He retired from work. He moved out of his old house and bought a new home. It wasn’t a nice place, but it was in a decent neighborhood. And the house had a detached garage apartment.

I’ll call him Sam, but he was more than just a Sam. He was special is what he was. On his outside, he was a fella with gray hair, a drywall man, a widower.

On the inside, he was a giant.

Long ago, his wife died from cancer. He thought his life was over. He gave up day-to-day living and stayed in his bathrobe for months. He ate cartons of ice cream, he quit doing laundry, stopped shaving.

He retired from work. He moved out of his old house and bought a new home. It wasn’t a nice place, but it was in a decent neighborhood. And the house had a detached garage apartment.

That’s where it all happened.

The first person to live in the apartment was a young man he’d met at a diner. The kid was a waiter. He was covered in tattoos and piercings. They started talking.

As it happened, the kid was late on child support, behind on taxes, and homeless. It broke Sam’s heart.

So he let the kid live in the apartment, rent free. After only a year, the kid had saved up enough money to make child support, and get onto his feet.

The second person to live in Sam’s garage apartment was a young woman with three girls. Her husband was injured in a work accident—it crushed his ribs and spine.

Sam let the woman live in the apartment while she visited her husband’s rehab every day. Sam even babysat her girls. When her husband got released, the family lived in that one-bedroom place for two years.

The third person to live in the apartment was an elderly man who was legally blind. He’d lost eighty percent of his vision and couldn’t live on his own.

Sam opened his door.

On the day the man moved in, Sam gave him a walkie talkie. “Use this to call me,” Sam said. “Any time of the day or night.”

The radio got used a lot. Right up until the day the old tenant finally passed.

And I’m only getting warmed up.

A nineteen-year-old boy once lived in that garage apartment. The kid had been released from a detention center. He had no family, no friends.

Sam helped the kid. He called in favors and got the kid a job with a landscaping crew. He didn’t stop there. He threw birthday parties for the young man, Super Bowl parties, poker nights, movie nights, trips to the beach, and cookouts. He treated the kid like family.

Today that kid owns his own company and has his own family.

Sam’s garage apartment was also home to a woman and her son—a boy with autism. The single mother had been living in a bad neighborhood, her life was an uphill battle. Sam gave her a free place to stay and helped her with bills.

He bought her groceries, he babysat her son when she was at work. He taught the boy to play football. He taught the child to swim.

But these are just some of the highlights of that little one-bedroom apartment owned by the simple gray-haired man. If the sheetrock in that place could only speak, I’ll bet it would tell all sorts of stories about the people who lived there.

I understand there are many of these sorts of stories.

But if you ask me, the real story isn’t about single mothers, wayward souls, or blind old men with two-way radios. It’s about a gray-haired somebody who had an extra room. About a man who never made the newspaper, who never won any awards, a man who didn’t want his name used.

A man who once thought his life was over after his best girl died from cancer.

“To us he was ‘Dad,’” said Sam’s daughter. “But to a lot of people he was kind of an angel, you know?”

Yes. He kind of was.

And as of last week, Sam finally got his wings.

27 comments

  1. Judi - May 4, 2018 5:43 am

    Wow! You are a hummingbird Sean!! Flitting around looking for the nectar! Too many vultures out there!! (I stole these thoughts from a story I read yrs ago).

    Reply
  2. Sharlyn S. Hinz Prestage - May 4, 2018 6:05 am

    Beautiful! I want a garage apartment!

    Reply
  3. Melissa - May 4, 2018 6:21 am

    That gray haired old man could have been my grandfather. I lived with my grandparents in a huge old antebellum house with a garage apartment out back. He rented that apartment to a lesbian couple because, in the 50’s, no one else would rent to them. Then, he rented it to a series of people down on their luck until they could get back on their feet. He became disabled long before I was born but that didn’t stop him from doing good deeds, like taking care of an unwanted grandchild or renting to people who would otherwise not have a roof over their heads. Good men and women exist just like the 4 leaf clovers in our backyard. You just have to look for them to find them among all the other less special ones.

    Reply
  4. Beth Reed - May 4, 2018 6:46 am

    Oh wow what a beautiful soul this man was. He had something called compassion and if the world only had half of what he had can you imagine how the world would be today and especially tomorrow?
    There is a lot of great souls in our world but we need more Sam’s.
    Thanks for helping me believe that the planet is just a little bit brighter and a little bit more kind.
    I know Sam is using his wings to make a difference even in Heaven. Hugs, Beth

    Reply
  5. Gary - May 4, 2018 9:26 am

    We need more Sams in this world. It would be a much better world if there were.

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    • Terri - May 4, 2018 2:00 pm

      Agreed!!!

      Reply
  6. Pam - May 4, 2018 9:31 am

    Sam will live in my heart – and remind me to look for opportunities to bless someone ♥️

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  7. Amy - May 4, 2018 11:23 am

    I imagine this is how life would look if all of us who claim to serve the Master really did.

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  8. Jo Ann - May 4, 2018 11:36 am

    Thank you, again, Sean, for starting my day off in the right direction. I think stories about good people encourage other good people. They do not go unnoticed.

    Reply
  9. Donna Powell - May 4, 2018 11:57 am

    I had tears in my eyes by the time I finished reading this. I wish there were more Sams in the world.

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  10. Connie Havard Ryland - May 4, 2018 12:57 pm

    I needed this today. I was just talking to someone about the awful things that people are capable of. I needed a dose of clean sweetness. Love and hugs.

    Reply
  11. Edna B. - May 4, 2018 1:04 pm

    I love today’s story. Thank you for starting my day with a smile. Hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  12. Sue Cronkite - May 4, 2018 1:41 pm

    There are many angels out there. People helping others is a wonderful thing. Thanks for your upbeat nature and your stories.

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  13. Laura - May 4, 2018 1:45 pm

    There are so many good people out there and they are good with no one watching. What a great lesson this man taught his daughter!! I know God greeted him with “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

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  14. Terri - May 4, 2018 2:01 pm

    Thank you for sharing and reminding us there is still good in this world!

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  15. Diana Williams - May 4, 2018 3:28 pm

    I love hearing of the “Unsung Hero’s” God places people perfectly. It sounds like this man did exactly what God ask of him. “Well done, good and faithful servant”

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  16. Jack Quanstrum - May 4, 2018 3:36 pm

    Fly Sam Fly!

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  17. Linda Hodges - May 4, 2018 4:17 pm

    Such a beautiful story! Sam hope you are smiling too as you read this!

    Reply
  18. Janet Mary Lee - May 4, 2018 4:21 pm

    Bless Sam and all those whom he helped. We need to hear these stories! We need to be Sams and encourage others to be that, too. The world desperately needs it! Thank you for noticing!!

    Reply
  19. Nancy - May 4, 2018 7:12 pm

    Fly high and free Sam. You earned it.

    Reply
  20. Minnie Bourque - May 4, 2018 8:06 pm

    Beautiful, Sean, simply beautiful! We could all learn from this story.
    Thank you once again for waking up my soul.
    Hugs!

    Reply
  21. Jack Darnell - May 4, 2018 9:14 pm

    as always a great post. This one out of the park!

    Reply
  22. Dianne - May 4, 2018 9:40 pm

    I am sure he got a super-sized set of wings! Thanks for making my day!!

    Reply
  23. Barbara Schweck - May 4, 2018 11:52 pm

    Reminds me of my husband. We owned a duplex and Richard only charged what he thought the single parents with children could afford. When the mother (and there was a single father as well) was able to get on her feet after a few years, he would ask her to let another person in need give him a call. At a memorial service for one of these single parents, many of the former tenants got up to speak about how blessed they were to have been led to Mr Schweck. He was so surprised at how he had touched their lives and their children. Not once did he ever share this with his family, he just knew it was the right thing to do.

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  24. Arlene - May 5, 2018 12:56 am

    Thank you for the lump in my throat. You make me feel. And I am grateful. God bless Angel Sam.

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  25. Joanie Virgil - May 5, 2018 2:08 pm

    Sam’s simple goodness is such a smile maker. Thanks, Sean, for sharing it 😉

    Reply
  26. Jo - May 6, 2018 3:42 pm

    What a wonderful man, that Sam.

    Reply

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