Monday, June 22, 2009


You may not chose to believe this story but I do and feel it wants to be told. Sometimes even I think it is just a matter of coincidence, then other times I know I met some one very special. You can judge for yourselves, I am pretty sure what side I am leaning towards.

About nine and a half years ago, I was living near a tiny town in Florida called Fort Drum. I had a home in a five acre ranchettes subdivision. Most of my neighbors were old time Floridians with country attitudes. They were the best of neighbors as long as your skin was the right color. Kind and generous to their own but really red around the collar area for those a bit different.

There was a general store/filling station in town and at that time, that was all there was in Ft. Drum. I had just come from an Okeechobee shopping trip which was 20 miles away. I stopped at the store to get a soda as it was a hot day. There was a car pulled up in front of the store with the hood up and shimmering heat from the engine distorted the air. I'm no mechanic but even I know overheating when I see it.

A black man in at least his late seventies was trying to release the radiator cap but his hands were twisted and deformed from arthritis and he was unable to remove it. Still he tried. In the car was an older woman, probably his wife and two grade school aged children, probably grandchildren. All were dressed as if going to church. They were starting to wilt in the heat.

Had that been me with the steaming car, several of the good ole boys who hung around the store would have jumped to help me. The good ole boys were there that day, just not moving to help this man and I knew they wouldn't. These men had basically good hearts as I had learned many times, but their charity was reserved for like types. No room for those any different. Parts of their hearts were closed off.

Seeing no one else helping, I approached the man and asked if I could try to remove the cap for him. He looked a bit embarrassed but let me try. I used a towel for grip, pushed down and released the cap. Remember, I was ten years younger then.

He started the car and we added water. I couldn't see any leaks but was not convinced that there been anything more than a temporarily fixed. I asked where they were going and they said they were due at a wedding in Okeechobee. They were determined to drive the 20 miles so I said I would follow them to make sure they made it. They protested but I insisted. I had been helped many times in my life when stranded and I was glad for the opportunity to" pay it forward."

So we caravaned down the road till we were about 5 miles from Okeechobee and they pulled to the side of the road. Oh oh, I thought. Over heating again. The old gentleman got out and came back to my vehicle.

"The temperature is good." he said," You don't have to follow us any more but my wife would like to talk to you."

I went to the passenger side of the car and she covered my hand with both of hers.

'I just want to thank you." she said. Then she said something very strange as she still held on to my hand. "You have a hard,scary time coming soon child, but you will be just fine. Today has been noted."

Not knowing just how to respond to such a strange statement, I just told them to enjoy the wedding and waved as they left, turned my vehicle around and went home.

A hard time did come and it was of the blue. Less than a month after that, I was diagnosed with cancer of the bladder. It has not been a smooth ride with many surgeries, but actually, I am "just fine." After all, I am here and with all original body parts. Am I applying obscure statements to an unrelated event? I don't think so. Do I believe I met someone special that day? Yes I do.


  1. Yes you did meet someone special.

    I have a story about randomly finding a scripture in a hospital room which was so comforting I carry it in my purse today.

    I had just been diagnosed with kidney cancer, in a strange hospital away from home under emergency circumstances. Grasping for comfort from any source, I grabbed the Gideon Bible and opened it at an earmarked page. Some one else had earmarked it, probably for similar reasons. I claimed itas my own.

  2. Patti, That sent shivers up my spine. That was quite an experience. Glad you helped those people.. We ALL need to help others in need regardless of their color, nationality, etc.

    Glad you are doing fine healthwise.. That woman may have indirectly saved your life.. Thanks be to God!!!


  3. I couldn't help but cry as I read that. Patti you are someone special. I probably would not have done what you did, and I applaud you for it. Someday I hope to meet someone special - YOU!

  4. Absolutely. I help out when I can, even birds and bees and things that make me scratch and itch. I think the Good Lord knows and if we come back again, then your good old boys will be in the jalopy, in the steaming heat pulling up in front of a bunch of white folks who turn and look in the opposite direction.

    You did the right thing.

  5. Your generosity of spirit is truly a beautiful thing, patti. What a great story. It is a sad thing that this happened not all that long ago. One would think in this day and age we would have gotten past the superficiality of skin color. I'm glad you were there.

  6. What a wonderful story. Thanks for your open mind about people different that yourself. You did indeed meet someone special.

  7. Nitwit,
    I am so glad you found something to give you strength when you needed it. How awful to have gone through that alone and away from home.
    But then we never really are alone are we?

    Hate to steal from MLK but he said it best. All we should ever concern ourselves about another human being, is the "content of his character."

    Somehow I think you would have done the same. That was a situation of obvious need. It didn't matter their color.

    Totally agree that we all should be made to feel the pain we cause. How about coming back as a dung beetle? Too harsh?

    It is alarming that we still have so far to go. There are too many pockets of prejudice still out there. All I have to do is look across my street to see it still.

  8. Linda
    Welcome to TNS. Thank you for your comment. Yes I agree that she was special as was the family.

  9. Patti- What can I say. That was one of your shorter stories and indeed, for me, quite powerful. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a religious person, but I live my life with compassion for others no matter their religion, race, sexual orientation, weight, etc. The last two in that list seem to still be the "safe" ones to pick on and discriminate against. I try to treat others as , well, Human and as I would want to be treated. I guess it could be said that it's the Christian way. I see it as humane. My father was a Lutheran minister, and I like to think I learned something from it, though I never really went to church. He passed when I was sixteen, so I can't say that I knew everything that went on in his mind. He was, after all, a white guy born in Pennsylvania in the 1920s. He also lived through the horrors of WW II. I think that played a huge roll in who he became.

    My mom was the major player in the shaping of me. She passed when I was twenty. A huge blow, but they left me with the tools to go on.

    Anyway, your thoughtfulness is amazing and I hope that your telling of this story will touch even one of your readers enough to make them, at the very least, think about his or her actions, or inactions.

    Thank you for sharing that.

    As I sometimes do, here is a quote from a John Mellencamp song about the absudity of bigotry called "Walk Tall"...

    "So be careful in what you believe in
    There's plenty to get you confused
    And in this land called paradise
    You must walk in many men's shoes
    Bigotry and hatred are enemies to us all
    Grace, mercy and forgiveness
    Will help a man walk tall
    So walk tall"

  10. FBF,
    We are definite kindred spitits. Really a beautiful comment Barry and much appreciated. I am so pleased and overwhelmed that so many of my readers are such wonderful,tolerant people.
    That Mellencamp song is perfect. I will hit Amazon to see if I can't add it to my MP3. Thanks.

  11. Again a very gripping and beautiful story, Patti! Thankk you for sharing! Thanks also for the comment. Today I came home after a great week in France.

  12. Thank you Reader and welcome back. Looking forward to pictures and stories of France.

  13. She was definitely someone special. But, then, so are you. Not everyone can recognize the qualities you saw in her.

  14. Patti- Thanks. I only wish I had noticed my spelling error before I hit 'publish'. ;) Oh well...

  15. Patti, What an inspiration you are! I try to do onto others... The world is just chock full of wonders.

  16. Sorry in advance that this will be a bit long for a comment. I loved what you wrote, Patti, and also what you did. Bless you with good health and many more years!

    I have been thinking about prejudice for most of the day after reading your moving and thought provoking account. I am sure that it is a "learned" behavior.

    Shortly after coming to NZ I boarded for two or three weeks with a family in Hamilton in the North Island. The husband smoked like a chimney and was small, gnarled, thin, and white, and his richly brown Maori wife enveloped all that were around her. I enjoyed and appreciated my time with them. Huge breakfasts of boiled sweet corn, baked beans, bread, toast, you name it, far more than my little English tummy could eat. They treated me with kindness, and acceptance of who I was.
    The accommodation was only a temporary arrangement, and I soon had to move into somewhere more permanent. The people that I went on to board with were quite different. My new landlady was shocked and disgusted when she heard where I had boarded before. In her opinion a marriage of the mixed Maori and European sort was the lowest of the low. She only forgave my social "blunder", because I was new to the country, and didn't know the rules! That was old NZ in the 1970s. Some things have changed for the better since then, but I have never forgotten the shock I felt deep within, at my new landlady's entrenched attitude. I was too young at 17, stupid, and unsure of myself to really challenge her.

    As an English immigrant I also came in for a lot of teasing, "coolness", and some rather more unpleasant abuse of the "Go home you pommie b ####" kind. As my accent lost some of its Englishness, I found more acceptance, even to the extent that one or two people have confided in me over the years "I hate pommies", and haven't realized that their "old mate" was one! That can actually hurt a bit, as I realize that my real English self is still not fully acceptable here amongst some people at least. I am lucky though that I don't look particularly different (although I probably still have slightly funny vowel sounds and paler skin than many!).

    I have often rather buried my own origins, and have felt embarrassed when pressed to tell people where I am from. The awful thing was that, over the years, I even started accumulating some prejudice against my own people, but had that sorted when I visited England 11 years ago, and met so many wonderful, kind, and caring people there.

    To be from another country and also look different would be altogether harder than anything I have encountered, and my heart goes out to those who suffer from racial abuse. P.

  17. Betty,
    Thank you. I appreciate that.

    If you misspelled, I missed it. I found the song and now own it. Thanks

    You are so right. Thanks.

    Thank you for a heartfelt comment. I was amazed that you were subjected to such prejudice in NZ. I mean if you go back far enough, you all come from the same place don't you?
    I am so glad you were able to bury your own feelings of prejudice against your own people.
    I am sure you are right. It is a learned behavior. We are making progress but there are still strides to be made.

  18. A lovely story, Patti and, in the same manner it affected Betsy from TN, it gave me the shivers. What a good thing you did that day, and what a unexpected gift you received in return.