How Could She Tell?

by Crystal C.
Oregon, USA

How Could She Tell

Early in 1999, our family had to drive several hundred miles to Billings, Montana, to visit a hospitalized family member. Between travel, lodging, and having given most of our available cash to help relatives out with expenses, we had very little money when we left to return home. It was dusk when we drove out of Billings.

We didn’t notice at first that our headlights were dimming, and that’s probably why we missed the exit for the interstate leading home. About 40 miles later, we began to see that nothing along the highway was familiar. In 35 more miles, we saw an exit to a town that wasn’t anywhere near where we were supposed to be.

With eight miles to the next exit, we realized the headlights were dangerously dim. The car began to sputter, and I had to turn off the lights to keep it running. At the foot of the exit ramp, there was a small post office. The car stopped running completely as we pulled into the parking lot.

I soon determined that the alternator wasn’t working. It was 7:00 p.m. and we were in Rosebud, Montana, a tiny town with no services.

To make things worse, heavy snow was falling. We needed to find our family a safe place to spend the night and find an alternator to fix the car in the morning.

We couldn’t see any other buildings, and the rest of the town was nearly a mile away. Even if we walked there, we knew there was probably no motel or parts store.

Just then, a lady stopped to check her mail before heading home. I asked if she had a few minutes to help charge up our battery and where we could find food, lodging, and car parts. She gave what we needed and more.

She suggested we go to Forsyth, about seven miles away. We followed her with only our parking lights on so the car wouldn’t die again. She led us to a motel, where she insisted on paying for the room. While we were settling into the room, she returned with a meal she had purchased for us.

The next morning she came back! She took us to the parts store and insisted on buying an alternator for us. While I was fixing the car, she got us another meal — and as we were leaving, she filled our tank and insisted we take some money for the trip home.

She did all those things for us when we had just asked for a jump-start and a few recommendations. How she could tell what else we needed and why she gave us so much, I don’t know. But I know how much it meant to us. Perhaps her greatest gift was to give us a memory of one person who would do so much for complete strangers.

Originally published as HeroicStories #729 on November 6, 2007 

10 thoughts on “How Could She Tell?”

  1. The generous lady could tell because she listened to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in her heart, just like so many of the good people in these stories.

  2. This powerful story makes me want to be better, and do better, at helping others. The way this lady constantly went beyond what was asked was more than just the HS, as Lisa said, it was an expression of love. I have the Holy Spirit too, but I don’t always have love, not the love that this lady had anyway. That’s why her example is so important, because this is an attitude to be cultivated, not one that you are zapped with.

  3. This is a beautiful story. Although I couldn’t answer how she knew, I have experienced and seen similar situations where help just comes through in the most amazing ways. Consider also the possibility that she had been looking for a way to help someone, to pay back, to pay forward, or whatever, and you showed up! There are many sides to even just one story, and not even the participants will get to know them all. It is simply delicious to know this.

  4. Some people can just “tell” because of an inner sense of “knowing”. They just “know” because they can “see”, not from their eyes but through hearts that can hear. My interpretation of Holy Spirit is “love in motion”.

    What a beautiful dance of love, caring and generosity the family opened up initially. And what powerful “wings of love” kept returning their selfless generosity to them.

  5. People who do such kind and generous things are humans, not angels. If you wait for some holy spirit to prompt you to do good, it may never happen. Do good because it’s the right thing to do and it makes this a better world for everyone. Give credit to those who do good for the people they are — you don’t have to attribute human goodness to religious beliefs or believe they are supernatural beings like angels. Many people are kind and good without any religion prompting them.

    I think the point of Heroic Stories is to encourage ordinary people to do what they can, no matter how small, to make the world better, and anyone can do so, religious or not.

  6. I don’t have a lot to add to the comments above. This is a heart-warming story and it doesn’t matter what name one gives to this person, be it angel or just a good person, who knew how to give what was needed and when it was needed. Some people are imbued with the spirit of good and there are lessons to be learned from their behavior i.e. what it means to give without expecting returns.


Leave a Comment