This evening I had an opportunity to teach my son an invaluable lesson. One I hope he takes with him always and one that my father instilled in my brothers and me.
My son asked if we could eat at Taco Bell (it is just the 2 of us tonight). I was a bit reluctant about spending $10 on dinner but then I saw his shoes. They were tattered, torn and definitely qualified as "play shoes". I made a deal with him that we could go to Taco Bell if we could get him a new pair of shoes at Kmart without the big hassle of fighting for a toy. He agreed. I knew it would not be as easy as I wished but it never is, so I was prepared.
On the four mile drive, we talked about school and a few other 5 year old whimisical fantasies, when I noticed a man standing at the corner of the Super America/Wendy's red light with a sign. I did not catch what the sign said, as we passed too fast but we have all seen and know the gist of what the sign was about. We ate and finished our shopping. I got out of Kmart with a $12 pair of shoes and a $1 Match Box car. I felt very pleased with myself and my son. Thank God I was not having to drag him out crying about the injustice of it all!
I had almost forgetten about the man on the corner but remembered in just enough time to look over and see that he was still standing there. I turned at the next light to go back and give him whatever was in my wallet. I knew it was more than $5 but under $20 and was determined he needed it more than I. His sign read "Very Hungry Diabetic. Anything Helps."
Making my way back, I saw several cars stop at the red light but not one person offered this man a cent. No one bothered to offer him a few of the groceries they just bought at Walmart or Sam's. No one even offered him a kind word. It was my turn at the light, he reached for my money and said God bless you. I returned the greeting and as I started driving off, he was waving and hollering God bless you. I gave $15. I wish I would have had the foresight to bring him shopping in my warehouse of food and toiletries but I did not and can only hope he is warm and well.
My son seemed a bit perturbed that I would not buy him the $21 toy he so desperately needed and that I gave a complete stranger his toy money. I admit I had tears in my eyes when explaining to my son the wonderful gift he gave tonight. I told him he was such a good person to see and realize that he did not need that toy but that man needed food. I also told him how proud he made me and God would smile on him for his act of brotherly love. He was a little overwhelmed and teared up himself. He asked me not to cry because it made him sad. That was the end of the lesson.
It was not my wish to make my son sad. It was my wish that my son see the meaning of truly loving another, so much so that even a 5 year old can make a difference in someones life. How many hundreds of people do you reckon passed by that man? How many of those people do you reckon had just spent $150 at Walmart or Sam's? How many do you reckon saw him, turned a blind eye and bought something frivolous at Walmart? I reckon it was alot. I reckon that if he sucked up his pride enough so that he would stand there and be ridiculed and made fun of (not to his face ofcourse) that he needed that $15 a whole heckuva lot more than we did.