This happened to me around 1985 in Millville, New Jersey, and I am hoping this finds its way home.
I lived in South Jersey where there weren’t many year-round jobs, a lot of seasonal work. I was out of work, it was coming up on Thanksgiving, and I was receiving food stamps for my family and I was going to have everyone over for Thanksgiving. I was shopping at the IGA in Millville and every item I was adding in my head to keep from going over what I had. After a long, careful round of the aisles, I went to the checkout and got in line.
Being the holidays, the store was packed, the lines grew, and everyone was kind of getting antsy waiting to checkout. I watched as my total was rung up, realizing too late I had gone over what I had with me, so I stopped the woman and said, “Wait, I’ll have to put some things back … ” You could feel all eyes on me as I held up the line.
I was trying to mentally go over what I could do without when the man behind me in line reached out his hand to me and tried to give me a twenty-dollar bill. I politely refused, but he insisted and told me this story. “I just came from the hospital where my mother is dying from cancer. I visit her everyday and I bring her flowers. Today she got angry with me and told me to quit bringing her flowers, as they weren’t necessary and the money could be better spent … so this twenty-dollar bill is my mother’s flowers.
Well I have passed them on many times and I always wonder if he ever knew just how grateful I was that day.