by Tari Jacobson, Wasilla, Alaska
A woman in front of me rummaged through her purse looking for a gift card to complete the remaining $14 of her grocery purchase, which was just over $30. When she found her gift card and the cashier swiped it, the card was empty. I slid $14 to the cashier. She tried the gift card one more time, then acted as if the transaction had gone through successfully. The woman got the groceries that she needed without finding out that I’d paid the remainder of her bill.
by Lorraine Fox, Caldwell, Idaho
It was September 14, 2001. I had gathered the class for a story to end our labors of the day. Suddenly, a crack of thunder came from above. A little boy across from me began whimpering. I whispered a few calming words, but more children joined in, some with tears in their eyes. Soon, all 28 first-graders were crying. I realized it was not a storm above, but the gamut of emotions from millions of people in the infinitely longest and saddest week in American history, funneling down to the hearts of tender little children.
MY SISTER’S FINGER
by Cora McClure, Dallas, Texas
My sister was 16 and I was seven. On summer days, our mother would allow her to drive to the drugstore to buy a fashion magazine. Cissy would call to me, “Do you want to go with me?” What a thrill! Off we would go. When we arrived, she would hold out her forefinger for me to hold. The finger had a tiny wart on it. I am now 85, and she has been gone 22 years, but I can still feel that finger with its little wart, held out in loving kindness to a little sister.
LITTLE BROTHER, GROWN UP
by LoyAnn Rossel, Lincoln, Nebraska
When we first married, my husband was in Big Brother program. His Little Brother, John, was 10 years old. They had two great years together until John’s mother had to move out of state. We wondered about him over the next 30 years—his name was so common that we had no way of finding him on the Internet.
One day, our garage door broke. As the repairman answered the phone and repeated my husband’s name, standing next to him at that moment was John. He was married with three wonderful children, and had been looking for us, too!
CONSIDERATE AUNT CAROLINE
by David Charvat, Wheeling, West Virginia
My Aunt Caroline, whose strength was slipping, lived in my hometown. Occasionally she fell, and I would lift her back up. When I began dating Sarah, who’s now my wife, A-Caroline kept up with our relationship. She wasn’t shy. The first time I invited Sarah to my house for a meal and a movie, A-Caroline knew every detail. At the end of our date that evening, A-Caroline called and asked if I would come over after Sarah left. When I got there, I found her on the floor. She had fallen hours earlier, but didn’t want to bother our date.
FINDING SWEETNESS IN SORROW
by Fred Hoffman, Tampa, Florida
I volunteer at a free café feeding homeless and hungry people. One day, a frail lady in her late 40s wearing many layers of clothing walked up and down the line of people waiting to be served, handing out little candy hearts. She sat at my table and told me her story: Once her children were grown, her husband had severely beaten her and cast her into the street. After she became homeless, she learned that he had given her AIDS. She knew she was dying, but gave out candy hearts to try and bring happiness into every person’s day.