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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

SLICE 6- THE KINDNESS OF A STRANGER




The envelope is is on the corner of the dining room table, mixed in with about a dozen other pieces of junk mail.  A flyer from Allegra's, a neighborhood pizza place. I start to toss it. But then, because the envelope is hand-written, I open it. A menu flutters out, but so do two more pieces of paper. The first is a note. Handwritten. From a man named Tony, the owner of Allegra's.

A few months ago,  a Denver Post reporter wrote an article about my boys. The article told the story of our family-- how the boys had been in foster care, how I had met and adopted them, the road we had travelled since then. It made life with three teenagers sound a lot more Beaver Cleaverish, or Walton-esque than it actually is, but it was still really nice, and the photographer took gorgeous pictures of my very handsome sons.

Tony read the Denver Post article. He was writing to thank me for my hard work with the boys. He enclosed a gift certificate, enough to purchase dinner one night. I was blown away by his kindness. I could not believe that someone we had never met would take the time to write a note, then track us down. Or that in these very difficult economic times, a small business owner would donate a gift certificate to a complete stranger. His kindness made me cry. I put the gift certificate in a drawer in the dining room, saving it for a night when I really "needed" it.

Tonight is that night.

We start our state tests today. My fourth graders have worked really, really hard. And I'm so proud of them. Thrilled with their growth. But they are children of poverty. English language learners. And the state tests are always, umm, let's just say interesting.

And Thursday is the district job fair.  My school is closing. I am a single mom. With two kids going to college. I have to find a new job. And I'm terrified.

Today is also my birthday. My family lives two hours away. We celebrated last weekend. My friends are celebrating on the 17th. I have a football board meeting tonight. It will be just another day.

Except for one thing.

Tonight, thanks to the kindness of a stranger, we are having pizza.

Thank you, Tony.

18 comments:

Kat said...

I love this post. Small kindnesses make a big difference. Good luck with your job search!

Franki said...

Happy Birthday, Carol! And I loved the story/video of you and your kids. What a great way to start my morning.

Linda at teacherdance said...

Happy Birthday Carol. First of all I finally read your post from yesterday & both chuckled then worried about all the things we do take for granted. The testing is so narrow in its scope. Thanks for sharing your frustration. Then, your story today does my heart good. That Tony (Uva) is a former parent of mine and his daughter "Allegra" was my student. If you remember & have time, please say hello for me. Next, I didn't know your boys were adopted; my children are too, and my brother's are. What a wonderful thing it is! And finally, good luck at the job fair.

Dana said...

Happy Happy Birthday! Good luck with the job fair - you'll rock it! May testing go swiftly and painlessly. Enjoy your pizza. I enjoyed your story - thank you for sharing.

Ruth Ayres said...

It's your birthday and yet you give us this gift of your story.

I'm in love with the way God builds families.

Best of luck with the job search. I can't even begin to imagine the stress you are under.

Enjoy the pizza.
Hugs,
Ruth

MaryHelen said...

Carol, Happy 'You-Rock-as-a-teacher-mother-believer-in-others' Birthday!
Bless, Tony for his kindness and bless you for sharing your heartfelt story with us. Be encouraged for Thursday!

elsie said...

Carol, I knew you were special when I began reading your slices, this absolutely sealed the deal. What a journey for you and your kids! I am so glad someone in the community has a heart as big as yours. Enjoy that pizza and I hope the boys sing a loud and strong Happy Birthday to you!

Nanc said...

I want to write Tony a letter and thank him- I think I'll have Jeff stop in and do it... his kindness is wonderful. Of course, you will land in just the right spot next year...how sad that your school closes its doors. xo Happy birthday Carol !

Deb Day said...

This slice brought tears to my eyes--the sadness and scariness of losing your job, the simple kindness of a stranger, and the fact that it's your birthday... it's simply stated, but it says so much. I hope you and your boys have a wonderful time tonight. Happy Birthday and thanks for sharing the kindness of strangers with us!

Jaana said...

English language learners are my life!! I will say a blessing for you. From one single mother to another!

Tara said...

Happy birthday, Carol! I'm so full of admiration for you, and can't thank you enough for sharing your story with us. I know you'll have a lovely pizza dinner with your boys, in special place, with kindness and appreciation all around. Good luck with the job fair!

Christy Rush-Levine said...

Incredible! It is clear that you are more than deserving of the kindness of strangers.

This story just kept delivering, and delivering. Your personal journey of adoption, the connection with the pizza restaurant owner, your school situation... you packed a whole lot of life into this slice. I feel lucky to have encountered it tonight! Happy Birthday (and all the days that follow)!

Katie said...

Something tells me that more good things are going to come your way. Maybe it's the full moon, or the power of the slicing community, I can't say. But be ready and when the signs appear follow them.

(Sh*t, this comment sounds like Deepak Chopra wrote it.)

I really do believe it though! Happy Birthday and Hugs.

Katie

Michelle said...

First of all, happy, happy birthday! What an amazing story you shared - I've learned so much more about you and your family. You are truly an amazing mom!!! I think about your story and your sons . . . and then I think about how thoughtful you think Tony is for sending the gift certificate. Did I tell you yet that I think you are amazing??? Good things will come your way. When one door closes . . . you know the rest. Let your positive light guide you - best of luck and I'm thinking about you!

Tammy said...

Pay it forward. You are blessed by your sons. Happy Birthday, I'm sure you enjoyed Tonys gift. I hope you met this stranger, as I'm sure you are now friends. I read your blog to my family as tears were in my eyes. You are amazing!

Carol said...

Thanks to everyone for your very kind words! State tests went pretty much as expected. But the pizza was delicious (I tried to talk to Tony personally, but he wasn't there tonight). And my boys were pleasant (which is not always true). Thanks, too, for your positive words about the job hunt…

Jone said...

Carol,
I am so glad to see you slicing. What a wonderful post. The kindness of strangers are amazing aren't they. I hope that you find a job where you can settle. And I hope your birthday was filled with joy and love.

Cathy said...

Carol,
I love this post. It's amazing how the kindness of a stranger can make our day. It's funny, this is at least the 4th post I've read tonight with conversation about testing. None of us believe it really tells all there is to know about our kids, yet we cannot seem to do anything about it. I am thinking positive thoughts as you have to search for a new job. I'm sure it is an unsettling time. As you said, however, tonight is your birthday. I hope you put all of that aside and found time to enjoy it eating pizza at Tony's.

Cathy