From big trials, including a second bout with cancer, to small everyday problems, 2016 has been a roller coaster of a ride. Beyond those tribulations, life certainly has given my family much to be thankful for this year.
I’m thankful because my family has had very few hospital stays, unlike 2015. Also, my grandparents are still alive and reminding us every day how lucky we are to have them. I’m thankful for the Cubs’ 2016 World Series win and local hero Joe Maddon; thankful for hockey and the number of friends I’ve made sharing the love of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Thankful for my three best friends – Chris, Maryann and Janelle – and their constant love and support.
But I’m most thankful for the “paying it forward” movement. A kind gesture from a stranger reminds us just how good it can feel when other people look out for you without wanting anything in return. Someone pays for your coffee in the drive-through line, or perhaps someone who notices the time on your parking meter is about to expire drops a few cents in to save you from a ticket.
On Tuesday, my mother, sister and I had just come back from a week-long vacation to Disney World, thanks to For Pete’s Sake, a cancer-respite foundation. We had a smooth week, not one major problem. We should know that something always comes from nothing.
My sister, Julie, was itching to go see friends she hadn’t seen in a week. They were so anxious that the gang was back together, one friend even showed up at our house to help us unload the car.
After hanging out with friends at their local spot, my sister frantically called my mom from the side of the road.
It was nearing 11 p.m., and my mom and I were home relaxing after the trip.
She had a flat tire (clearly flat tires seem to run in the family). We have roadside assistance that covers us in cases such as these, but since we had gotten off the plane only hours before, her phone still had her location pinpointed in Florida.
She was told they were having trouble locating a driver near her location. After she told them she was, in fact, in Pennsylvania, they transferred the call and were attempting to locate someone to go help her.
While she was still talking to roadside assistance, someone came to my sister’s car door and asked if she and her friend were OK.
After telling him that they were indeed fine, but had a flat tire, he asked if she had a spare.
Luckily, she did.
The kind gentleman helped her change the tire.
He didn’t take any money, even though she offered. According to Julie, he told her: “I can’t accept this. I’m just glad I can help. Get home safe.”
He packed up his stuff and watched her get on Interstate 81, safely.
My sister has had bad luck this year with her car. Someone had smashed her windshield, and now the flat tire to end the year.
There are still kind people in this world. As Alabama so eloquently sang, there are “angels among us.”