Tragedy strikes when you least expect it, and even then, most of us tend to think, “that could never happen to me…” until it does. Until one day, you wake up and think that it’s just another day, you’re focused on what you need to get done and what you’re going to make for dinner and what you’re going to do tomorrow. And then it happens. Whatever ‘it’ is completely shatters all of your plans and suddenly it doesn’t matter what you were going to make for dinner because ‘it’ is suddenly so much bigger than anything else in your life. This woman’s ‘it’ left her broken and alone…until her husband’s old boss showed up at her door with an incredible gift.
I was twenty-four years old and three months pregnant when my husband died.
I was a widow and an expectant mother in the same day.
We had bought a new home and I had filled our two bedroom apartment with nursery items in anticipation of moving in. Now the house would be taken away. I knew I would have to go back to my parents’ home, at least until I delivered the baby. And the shock of my husband’s sudden death had made losing the baby a very real possibility.
I moved back into my old bedroom. My twin bed, a crib and a dresser was all that could fit in the 8 x 10 foot bedroom. The rest of our furniture had to go into storage.
I was able to pay for three months worth of storage and then I would have to sell all the new furniture we had bought for our new home because I wouldn’t be able to pay any more storage fees.
I had been told I couldn’t grieve my husband’s death because the baby was so at risk of delivering early, so I focused on keeping calm. Of course, that wasn’t easy – and it only got more difficult! Because I tend not to be a person who shares my troubles much, I had told no one but my sister. She was poorer than me and could only provide moral support. My parents were just making ends meet with another mouth to feed.
Then one day in early January 1971 I received a cashier’s check for $500. I had no idea who it was from and no amount of calling the financial institution who issued it gave me any clues. I was saved! We had enough money to pay for the storage rental for nearly another year!
I was so happy I smiled all day – something I hadn’t done in months!
Then, on the same day, my husband’s boss came to the house saying he wanted to see how I was doing. I told him about the check and he was thrilled for me. I knew I had nothing coming from the company my husband had worked for because he had been there only 6 months. In order to get insurance payments or death benefits you had to be with the company for a year.
The man sat down and pulled out three envelopes. The first was what we were due of my husband’s salary for his last month. The second was a bonus check he had earned for the month before (which was originally due to be issued at the end of the year.) And the third was for $10,000, which was his death benefits with the company!
I was incredulous! How could this be? His boss explained the first two checks were due us for services rendered, and he said he used his twenty-eight years with the company to make sure they did the right thing by us.
To this day I don’t know how he did it but that money saved us.
After the baby was born (with health issues that required thirteen surgeries in two years,) I was able to stay home with him until he was healthy enough to go to a nursery school with other kids. And it allowed us to move to a little apartment of our own.
In one day we had been saved by two angels with acts of kindness that touched my very soul. It was forty-one years ago but I have never forgotten them or that day.
It was the day I smiled from morning to night!
This is a scenario that no one would wish on even their worst enemy. All at once, her dreams and hopes were destroyed. In one moment, her life was turned upside down. From one breath to the next, the world changed, and she had to start all over. The one saving grace? Her child lived, and she was able to build a new life with the remnants of the old one. Every day, she’ll see her child and have a beautiful reminder of how precious and fragile life can be…and to never stop smiling.
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