by Irene Budzynski
Times were tough in our household. My husband was out of work and there
was no sign of anything promising for him. Our son had been in a diving
accident and was recuperating at home after two surgeries. In addition
to going to nursing school full time, I was working three part time jobs
just to put food on the table for our family of five.
After a rather meager meal one night, I answered the ringing phone. With no
introduction, a quiet, deep voice asked, "Do you need food? Come to my
place and I can help you." Directions followed and he clicked off. No in
depth conversation or queries as to our financial situation. Our order was
given, and it was up to us to decide whether or not we trusted a voice on
the telephone to seek out this stranger.
I was desperate. With barely any food in the cabinet and no prospect of
a job for my husband, I knew I had to take a chance, swallow my pride,
and accept the bizarre offer. Was there a catch? Were we the victims of a scam?
It wasn't an easy task to get to our benefactor's home. Miles of wooded,
winding roads led to more wooded, winding roads. Someone must have
played a cruel joke on us. Just as I had made up my mind to turn around,
gritting my teeth over the waste of precious gas used on this wild goose
chase, a mailbox appeared in the headlights.
The simple white, raised ranch home was easy to miss. Set on a knoll,
a bank of trees hid the front of the house, but the blazing lights from the
open garage beckoned me. There was no car in the garage. Instead, lined
up in orderly rows were tables filled with canned food, bags of bread,
packages of diapers, laundry detergent, everything needed to maintain a home.
A craggy, nondescript gentleman greeted me with a minimum of verbiage.
Not much different than our phone conversation! "Look around. If you see
what you want, help yourself." He handed me paper bags and turned away
to another bewildered new arrival, passing along the same message.
This couldn't be real!
I guiltily filled the paper sacks with what we absolutely needed and gratefully
thanked the elderly man. "Be here next week. You'll run out by then," was his reply.
My head was spinning. I had three bags of groceries given to me FREE by
someone I had never met before, and he had told me to return for more.
Who in his right mind did such a thing? Well, it seems that this Angel of
Mercy, Ziggy, did. Widowed and retired, he wanted to do something worthwhile
in his golden years to fill his time. Daily he drove his pickup truck and begged
for usable items and canned goods from local grocery stores. He delivered most
of the booty to the shelters and food banks. What was left over, he stocked in
his garage, sought out folks like us who had fallen on hard times, and gave it away.
I never knew what our weekly menus would be until the boys and I had
"shopped" in Ziggy's garage. We ate canned ham, stew, oatmeal, or corn
99 different ways, feasting like royalty. With our bellies full, we could focus
on paying necessary bills with what little money we had. A major stress
had been lifted that winter until my husband did find a job.
Once in a while I stop in front of that house where Ziggy used to live. The
garage is gone, but I can still hear that little man saying, "Look around.help
yourself." Yes, Ziggy, I did look around. I saw a gentle spirit who gave what
he could to a young mother and her family that needed a boost. Then I helped
myself to what I wanted: a renewed belief in the kindness of strangers and
gratitude for hope which had been dimmed. You fed our bodies and our souls
and the world is a richer place because of you.
Irene Budzynski, R.N.Irene_budd@yahoo.com
Write to Irene and let her know your thoughts on her story!______________________________________
A nurse in Connecticut, Irene's stories have been published in Heart Touchers,
Heartwarmers, Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and have been heard on NightSounds radio.