It’s All Souls Day, 2010 and I’m feeling a little reminiscent. After homeschooling the kids for years, it seems a little odd not to be wrapped up in holy day and holiday preparations with the kids. Here’s a little story to warm you for the holy day. It’s true.
My husband and I have always had to live frugally. We raised four children in a 20 year old mobile home, on at or near poverty level income, with one 15 year old car. We practiced. ‘lived lightly, tread brightly’ long before there was such a phrase. It would have been easy for our children to grow up selfish, greedy and demanding. They heard the words ‘we can’t afford it’ all the time. But they were not selfish. Not one little bit. In fact, they are all generous to a fault.
Here’s a little vignette to show just how fair and kind my children are. The protagonist is Albert (affectionately named ‘Albie’). He is now almost 21; he was eight when this occurred. What Albert did wasn’t particularly heroic. He didn’t save anyone’s life or perform a superhuman feat of courage. But what he did is perhaps one of the hardest things a little boy can do. He was honest.
Whilst at the beach one hot summer day, Grandma and I were cleaning up from the picnic. The children were playing on the playground equipment as we gave our meal the 15 minute digesting period before heading back into the water. Albie ran up with something in his hand. ‘Here Mom, I found this.’ He casually tossed it on the picnic table and ran off to play. It was a wallet. Grampa inspected the contents and declared that ‘it only had a few singles in it’. Grandma, being made of good Hollander stock, made a more thorough inspection while I nursed the baby. ‘A few singles’ turned out to be $226 in ones, fives and a few tens. The wallet was empty of everything but the cash. No identification, papers, nothing.
I called Albie over to tell him what he had found. His sister and Grandpa were for Albie keeping it. Grandma was for turning it in to the lifeguards (this idea roundly scoffed by Grampa who declared that they would just pocket it- which was a distinct possibility). Mom (the mystery reader) had decided that it was a planted wallet or drug money.
Our hero had his own ideas. ‘I’m going to ask Daddy. He’ll know what to do.’ (I get tears in my eyes every time I think of that trusting little voice.) I said that since Albie had found it, he could decide what to do. Dad was duly asked and suggested that he and Alb take it to the police department, which they did. The officers in charge were completely delighted with my little boy. Said he was a ‘great guy’ and that not many kids would turn in $226. Albie was issued a claim ticket for the wallet and told that in 60 days if no one claimed it, the wallet and money were his.
Just as the 60 days were nearly up a letter came for Albie in the mail. It was from another boy, the owner of the wallet. He was 10, had been vacationing in our area and lost his wallet. He said that it had all his saved up money from raking leaves and odd jobs. He said he never expected to see it again. Albie received a $50 reward. I think Albie has pretty much forgotten that random act of kindness over the years. But I have not. I don’t think God has either.