The Gift of Time

By Luanne Myers
Washington, USA

The Gift of Time

The summer of 1991, my husband and I moved from Texas to the state of Washington with our four young children. We had been bankrupt, we didn’t have jobs, we didn’t know anyone in this new community, and after renting a house we had less than $200 left to get started. Fortunately, I found a job within two weeks and we were on our way to a degree of stability.

But, several months after our arrival, my husband left us. He enlisted in the army and filed for divorce. Sometimes I couldn’t eat or stop shaking, I was so afraid of what might become of us. During this hard time, many people befriended us and helped, but there was one man whose friendship and selflessness I will never forget.

My mother visited the next summer. She fussed around the flower beds while I was at work, and one day she noticed a lawn maintenance truck parked next door and an elderly man working in the yard. She walked over, and they struck a price to dig out a weed-bound bed of iris as a surprise gift to me. After my mom returned to California, this man came to work on the flower bed. I was delighted.

Throughout the day, he worked, the kids pestered and helped him, and we talked off and on. Wayne was a retired Lutheran Chaplain to the Seamen, and he and his wife had moved to Bellingham to care for her mother. Wayne had started his yard maintenance business to make their financial ends meet.

The following week, I came home from work one day and my half-acre lawn was mowed. Now, this task normally took me three hours. I figured it must have been Wayne who did this for me.

The next Saturday, instead of my exhausting chore of lawn mowing, the kids and I packed a picnic and took off for a long hike at the end of a lake.

As weeks passed, my lawn continued to be mowed. I kept an eye out for Wayne’s truck next door, and finally there it was. I went over and asked why he was mowing my lawn. He said he could tell I was alone with four little children, and working full time. He said it was a simple thing he could do to give me relief and more time with my children. He wouldn’t let me pay him.

Wayne mowed my lawn until I remarried two years later. He didn’t just mow our lawn, he looked out for us. Sometimes, he would stop by to talk and have a cup of coffee. Just his presence in my life gave me that extra boost of reassurance to keep trying and stay afloat. Wayne was the type of person and friend that I knew I could call on if I needed help in any way. Fortunately, that desperate need never arose, but for me, he was like a life preserver in a rough sea.

Originally published as HeroicStories #291 on March 28, 2002

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