Tag Archives: pay it forward

A Special Saturday Story:) Mr. Dan

17 Dec

“In this world of memories, there’s no need for strangers.

-Kenshin to Kaoru”

Nobuhiro Watsuki

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The day before I left McKinney to fly back home to Chicago, I had some last minute Christmas orders, painting ornaments, shopping, and scrambling to get ready. I always like to share my Mr. Dan story. Most of my friends know it and laugh when I say, “I have to paint my Christmas gift for Mr. Dan’s dead wife.”

For those who haven’t heard the story…A few years back, I received a call from an artist friend who said that an elderly gentleman came into her art studio asking if she could paint on porcelain or chinaware. She recounted the story to me.

“A nice elderly gentleman has been buying a special hand-painted Christmas gift from a local artist for many years. He has been married for over fifty years, and every year he surprised her with a special white porcelain gift with bluebonnets painted on it, and an inscription on the back. She has passed away, but he wants to continue having a gift made. I know you paint on glass and paint bluebonnets, do you think you could help him out?”

Well, I was so moved and saddened that this man lost his wife, but wanted to continue the tradition of having a special gift made. I agreed to meet Mr. Dan and see if I could help him. We met at Snug on the Square, and he brought a few examples of previous gifts. I told him that I’d be happy to do that for him.

The hardest part was finding the right piece of white milk glass or porcelain. He left all the details to my discretion. I scoured antique shops and thrift stores looking for a perfect piece. When I found a lovely white chinaware heart shaped covered box, I painted it and wrote on the bottom, as petitioned, to Sue Lobe Dan, with the date. As I painted bluebonnets with glass paint, I felt so sad for Mr. Dan, and thought how he really must miss her. He still wants to get her a gift.

When all was done, I met Mr. Dan to give him his gift. He really liked it, and I was hoping it would give him comfort. Then, Mr. Dan said, “I’ll be able to sneak this in the house without Sue seeing it. She’s at her sister’s house.”

What? I didn’t say anything to Mr. Dan about his dead wife not being dead. I was too embarrassed. Then, it dawned on me. Oh! The artist who had painted the gift had passed away, not his wife. Now, every year around Thanksgiving, Mr. Dan calls and asks if I’d still be able to paint a gift for Sue. And, every year, I say of course, and laugh to myself. And every year, Mr. Dan takes out his check book to pay me, and I refuse to take his money. I tell him that my only payment is a hug and to give my best regards to his wife, Sue.

Mr. Dan walked, ever so slowly, back to his truck with his cane in one hand and gift in the other. I gave him a hug and said, “See you next year.” He smiled and said, “God willing.”

Tuesday:) Toni’s Talking to Strangers Again

11 Oct

“If I had a dollar for every stranger I talked to, I’d be very rich. Oh wait! I’m all the richer for the many wonderful strangers I’ve met and now call friend.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis

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I went to the store last week to pick up a cake, snacks and the fixings to make Hawaiian salad for for Miss Bonnie’s birthday party at Towne Creek. I went up and down all the aisles and bought a cartload of stuff. I piled all the bags in the bag of the car when I thought, “Crap! I forgot the cool whip.”  That’s the main ingredient formthrnHawaiin salad, I ran back into the store, literally. The ice cream wasn’t going to stay frozen long in the Texas heat. 

Three tubs of Cool Whip in hand, I scurried over to the short order line, and plopped the containers on the belt. When I turned around, there was an older gentleman with a Korean War Veteran cap on. I extended my hand and said, “Thank you for your service!” He said, “Thank you, Mam.”  He set down his one pound bag of ground coffee and shook my hand. 

We made our introductions, and my new friend Norman said that he lives in California, and was visiting his son here in McKinney. It’s funny how you can learn a lot about a person in the three or four minutes you chat while waiting in the grocery store line. 

Of course, I said, “Selfie time.” While we were exchanging the praises of the California weather and the friendly people in McKinney, Norman didn’t notice that I grabbed his coffee and put it on my bill. When I paid for the groceries, I asked  Sherri, the checkout gal,  for a separate bag for the coffee. Norman said, “No, no! That’s mine. You can’t pay for that.” Sherri just smiled and put the coffee in a bag. She thought we were together and that he was my dad or relative, and he  wanted to pay. 

I said, “That’s the least I can do for a veteran. Sherri asked, “That’s not your Dad?” I replied, “No, I just met Norman here in line two minutes ago. He’s a war veteran.” 


You may recall, a couple of weeks ago, a total stranger bought me an ice cream sundae at Braum’s.

 Just “paying it forward.” 

Thankful Thursday:) Saying Thank You

19 Aug

“The best way to say thank you for your blessings is to bless others with a thank you,”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis

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Yeah! We finally got some rain today! Not a lot of rain, but every little bit helps. The day was gloomy and muggy, almost steamy. I was grateful for the rain, but the heat and humidity made it feel for like a sauna outside.

I went for a morning walk, and by the time I came home, I was so sweaty that I slid in the door and guzzled three glasses of water. Shortly after I got home, I could hear the lawn mowers and leaf blower out my back door. Whenever I’m home, I go out and give the guys who mow my lawn some cold Dr. Peppers and some cookies or if I have any brownies lying around. 

Today, I decided that ice cream bars might be appreciated a little bit more. So, I went out to give them the ice cream, but the last guy had just closed the door and the truck started driving away. Thank goodness I know Spanish. I yelled out, “Espera!” (Wait) The truck came to a halt and one of the men jumped out. He probably thought there was a problem.

I handed him three ice cream bars and said, “Muchas gracias!” (There are always three guys) He had a big smile and said,”Gracias!” and scurried back to the truck. I’m sure the guys appreciated something cold and refreshing on such a muggy day. But, I’d also like to think that they felt good knowing that I appreciate what they do. They work hard, they make my house look nice, and I don’t think very many people ever say thank you.


I am very blessed. I blessed these gentlemen with a thank you and some ice cream on a hot day. Then, I decided to bless myself with an ice cream too. Why not!

Oh, the funny part of the story is, when I flung open the freezer door to grab the ice cream bars, I noticed that the inside of the freezer was all drippy with frost and hanging icicles. When I investigated the problem, turns out that an ice cube had been lodged in the ice dispenser flap and was letting the warm air into the freezer. I needed a spatula to scrape away the ice and frost. It was lucky that I went in there, as I rarely open the freezer door. Who knows what would have happened if left undetected until Friday night when I make my Black Russian with chocolate ice cream. Yikes! 

Thankful Thursday:) Blessings Shared

10 Jun

“Those blessings are sweetest that are won with prayer and worn with thanks.” ― Thomas Goodwin

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Tuesday, I shared my story about finding a wallet on the airplane and the adventures that followed. If you missed it, it was a good one. I’ll summarize. I found a wallet with $300, no I.D., just a business card. I called the person on the card. I was pretty sure if I turned it in, it wouldn’t get to the owner. The business card man said it wasn’t his, so he posted info on Facebook, and I found the rightful owner and mailed it to the young man. I have been blessed and believe in paying it forward. 


The mother of the young man was very grateful and sent me the following text….

Hi! My sister inlaw just texted and said she got the package today! I wish I had told you to use some of the money for shipping! Thank you so much for your kindness. I know XXXX would have felt horrible when he realized he left it on the plane. He’s an awesome 16 year old and I know he will follow threw with your request to pay it forward. He’s been going through some tough “teenage stuff” and went to Oklahoma to relax and clear his mind. After we talked I texted him and said ” you know that was God building your faith, right?” He said, “Yea mom. I know.” He is spending this week at a Christian Teenage Camp. You are the boost he needed and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Big HUG! XXXXX XXXXX

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When I read the text, I didn’t make it to the end before I got a little misty. I knew there was a reason I found the wallet and not someone else. Somewhere out there, there’s a young man who will pay a kindness forward, and he will know that there are good honest people in the world.

It feels great to do a kindness for a stranger, and you don’t always have to be thanked. But, when you are thanked, it feels pretty darn good. You can never be too grateful for your blessings. 

Tuesday:) Today, A Heartwarming Tale of “Paying It Forward.”

8 Jun

“A spiritual Samaritan lives knowing if he were to leave this word tomorrow, we were the best human we could be and we touched the lives as as many souls possible. We are not asked to be perfect. We are asked to make a difference.”

~Molly Friedenfeld

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Saturday, my good friend Karen drove me to the airport. I got there plenty early, with a quick trip through security. Lucky me. I had the opportunity to shake hands with a soldier in the waiting area, and a veteran on the plane. When I finally got to my designated seat, a pilot, who was traveling and seated in the seat behind me, helped me lift my heavy suitcase into the overhead. Another kindness. I was smooshed in the middle seat of row 22. No one was seated in the row in front. When I reached down to put down my purse, I saw a wallet on the floor in the row in front of me. No one was seated there, so I knew it had to belong to a previous passenger.

I looked inside and there was no driver’s license, or boarding pass, or personal info. There was only a business card and a Hollister gift card. I was really afraid to turn it in, because it would never get to the rightful owner. There was $300 in cash and no I.D. 


I immediately called the number on the business card, got a recorded voicemail, and said that I found his wallet. Then, texted the same info. No response. The plane took off shortly, and my phone was put on airplane mode. When I landed, I had a message that said, that was not his wallet, and perhaps turn it into security. Yah! Right! That money would be gone in a minute.

Joe picked me up from the airport, and I told him the story. He thought that was interesting. All the traffic, excitement of visiting with Joe and Lindsay, dodging the new dog, and dinner with Lindsay’s mom, I forgot about the wallet. 

Sunday after Mass, the store, and breakfast, I received a phone call from a woman who said she got my phone number from her boss. He posted on his Facebook page that someone with his business card in their wallet had contacted him about a lost wallet. She saw this and knew that her son, who had travelled to Oklahoma to visit an aunt and uncle, had lost his wallet. She called me on a three-way call with her son, who was with his aunt, me, and her. The young man had his mother’s boss’ card in his wallet. They were so ecstatic that the wallet was found by an honest person. What are the chances?

I said I would send the wallet in a priority box on Monday if they gave me an address. They couldn’t thank me enough. They really couldn’t believe that someone would be so honest. I said, “All I ask is that you pay it forward someday.” They assured me they would, and said, “Bless you!” (I feel pretty blessed all the time.)

Monday, I went to the post office, added a note, and sent off the wallet. I even paid the postage myself. Yep! If you do a kind press for a stranger, you are blessed tenfold.


If I left this world tomorrow, I know I was the best human I could be. I touched the lives of many. I am not perfect, but I made a difference.

Wednesday:) What In The World? …Day 11 “Pay It Forward”

24 Dec

“Because it proves that you don’t need much to change the entire world for the better. You can start with the most ordinary ingredients. You can start with the world you’ve got.” 
― Catherine Ryan Hyde, Pay It Forward

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Today begins my cookie baking extravaganza! I love to bake cookies at Christmas time. I don’t bake a couple of dozen cookies, I bake a couple of hundred! I’m trying out an experiment with a lemon cake mix, bake it, smoosh it up and add a can of lemon frosting, then roll into little cake balls and dip in white chocolate. Well, I made one cake mix,  and it was too mushy, so I baked another box of lemon cake. Let’s see if that works? I’ll keep you posted. 

Of course, I had to make a funny face with the mix. I’ve never used lemon before….

WHAT IN THE WORLD?

   
 
Day 11:) 12 Days of Christmas “Pay It Forward” or Random Acts of Kindness

My neighbor, Kathy, asked if I would paint some wine glasses for her Christmas dinner she was hosting with her family and friends. She purchased some fairly expensive glasses at Crate and Barrel, which made me a little nervous. So, I practiced on some inexpensive glasses I had at home and she loved the example. Plus, the colors, white and silver, matched her grandmother’s fine china. She also requested their names be written on the base, and that would be their place setting and gift. I worked all night and finished around 1:30 a.m. Then, I got up around 8 a.m. To bake them in the oven to heat set them.

  
The before…a little nervous…here we go!

  
The after…turned out great…I was pleased, as was Kathy. I saw her decorating outside  her house in the afternoon and told her they were ready. We each carefully took a box with six glasses each across the street to her house. She was so excited and was showing me her new table linens, decorations, etc.  Then came the big question, and out came the check book. 

I told her about my “Pay it forward” challenge and random acts of kindness, and asked her to simply pay it forward. Well, she was shocked and I got another big hug. I sure do get a lot of big hugs, don’t I? 

  
I know, I’m not a great photographer. She really had a big smile before the posing part. It felt good to know that I painted something lovely for a friend, and that her guests would receive a beautiful hand-painted wine glass. They are all strangers, except for Kathy. She’s going to take pictures of her table setting at Christmas so I can see how pretty everything looked. 

Luckily there’s only one more day left of pay it forward. I’m getting pretty tired staying up late and working on projects. The funny part is, I do these types of things all the time. I just never challenged anyone else to do the same.

Tomorrow is the final day, and my son Matt is flying in to spend Christmas with me. I’m so excited. I’m going to bake his favorite cookies, either tonight or tomorrow. Another late night!

Tuesday:) Taking Time and Day 10 of “Pay it Forward” Challenge

23 Dec

Take time to smell the roses

Take time to smell the air

Enjoy each lovely sunset

And don’t forget to share.

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis

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This morning, I discovered several still blooming roses and emerging buds on my solitary Knockout rose bush in my front yard.

  
Take time to smell the roses.

  
Look at this glorious sunset. I always take time to snap a quick photo.

Talk about sharing, today is Day 10 of my 12 Days of Christmas “Pay It Forward” Challenge.

Day 10:) A few weeks ago, I had posted some photos of my hand-painted wine glasses and vases on Facebook.  A gentleman had commented how nice my items were and asked if I had any champagne flutes left for sale.  He thought his wife would love them and they’d make a great Christmas gift. Mark is a talented photographer, and it’s always a huge compliment for one artist to admire another’s work. We arranged to meet at Sweet Spot Bakery on the Square this afternoon. When I showed him the flutes, he was impressed. When he took out his checkbook, I explained my “pay it forward” challenge and told him that it was my gift. I did request that he do something nice for someone when an opportunity presented itself. He assured me that he would. We chatted a while about photography, the square, starving artists, and random acts of kindness. Mark and I had never met in person before, just Facebook friends, but today we parted with a smile, a hug, and a promise of making the world a better place, one random act at a time.

  
Don’t tell Mark’s wife. It’s a surprise.