On a Saturday last month, my mother and I went to the First National Bank in West View to withdraw $50. Between the two of us, we were having trouble covering the bills for the month, and this was a little ace in the hole that she had tucked away.
I had warned her, since it was such a small amount and might involve closing the account, that she might have to take less than the 50. I felt bad because of how much I wished I could help her and how much she had helped me financially whenever I needed it.
The tellers, who were very nice and patient, talked to her about what could be done. Asking her when she would be able to make a deposit into the account to keep it open, she assured them it would be replaced by the beginning of January.
What I saw, that she didn't, was the man standing behind her who put a bill on the counter, saying, "Put this towards her deposit." He turned and walked away.
Mom was stunned. She had done countless acts of kindness, many of which, I am certain, no one knew about. This was the first time in 85 years she had been the recipient of one.
On the way home, still stunned, she continued to be concerned about how to find out the gentleman's name, and how she felt bad that at the time she did not realize he was putting money on the counter for her, and not for the teller who was waiting on her.
Her friend Sylvia said it best, explaining that sometimes a generous person like this does not want his or her identity known, and that the gesture itself is thanks enough. I couldn't agree more.
This story, which has been shared by us and others, has circulated since then and brought pleasure to all who have heard it. Thank you to my mother's unidentified friend, who made her day in a way she never expected.
After reading the following from the October 2011 edition of Reader's Digest, I knew that I had to write to your column:
"Have you ever had an 'Oh, now I get it' moment? That wonderful mind-opening instance when something happens that opens you up to the sky and gives you a God's eye view of your life and you realize how incredibly well off you are?"
This type of moment happened to me during the months of October and November. During October, I was having trouble with my heart rhythm and was hospitalized for several days. I was surprised at how many people called and visited me at the hospital, and I was even recipient of a gift basket from my employer.
After being released and continuing my treatment at home, additional problems arose that required that I be admitted to the intensive care unit. Again, I can't remember how many people called, visited or sent cards while I was in the hospital, all expressing their concern.
When I was released from the hospital, I was pleasantly surprised upon arriving at home to find that my neighbor Pat had raked the leaves and cut the grass. I want to thank all of the people who called, visited and otherwise performed random acts of kindness during my illness.
As stated above, I am incredibly well off.
My 5-year-old granddaughter, Sydney, and I were having breakfast at the Collier Eat'n Park in December when our wonderful waitress, April, informed us that one of her regulars had already paid for our meal.
What a special thing to do for a perfect stranger. It made my spirits brighter for the whole day, and what a great example for Sydney to experience. To that nice man, I would like to say thank you, and I will pay it forward.
MARY ELLEN WESTFALL
Has someone done you right? Send your Random Act of Kindness to firstname.lastname@example.org , or write to Portfolio, Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. First Published January 19, 2012 5:00 AM