The Good Things in Life > Random acts of kindness and grace

story from the past

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--- Quote from: doodlemor on June 11, 2012, 09:41:02 PM ---A line in a song about a cow going dry reminded me of something my grandmother told me that happened around the year 1900, and about the kindness of a neighbor.

My grandma was born on a small farm in rural Pennsylvania in 1891, on what could be called a subsistence farm.  She had 5 living brothers and sisters.  Food was not plentiful there - she told me how she and her siblings upset her mother by snatching half grown vegetables out of the garden to eat because they were always hungry. [My great-grandmother was afraid that all of the vegetables would be gone before they were big enough to harvest.]

Grandma told me that all of the children got the measles at the same time, and that they were very ill indeed.  They were hungry, and the cow had gone dry.  A poor, older, widowed woman who lived in a hut in the woods nearby had a cow which was still fresh.  Every day after she milked that cow she walked down to my grandma's home with a bucket of milk for the sick children.  This milk was all that they could digest for awhile.  I don't think that she expected any reward or recognition, she just was concerned for the family.  The widow likely shorted her own food intake for the sake of my grandma and her siblings.  All of those children lived to be adults, too.

How wonderful to think of such extraordinary kindness!  So, do any of you ehellions have stories to share of generousness and kindness in days gone by?

--- End quote ---
What a wonderful story.  It reminds me of one of my own.
Some years ago I met a very elderly lady and when she found out my family name told me that if it hadn't been for my Grandmother their family would have starved.  The lady was a young girl at the time and came from a large family, as was common n those days.  My own grandmother had 9 children and was also quite poor living in this rural isolated place where people really had to work hard to make it from day to day and I'm sure often went without.  People shared what they could.  Bless them all. 

My mom talks about things from her past. She was the youngest of nobody knows exactly how many kids. At family gatherings people will list who they remember in the family and we think it is somewhere around 16-18 kids. Most of the kids were taken away and put in foster care/adopted out, my mom was eventually adopted. “Grandma” died shortly after my mom was born giving birth to a set of stillborn twins.

Mom tells stories of when she was very little that a few of them were still with “Grandpa”. They had no money and no food because “Grandpa” was an alcoholic who drank away anything that came into his hands. They made a deal with a local restaurant owner that they would slop the pigs in exchange for eating whatever they wanted out of the bucket. Mom said that frequently, wrapped sandwiches and other items were in the bucket. The owner knew that “Grandpa” would throw a huge fit and beat the kids for taking charity so it was his way of feeding them but keeping them safe at the same time.

A small one from my grandfather, who was from a very poor immigrant family in Philadelphia circa 1920. He was very bright as a kid but couldn't go to high school as he had to take care of his brothers and sister after their father died. While he was in school though, one of his teachers bought him a pair of shoes. He never forgot her kindness.


--- Quote from: HungryHungryKitties on June 12, 2012, 05:27:49 PM ---Mine is not so much re-telling a story, as it is speculation.

In the genealogy research I have been doing, I found out that my great-great-grandparents moved with their two young daughters ages 2 and 3 from South Carolina to Mississippi in the late 1860's.  The 3-yo was my great-grandmother (GGM).  The family was there for only a few weeks when the parents contracted yellow fever and both died at the age of 24 within a weeks of each other.

After their parents' death, the girls were raised by their maternal grandmother in South Carolina.  The speculation is, how did they get back?  There were no family members in Mississippi that I can tell, so kind people either

1. cared for the girls until their relatives arrived to collect them, or
2. they were escorted by kind people back to their kin. 

Either way, there must have been community support that helped out.   I learned of this story recently from a newly acquainted cousin who is in his 90's, and remembers GGM (his grandmother) well.   

The whole story makes me a bit sad, appreciative of our medical care today, and appreciative of how we care for each other.

--- End quote ---
my paternal grandparents were born in poland (in an area called "galicia"). my grandmother lived in a city. at some point, some of her cousins became orphans (i'm not sure of the exact details). so those children moved in with my great grandparents and were raised alongside their own children. these were not rich people and they had I think 8 children of their own but there was no question that they wouldn't take in these orphans - that is just what people did.

Unfortunately, before WWII, my great grandparents moved with their family to the US but couldn't take these orphans with them. One of them went through Auschwitz and survived, eventually moving to Israel. I think the others perished in the Holocaust...

I hope I'm not breaking any rules resurrecting this thread, but I've just read it and wanted to add a story of my own.

I am British. As a child I had a German pen-friend (in fact we are still in touch 40 years on).  When this story happened, we were about 14 or 15 years old and had been writing to each other since we were 10.  Elke's father suggested that we might like to visit each other, so that summer I spent 2 weeks with her and her family and she visited us the following year.  Because of the differences in the school year, when I arrived to visit her, her school hadn't quite broken up for the summer, so I went to school with her for the first few days.  As we went into one lesson, she whispered to me that the next class was Maths, and nobody had much respect for the maths teacher, but it was the last maths lesson of the year so it couldn't be as bad as usual.  Anyway, we got seated and the teacher came in.  To my 14 year old eyes he was old (having done a quick calculation, he must have been in his late 50s).  He welcomed me as the class guest and started to tell me a story.  I had only been learning German for a few months, so I quickly lost what he was saying, but the whole class went silent and very still.  Then he gave me a single white rose, turned away very quickly and started the class as if nothing had happened.  I had to ask Elke what he said later on.  Here's the story.

When he was 16 years old he joined the army.  It was the last few months of WW2.  He was very young and very scared, but it was what he wanted and was expected to do.  After a couple of weeks of very basic training he and his fellow recruits were sent to the front line (I can't remember where it was but I did know once)  At some point he got separated from his troop and was trying to get back to them when he realised that a line of Allied soldiers were coming towards him across a field.  He hid in a ditch and tried to stay as still as possible.  The soldiers came closer and closer.  He was sure he was going to die and shut his eyes. Then he heard footsteps stop right above him. He opened his eyes and saw a soldier looking down at him.  The man said in English "You're only a kid, no older than my boy", unclipped his caddy of water from his belt, dropped it and walked on. 
He said that he always wanted to give thanks for that gesture, but had no idea how.  I was the first person from England he had met since that day so the rose was his thank you for the life he didn't expect to have.

Of course by the time I understood the story, I couldn't thank him in person, but I did write a letter that Elke gave to him the next term.

I still have the rose.


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