Not many people get to find out what happens after they do something nice for someone. “Thank You” cards aren’t a popular option anymore, and unless it’s after a wedding or graduation, we might not see them at all anymore. A quick text might be the best that we can hope for. One man wanted to help out his nephew. After a life of disappointment and frustration, the least he could do was try to brighten the man’s day with a nice gesture. A gift card to the local grocery store would help him over the holidays, but like many other cases, he would never know what really happened.
When I was a child, my nephew was around our house a lot, almost like a little brother. He grew up into a troubled soul, and though I did not see him often, we maintained a connection.
Last autumn, I decided on a grocery-store gift card for my nephew “Sam,” knowing that even in his thirties, he was often not working and was always short of money. Although it was only mid-November, a voice in my head suggested, “Don’t wait for Christmas. Send him the card now.”
I did send the card, and heard from Sam a few days later with his thanks for the early Christmas gift. He said he could really use the card. We anticipated seeing each other at the planned family Thanksgiving get-together. On Thanksgiving, Sam didn’t appear.
There was some general irritation among family members. Once again, Sam had proven unreliable, and didn’t care enough to show up for his family. We went back home wondering. Later that night, I got a call. Sam’s sister and brother-in-law were frustrated when no one could reach him, and went to Sam’s house to find out what was going on.
My brother-in-law forced open a screen door to get inside, where he found Sam dead on the sofa, of an apparent heart attack.
Later we learned that he had been dead for at least a day, but no one knew because he wasn’t employed and he didn’t often check-in with anyone. I never heard if his grocery gift-card was found, but I like to think that he had time to use it to buy himself a treat.
With this experience behind me, I will be more willing to listen to that inner voice. I’m grateful that it coaxed me to send what I thought was an early gift, that turned out to be just in time.
Without any close family, this unfortunate nephew wasn’t missed until it was too late. A heart attack at an early age might not have been avoided, but perhaps if his family were closer, his last days would not have been so lonely. The fact that they didn’t find the grocery store gift card is promising, though. I’d like to think that he bought a nice array of his favorite snacks and foods. Maybe he had a feast while re-watching his favorite movie. This man’s story has two morals:
- Appreciate your family because you aren’t guaranteed another day.
- Make time for the things that make you happy – even if it happens to be a bag of your favorite potato chips.
Life is too short. Make each day count!
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