanted and just come and have a good time.”
“Well, we can’t go anywhere fancy,” Maria said. “I don’t do fancy, and I don’t like anything but plastic knives and forks. People don’t wash their stuff and I’m really weird that way.”
“That’s okay. We’ll work with whatever we have to.”
They went and had a wonderful time.
Then Noel moved, but the connection, and friendship, was strong. Noel still stays in touch with Maria and Maria, to this day, talks about that birthday and the kindness she was given.
My heart was deeply touched as Noel shared this heart-warming story with me. She didn’t have to do what she did. She chose to. She chose to show compassion, give love, and be a true friend.
Every one of us will have opportunities at one time or another in which we can be a light to someone else, just as Noel was and still is to Maria. The question we all have to ask ourselves is whether we will be a friend or be the one who says, “get off my property.”
I still believe in the genuine goodness of most people. It is my hope that I, and the majority of people will follow Noel’s example.
Has your life been touched by kindness in action, either giving or receiving? Do you have a story to share? If so, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you.
Please note that upon request, I am happy to change names to protect those who want to share but want to remain anonymous.