Years ago, in the mid nineteen nineties, I was living up on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. I had a string of life events some might call bad luck. My wife left me for a younger Italian model; My employment contracts came to a crashing halt; I had no employment insurance and zero money with my credit card maxed out.
It was a Friday afternoon and my boys were coming for the weekend. I surveyed the kitchen cupboards and fridge before they arrived and everything including my bank account was bare! I was alone, scared, and paralyzed.
I felt like ending it all. Enough already!
At that very moment of crushing despair Oliver and Ben wandered up the sidewalk to the front porch of my little cabin in upper Sechelt all set for a great weekend with Dad. In that moment I thought, “Is this what I want to teach my boys? When the going gets tough – quit?”
Not knowing what to do and knowing I had to do something, I gave them both a hug, put their weekend backpacks on the couch and said “Boys lets go to the Mother Earth Café for a hot chocolate.”
Off we walked hand in hand skipping along the seawall – the boys carefree and unaware of my predicament.
I hadn’t been to town for a month or so, too embarrassed to face my friends and colleagues. As we walked into the Mother Earth Café, Brian the owner and a friend of mine said, “Long time no see, the hot chocolates are on me boys!”
Whew, free hot chocolate. Step one.
We sat down at the window table, the boys waiting not so patiently fro their hot chocolate. Shortly after Brian brought three huge mugs of whip cream covered chocolate goodness to the table along with a plate of cookies and headed back to the kitchen – I followed him.
“Brian, I am a little down on my luck. Actually I am flat broke.” I said. “No money in the bank and no food in the fridge. I am kinda’ in a hard place.” I could barely look Brian in the eye.
“Dinner is on me Stephen, “ Brain said without looking up. “Head back to your table and play with your boys. I got the meal handled.”
With a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye I thanked him and headed back to join my boys. I was so relieved; I got Friday night handled! Whew step two. Dinner. The boys and I played I spy with my little eye.
When Brian next appeared he had three plates of delicious Mother Earth Café food and a hundred dollar bill in his top pocket. “Here’s supper boys!” he said with a mix of pride and joy. He stooped down at the table by my side and handed me the cash. “Here is an advance on your first pay cheque. You can start Monday morning as my dishwasher.” He simply smiled and walked back to the kitchen.
This simple and random act of kindness saved my bacon and Brian probably does not even realize how impactful his generosity was and what it has meant to me over the years. I likely would not be the death reverend I am today serving many families at this important time of life we call death had it not been for Brain and his very random act of kindness to me.
On Monday I began as his dishwasher. I was the happiest dishwasher he ever had.
To this day I do random acts of kindness to pay forward Brian’s generosity and like Brian I have no idea who I may have inspired or helped along the way. I do know though, that I have.
Thank you Brian.