Generosity Begets Generosity
After many games, the wear and tear on my hockey helmet loosened a screw and dropped out so that the helmet came apart. I was not allowed to play until it was repaired.
I was ten at the time, the second youngest of six children in a home raised by a widow; and my oldest brother, though older by five years, was still a mere teenager. I say this, because I recognize now how unfair it was to expect him to take on the father role he was thrust into. At the time, I didn’t go to him for the simple solution of helmet repair.
Instead, I took my helmet to McLeod’s Hardware store located on the main street of my small home town, and looked rather helplessly at a wall of nuts and bolts and various screws.
Mr. McLeod, the proprietor of the hardware store, came up to me and asked what I needed, and then said, “You’re Paul’s son, aren’t you?”
“Sad the way he went,” Mr. McLeod said. What was there to be said?
He asked what I was looking for, and if I had ever repaired a helmet before. He quickly realized he had ran out of the right nuts and bolts for hockey helmets, so he put on his coat and took me with him to go to his competitor a block away.
We walked there together, bought the nuts and bolts, and returned to his hardware store where he re-assembled my helmet, tightened the other bolts, and sent me on my way without paying.
It was an unexpected little grace. Really, a forgettable little event that stuck with me over the years. A man who knew I was fatherless; a man who could see I was simply in need of an easy repair. But it has loomed larger over the years as I have raised my own children, and as I coached hockey and mentored youth.
It was one of those acts of kindness that I was not owed. Surely an inexpensive gift, but it spoke more about the man than about me. Or it might’ve been about whatever relationship he may have had with my dad—or about his faithful response to “taking care of the widow and fatherless.”
Whatever it was that motivated him that day, I have kept the story with me. I share it as one of those (many) gifts along the way that are meant to be paid forward—for generosity begets generosity.