This morning, someone delivered groceries to Miss Wanda’s house on her porch. It is the 43rd day of Miss Wanda’s quarantine, and she already has plenty of groceries. The bags arrived unexpectedly. There was a note attached: “To Wanda, with hugs and kisses.”
Wanda is 93 years old. She has no idea who left the groceries. Or why. But when it was done, Wanda says she and her nurse were looking around for hidden cameras.
“We thought it was some kinda joke,” Wanda said.
Her nurse wiped down every item—even the Raisinettes and the Milk Duds—with bleach and rubbing alcohol.
“I like Raisinettes,” said Wanda. “But they’re too hard to chew. Milk Duds are pretty good, though.”
Sometimes I wonder what gets into people. What makes them do nice things? I have met some pretty good eggs in my time. Good people who had nothing to gain from being nice and yet, somehow, they still were. Why? That’s what I’ve been asking myself all day since I heard about Wanda. Why?
Take me, for instance. Occasionally I do major selfless acts. Like selflessly leaving the peanut butter and jelly jars on the counter with the lids off after I make a sandwich. Just in case someone wants to use them later. I even leave the knife in the jar.
Or, for example, when there is only one biscuit left at the supper table. I am moved with compassion to do the selfless thing. This is because of something my mother always said when I was a kid: “Do not ever take the last biscuit or I will stab you with salad tongs.”
So I never take the last biscuit. In fact, I wouldn’t dream of it. I simply take three quarters of the last biscuit.
I know you are probably thinking I am too self-sacrificing, but I do it for love.
Even so, I have known some gracious people who easily outdo me. People so kindhearted they make Santa Claus look like a jerk. The funny thing is, these people never look like you think they are going to look.
Like the man I used to work with when I painted houses. We painted exteriors, interiors, stained decks, sprayed fences. It was miserable work. You came home every night covered in a shade of a neutral color.
One time we were painting this 80-year-old’s house, and my pal became friends with this old man. Pretty soon, we were always over there doing fix-it work.
Every time we were at his house, my pal would prepare the old man a huge lunch. Then, after lunch he would read out loud to the man from various novels.
You should have seen this little old man. He was in seventh heaven. He was half blind. The one thing he told us he missed most was reading.
I wish you could have heard my buddy read these books in his downhome voice. If only I had recordings. He sounded like George Lindsey reciting Hamlet.
The thing is, I never expected this kind of behavior from my friend. It’s not that he wasn’t a good guy, he was. It’s just that he didn’t fit the profile of a saint. He often drank too much, he was always having problems with money, he cussed a lot. I think he had even gone to jail once, but he never talked about it.
Then there was the woman who worked at a restaurant where I used to wash dishes. She was a rough customer. A harsh waitress, mid-fifties, smoked maybe six packs per day. Always in a bad mood.
After every shift, she would collect the restaurant’s unwanted leftovers—huge vats of old lasagna, cold cuts, leftover soups, gravies, day-old bread, etc. She would collect it all, place it in foil covered casserole pans, then deliver it to the homeless people who hung out by the dumpsters behind the Winn-Dixie.
I went with her once. When we arrived with that hot food, people swarmed us like ants. You heard all sorts of God-bless-yous coming from people speaking with full mouths. It was humbling.
Then there was the guy I grew up with. He and his wife couldn’t have kids. They looked into adoption, fertility therapy, foster care, but nothing seemed to fit. Eventually, they gave up trying. A few years later, my friend’s brother-in-law died in an automobile accident and left my friend with a little girl.
In some weird way, it was a kind of miracle, only in reverse. What I mean by this is: my friend and his wife would have never had so much room in their hearts for this little girl if they would’ve had children. They built their lives around that little girl. Today, that girl is in college.
And it just amazes me. When I think about the kinds of people who do good things. They NEVER look like you think they are going to look. You think they are going to come charging from the gates appearing like Mother Teresa, or Saint Francis, or George Beverly Shea with a fresh haircut. But they don’t.
Sometimes their personal lives are a mess. Sometimes they are far from perfect. Sometimes they are pretty screwed up. But they wander the earth in disguise, doing things like delivering groceries to a 93-year-old woman, even though she never asked them to.
One day, if I am fortunate, I hope to be like one of these good people. I’m not there yet, but I’m trying.
Until then, guard your biscuits.
Annie Franklin - April 17, 2020 7:37 am
It’s 2:32 A.M. in Montgomery AL.. sitting here enjoying this story. Thanks for making me remember how simple life used to be before Covid-19 and shelter in place. I’m a 69 year old woman and I too remember when acts of kindness were the way we were, but now most of us are to afraid to even speak to our neighbors. Thanks again for uplifting my spirits.
Lita - April 17, 2020 8:42 am
Distant hugs to you and yours, Sean.
Curtis Lee Zeitelhack - April 17, 2020 8:46 am
You can have the whole last biscuit at my house, Sean. You’re welcome!
Meredith Smith - April 17, 2020 8:49 am
Sean, sometimes an angel just can’t see his own wings. 🙂
Meredith Smith - April 17, 2020 8:52 am
Sean, sometimes angels can’t see their own wings. 🙂
Tammy S. - April 17, 2020 11:10 am
Man looks on the outward appearance, God looks at the heart. ❤️
Tammy S. - April 17, 2020 11:10 am
Beth Ann Chiles - April 17, 2020 11:39 am
I would say you are already there, Sean. Btu those who are angels don’t always see that in themselves –they are just doing the right thing. <3
Joe Patterson - April 17, 2020 12:04 pm
Thanks for sharing Even with all the greed and hoarding I still believe the good people out number the bad
Dianne - April 17, 2020 12:31 pm
Another wonderful column from you today. Angels do walk among us every day. I love the “angels” who do selfless things for others without ever tooting their horn about what they do. The important thing is that God knows who these angels are, and one day they will be rewarded for their selflessness.
Jo Ann - April 17, 2020 12:46 pm
Thank you, again, Sean. You are a ray of sunshine in our cloudy world. You remind us that there are good people around us, even though they get little attention otherwise.
Glenda Hinkle - April 17, 2020 12:55 pm
You always get my head into the right perspective…..what’s important and what’s not. THIS is important. Thank you, Sean for starting my day off “adjusted”…….YOU DA MAN!!!
Becky Jackson - April 17, 2020 12:58 pm
Sean, I read this story in my hometown, Laurel, MS.
My county was struck by the twin 2 mile wide super-tornados on Easter Sunday evening, just last week. Before midnight, Angels began arriving in pickups towing tools, earth moving machines, ropes, and more chainsaws than I knew existed, Some arrived with trailers converted into kitchens and began serving the most delicious heavenly barbecue and sandwiches that melted away anxiety with every bite.
Local Angels swarmed this devastated countryside with food, water, sweet tea and the recent most precious commodity, toilet paper, Angels are always amongst us, They have traded their white robes and halos for blue jeans and baseball caps and we love and appreciate every one of them, Take care & thank God,
Cathi Russell - April 17, 2020 1:05 pm
Oh Becky Johnson & Sean Dietrich, y’all have made my day!
Ala Red Clay Girl - April 17, 2020 1:45 pm
Although the newspaper/TV news often don’t show it, there is still a lot of good things going on in this world. We just have to look for it…or perhaps we are the ones who have to create it.
Steve Winfield (Lifer) - April 17, 2020 2:12 pm
When I got home yesterday a 20lb bag of dog food & a $20 Dominos card was on my porch. I eventually learned it was from a guy I had helped a few yrs ago. Ain’t life amazing sometimes?
Love you both.
Diane H. Toney - April 17, 2020 2:28 pm
Angels all around us——-without halos or wings.
Marc Beaver - April 17, 2020 2:46 pm
This is so well said…and true. I know some of those kinds of people. You destroy then to a T! God bless them and you.
Judy - April 17, 2020 2:56 pm
You never know who or where the angels are….but they are working extra shifts these days. It reminds us to be kind to our fellow man, just a smile or word of encouragement and the angel comes through us…and Sean, I will fix you an entire basket of biscuits with butter, you precious man.
geri worley - April 17, 2020 3:33 pm
Sean, you ARE there. Gifts arrive in all shapes, sizes and forms. Your words are a gift. They have blessed me more than you will ever know.
Linda Moon - April 17, 2020 4:38 pm
There are lots of good eggs and even Angels among us. You, Sean, are one of them with your attempts to find the answers to the elusive “Why”. I believe the Mouseketeers may have said it best: “Why? Because we LIKE you! See you real soon!” —- (when the quarantines end).
Grant Burris - April 17, 2020 6:42 pm
This was another great one Sean. It really touched me. You have a special way of doing that. .I admire it. I like those disguised people you refer to. Those who help out unexpectedly. I really like those people.I’ve known a few. Thanks for reminding me of them.
Nan - April 18, 2020 4:04 am
that is jack - April 19, 2020 3:24 am
I enjoyed the read. Thanks for today’s good ‘fairly’ honest entry..(The p-nut butter & jelly thing bares question). Yes there are great folk around. the regular John & Jane Does’. who do good. I’m with you. We do have some great folk in this world, even my wife! LOL
Love from NC
Sherry & jack
Margi - April 19, 2020 11:13 pm
oh, yes you are there, Sean!