The Connection Runners + TIME

"Go buy your family dinner"

Years back we had hit a few bumps in the road. We had lost money on some investments, and took a huge loss on a house when the real estate market bottomed out and we had to move cross country unexpectedly. Things were really tight, but we were getting by. We had learned to live lean and make sacrifices.

That year my family was coming to visit us for Thanksgiving. Probably having an inkling of our situation, they offered to send grocery cards out for the meal shopping, but out of pride I declined. I didn't want them to realize how hard things really were for us at that time.

But the reality was, there wasn't extra money to provide a huge meal for a large group of people.

A week or so before they were set to arrive, Dash and I went to a local waterside park. Charles was working that day, but soon came strolling up in uniform to join us during his lunch break. We had packed a picnic of sandwiches which we enjoyed while watching the boats come and go. The boys then went to play on the playground.

I sat on the bench watching them play, worrying over the week to come. I was wracking my brain of things I could sell on Craigslist to make a little extra money, trying to figure out how to cut corners further. And at some point a prayer was sent up.

It was a beautiful fall day in South Florida. The air was cool and for once the humidity was low. Despite being a weekday, the park was full of people enjoying the outdoors. The benches facing the water were full of boat watchers, and people were strolling up and down the water's edge. I had noticed a gentlemen watching us from a nearby bench, but figured based on his age he probably had grandchildren and was amused by Dash's antics.

Soon it was time for Charles to go back to work, and I needed to get Dash home to scrub the sand out of his hair and put him down for a nap. As I gathered our things I saw the man approach Charles.

Curious, I drifted closer.

He reached into his pocket, pulled out a wad of money and said "Here, take this. Go buy your family dinner."

He put the money in Charles' hand and turned to walk off. Charles was so surprised he stood still for a second, and then started after the guy. The man then stopped, turned around and walked back to Charles.

He once again reached into his pocket and said "You know what, take this too. Thank you for your service. God Bless You and your family" and put more money in Charles' hand.

Of course Charles is protesting at this point, "Thank you sir, that's not necessary" and such, but the man gruffly shook his head and walked off, not willing to take no for an answer.

He left the park and Charles and I scooped up Dash and walked slowly back to our vehicles. We stood in the parking lot, each lost in our own thoughts. There were tears in each of our eyes when they finally met.

I climbed into my truck and sat there and cried. I cried at the kindness of a stranger, I cried out of relief that a worry was lifted, and I cried at the reminder of the power of prayer.

You can call it a random act of kindness, or the answer to a prayer, but as I sit here and remember that day I am reminded of how much I have to be thankful for. We are blessed.

Happy Thanksgiving Y'all!

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