Monday, February 28, 2011


I previously wrote about a former co-worker Margie here. We worked side by side at the bank so I was part of the following story.

Social Security checks use to arrive all at the beginning of the month instead of staggered like they do now. So senior check day was really busy at the bank. That was when we saw some people for the only time all month.

Many seniors stuck in our minds either by sweetness, crankiness or quirkiness. Such was the case of two sisters in their seventies. The two widows were both sweet and quirky but we never saw cranky.

They cashed their checks together each month, giving us a list of specific denominations leaning towards a lot of ones and fives. Then they went to the center counter in the lobby to divvy up the money into their rigid budgeting system.

They did not have a checking account but instead put their money in separate envelopes marked, rent, groceries, bus fare, medical, etc. The dollar amounts they put in the envelopes was the total amount allotted for each expense for the month. This was how they explained it to us and it seemed to work for them.

We were busy so we paid no attention to the ladies after we cashed their checks. Not long after however, a favorite senior of ours named Ralph came up to Margie's window and said he had found a fairly large amount of money in two envelopes under the center counter.

By the writing on the envelopes stating “rent and groceries”, we knew it was the sisters. They must have attempted to stuff them in their purses with the other envelopes and just missed the mark. We thanked Ralph profusely, got his phone number, then as soon as we went on break, Margie called the sisters.

They alternately sobbed and thanked God when she told them of the find. Then they said something that left Margie slack jawed and unable to respond. When she hung up quite stunned, she broke the news.

The sister on the phone said when they had gotten home and found the largest part of their budget missing, they were heart sick. They decided to pray for the return of their money, but were not too hopeful. They were desperate as those checks were their only income and their budget was tight.

She then told Margie, “I asked God that if he could help us get our money back, I would donate half of the money to the church.”

Margie then heard a gasp and the other sister in the back ground cried, “Oh dear no!! I promised the same thing.”

It was a rather dejected pair that came to collect the money that was now ALL promised to the church. This would be a bleak month for the widows who intended to keep their promises.

Margie convinced them to explain the whole story to their pastor before dropping the envelopes in the collection plate. Perhaps they could arrange a payment plan.

As suspected, the pastor refused the money and suggesting instead that the ladies bake cakes for all the church socials for the coming year. The pastor assured them that would please the Lord as much as the money and they would be square. The very clever pastor solved a sticky conundrum for the ladies.

The ladies called Ralph to thank him for returning the money. Turned out he was a lonely widower and pretty soon the ladies were fixing him regular dinners.

Ralph was still able to drive but had no car and they had a car they were no longer able to drive. So from then on, they all three came in together to cash their SS checks. Pretty sure what money was formerly in an envelope for bus fares, went to feeding Ralph.

As far as we knew, none of the three ever escalated into a possessive relationship which pleased Margie and I. We would have hated for that really nice man to have split up the sisters.
Perhaps they were able to remain just friends, perhaps they decided to practice "big love" like the TV show. We just knew it worked.

All in all, a really happy ending.


  1. Patti, I read this story to MY recently widowed sister while I'm visiting her and we both cried over this wonderful and inspiring story. God DOES work in mysterious ways, bringing Ralph together with the sisters, and I'm sure it made their life much better. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  2. What a sweet story of what goes aound, comes around...a full circle of good deeds and good will.

  3. What a great story with happy ending! I remember banking when it seemed to be senior day at my bank. There was always one elderly gentleman with long grizzled white hair and a beard who always dressed in black. He was quite a character, and he always cashed his whole check and got one dollar bills. I eventually learned from other people in line that he gave the money to the homeless during the month. By the way, welcome back!

  4. Such a sweet story; this is why I read blogs instead of the newspaper in the morning with my coffee. It sets a much better tone for my day. Thanks!

  5. Good Morning Patti! Hope you enjoyed your week of down time and you gave us a wonderful story for your 1st post back! I'm glad the preacher did not take the sisters money and the story has a happy ending. We truly do get by with a little help from our friends. Wonder what happened to the trio?

  6. Great story Patti. In spite of all we hear about on TV, there is still much goodness in this world

  7. Oh, what a lovely story! A great way to start a new week. Thanks for the gift.

  8. That was a touching story. Good attracts good.
    Are the days gone that we would just natually expect someone to return a lost item to its owner?

  9. Such a sweet story of the humans ability to rise above and be who we were intended to be....angels to each other. Thanks so much. Great way to start a very hard week. The olde Bagg, Linda

  10. Welcome back. You've started the week with a wonderful story. Thank you. I well remember the former 'Social Security Days' at the bank where I worked. It was a madhouse, made tolerable only by sweet little ladies like the sisters in this post. I'm glad this story had a happy ending.

  11. As always I enjoyed reading your story and I really advise you to write a book about all the people and animals you met in your life, and I am sure it will become a bestseller! I always read your posts with much pleasure.

  12. That is just the sweetest story!

    My grandmother took up with a little old man who lived in her building when they were both in their 90's. He changed her light bulbs and took out her garbage and she cooked for him...

    Two lonely people became just a little less so!

  13. I enjoyed reading this because I could imagine it happening in the little town where I grew up.

  14. Patti,
    What an inspiring story! I really beleive that in all of us there is a good person who just wants to do good deeds. Goof ro Ralph and for the sisters that they had each other to look out for.
    thanks so much for that lovely tale!
    Thanks also for your continued prayers for Ethan...

  15. Oh my gosh, Patti! This is such an amazing story! You could publish this in a magazine! It is perfection with just the sort of ending I love. Thanks for starting my week off with so much love.

  16. What a sweet story! God is listening to every prayer!

  17. This is a beautiful story, Patti. Now I know why I sat down in front of the computer with my lunch. It makes work a little easier with inspiring stories to ponder on! Thanks for sharing this. Have a great day!

  18. This would make a wonderful short story! Why don't you have a go?

    such a heart[warming tale should be kept and spread for as many people to read as possible. it is so sweet of you to blog about it, it restores my faith in human nature. On the whole, I don't altogether trust in mankind's kindness and decency and honesty, but here you and these three people have proved me wrong.

  19. What a great story, Patti....You write about it in such a vivid way---I feel like I can see those two sisters, and their envelopes...! And what a lovely ending, too---Ralph made two new friends and the sisters made a wonderful friend too, plus the car served ALL three of them...! Hooray!

  20. I really adore this story as I have received odd glances from people when I say God led (told) me to resign from City Councilthe night I did.

    I had a resignation letter written for a month later. I knew I had to find time to address other matters, and the meeting I had scheduled was going to be one of those "hellava" meetings. I went home, only had 20 minutes, pulled up the letter and changed the day to 1 minute before midnight the same night.

    I carried 25 copies buried underneath the current agenda papers to the meeting and when the hell broke out, I interrupted the meeting and said I had enough and with applause from the filled room of about 75 people, I handed out my resignation.

    I cannot account for my actions any other way, as I had been through many "helluva" meetings and thought I was having fun while serving a civic cause I believed in.

    Now I am reading a book called When God Whispers Your Name by Max Lucado, for a second time. This is the mystery of God, how He does this. Nobody is talking to me.

    But I think it is a meditative thinking process whereby you remove yourself as the center of your activities and in silence let the reasoning and thought process be influenced in a way that allows God or other influences to modify your reasoning; you still have a choice to choose among all options and reject the sane, reasonable best-for-you ones.

    I firmly believe I chose the best one, and claim no intelligent thought, as up to that very moment I thought I was having a great time, even though reluctantly I knew I had harder decisions impending.

    Then again it is a mystery. And I am at peace for the most part, with my actions.

  21. Wow, this is the best story ever. You made my day. Miracles really do happen, even to old people. Dianne

  22. Patti, your back!!! and with another great tale!!! Thank You.

  23. Patti, I'm so glad you're back. I missed you and I also wanted to thank you for introducing me to Ptolemy Grey. I just finished his story last night and that book will go down as one of my all time favorites. I'm planning on reading some more of Walter Mosley's books.

  24. Hi Patti, Welcome back. I have missed you!!!!

    What a neat story... Seems as the people with the least amount of money give the most to charity... Glad the man found their money--and turned it in. Today, I'm not sure who would turn it in.. Isn't that awful to say?????

    Glad they could all help each other and help the church...

    Thanks for a great post.

  25. Patti, that's a neat story. I love the happy ending too.

  26. Djan,
    Glad you liked it. These things happen everyday. It is just wonderful when we get to witness them.

    Thanks so much. Yes it does.

    Me too on happy endings. I really love what your fellow did. These people too often slip past us unnoticed. There are a lot of good folks out there.

    Thanks. Don't you wish the papers would print nice stories for a change? It would help us swallow the bad.

    Iowa Gardening woman,
    Oh I had a wonderful time thank you. Sometimes we need to charge our batteries.

    Makes one wonder if a strickly good news channel would succeed. I certainly would watch.

    Thanks, it was a gift to me also at the time and in retrospect.

    You know, I always expect it but it seems it is now newsworthy when someone actually does. Sad.

    Linda in NM
    Thanks, it is how we are meant to be and I like to believe, still are.

    It really was a busy time but I always enjoyed it. Odd to think they were all about our age now.

    Reader Wil,
    Thanks so much Wil for thinking so. Not sure there is a market for iddy biddy stories however and that is what I know how do.

    Rocky Mountain Woman,
    Oh, I love that image. If people would just reach out,loneliness could be abolished.

    That happened in a fairly large town but it is easier to understand in a small community where people aren't so isolated.

    I do believe most people are honest. The other kind make better news stories and that is sad.
    Sorry I was late finding out about Ethan. Do hope he is improving.

    Thanks so much. I know, some people love a good tear jerker, me, I like to feel warm and smile.

    He is listening to yours I am sure.

    Glad I could supply pleasant lunch material. Thanks.

    Not sure I have short story in me. I can do iddy biddy but haven't expanded yet. Thanks for thinking so.

    Thanks Naomi. Those three really made us all feel good as we saw the friendship develop.

    Wow, you really know how to make an exit. Don't know how you put up with it as long as you did. You were no longer having fun so it really was time to go.

    Thanks Dianne. Glad you liked it, I enjoyed living it.

    Yep I am back to haunt you all. Thanks so much.

    Well I would like to take credit for recommending Ptolemy Grey but it wasn't me. You got me curious though and I looked it up. That does sound like a book I would love. Thank you.

    One thing that amazed me about the ladies. They said at first if they didn't get the money back, they just hoped it went to someone who needed it. Wow.

    Southwest Arkie,
    Thanks---me too.

  27. What a wonderful story. When I was a child my friends mother organized the finance lke that but into marked jars on a shelf ...maybe I should try it ... to keep on track and not over spend lol

  28. Oh, I love this story. Everything always works out when one does the right thing and blesses others. Those three had to have been very happy after they were brought together in such a way. Divine intervention is what I call it. Very nice post. Hugs

  29. What a sweet story! I have had many friends who, especially in their younger days, budgeted by the "envelope system". It worked well for them and truth be told, I might should have used it myself when I was younger. :) blessings, marlene

  30. Honey thank goodness I have you for a friend because I loved reading this heartwarming story. I need stories like this and you always put a big smile on my face when I visit you.
    So glad they got to keep the money and man. lol...Both were very much needed in their life...I love this and you

  31. A great story, Patti, with more than a happy ending for the sisters and Ralph! Glad you're not playing hooky anymore!

  32. What a wonderful story. It brought back memories of working as a teller on the first of the month. I had many sweet and kind elderly customers and many cranky and weird ones.

  33. I loved this uplifting and heartwarming story. Of course, I especially loved the way you told it. You, collector of great stories, are an amazing storyteller.

  34. Oh how sweet this story is, I love it. And the two ladies got a friend to boot. It seems the first and fifteenth of the month is really busy at the banks and grocery stores and such. Around here we like to get to the stores early because after a certain point the snowbirds have all the parking lots filled up no matter what day of the week it is.

  35. Angie,
    Thanks so much. That method still exhists today. Let me know if it works.

    I too love it when there is proof that good deeds do have rewards. We have gotten too cynical about that.

    I once tried it also but I kept robbing the food envelope for new clothes. It really takes more discipline than I possess.

    So glad you enjoyed it Maggie. It really was a win/win for the ladies.

    Thanks. I enjoyed hooky but I missed everyone too much to stay away.

    Sweet Virgina Breeze,
    You know all about it then. I too had some that leaned heavy on the quirky but was lucky to rarely get cranky.

    Retired English Teacher,
    Thank you for a lovely compliment. I am quite flattered.

    Linda Starr,
    Well you do live in the retirement capital of the world. The checks are really strung out now for I get mine on the 4th Wednesday of the month. I always go really early and pretty much have the stores to myself.
    Thanks for the white rabbit reminder. I had forgotten all ready. I accidently deleted that comment, sorry.

  36. Patti, remarkable story! and you are quite the story "teller". I always enjoy my time here. Thank you.

  37. Great story and happy ending. I could just picture it in my mind as you were telling it. I found a wallet once with $1500.00 in it. When I returned it to the man with all it's contents intact he never even said thank you.

  38. I have a young neighbor who uses the envelope system. She says it's the only thing that works for her.

    I'm an optimist. I think a lot of people would return the money.

    And what a wise pastor!

  39. GREAT STORY! Wonderful pastor! And good old Ralph...what a guy!

  40. Hope you enjoyed your vacation minus blogging.
    That was the best story I've heard in a long time. What wise and kind people in your town. Do you think people used to live a more simple life? Today i heard that Jane Russell died at age .... what? 89 ... I think. Then news people would reminess that they missed the simple times when she was popular.
    Back to your story, i think it's sweet when sisters live together in their old age. If I had a sister, I'd live with her (I think). Don't have one. Marilyn is like my sister but she still has a husband. Thanks for that lovely story.
    Love and peace.

  41. Diana,
    Thank you so much. That always makes me feel good.

    Good grief, what was wrong with that man? At least you have a clear heart. He has to live with a cold one.

    Thank you and welcome to TNS.

    Linda Myers,
    I too believe most people would. I mean, it is the only thing to do.
    I tried that system but I kept robbing Peter to pay Paul. No discipline.

    Thanks so much. Lots of good people came through.

    Thanks, it was great but I missed everyone.
    I do believe it was a kinder, gentler time or maybe the bad just get better press these days.

  42. I just wanted to tell you I like your smile...I read Betsy's blog for today and saw your commment and when I saw your smile, it warmed my heart...just wanted to let you know :)

  43. What a wonderful story! And it shows that God does answer prayers!

  44. What a great story to use to come back to Bl*gger. I am a great believer in "paying it forward" and I love that the pastor found a way for the sisters to give without bankrupting themselves for the month. What a gracious intelligent man he was.

    Thank you for sharing.

  45. Tracy,
    Gee thanks for the lovely compliment. That made my day.

    Thank you, it does give you hope.

    RV Vagabonds,
    Thanks, I really was impressed with him but also Margie to suggest talking to him.