At a church meeting I attended this summer the topic was “You can change the world.” The first reaction of a number of ladies was disbelief, and disgust.
“I can’t do that, it’s impossible,” “That sounds hokey!” “That’s ridiculous!” were a few of the comments.
But, these words resonated with me differently. It brought memories of situations when I needed help and someone helped me. Some were strangers, others acquaintances, while others were people I knew well.
The ones that affect me the most are acts of kindness I’ve received from strangers. In many ways they’re more significant, because they didn’t help me because they loved me. They helped me because that’s where their hearts are.
I remembered a few occasions when all I needed was a little help to accomplish something bigger. The first one that came to mind involves two good Samaritans. Perhaps it’s not the best example because they went above and beyond random acts of kindness. But together they bridged the gap between happiness and sorrow when they helped me reunite with my estranged sister.
On a trip from Burnaby to Edmonton to visit my sister who days before was diagnosed with Stage 4 Cancer my teenage daughter and I stopped briefly at a gas station in Salmon Arm to freshen up and grab a few snacks for the rest of our journey.
We left Burnaby early in the morning but we weren’t driving the entire way, we were going to have a one night lay over in Calgary with my oldest daughter.
After we got about 20 kilometers on the highway heading towards Golden, the car started chugging. Fighting for it’s life it heaved forward, decelerated three or four times until it stopped. Guiding it to the right as it took it’s last breath she settled on the side of the road, out of the way of traffic.
I had AMA so I called and then we waited patiently for it to arrive. I thought about how this situation would turn out. With slight anxiety I decided not to go into panic mode until I had the details of our predicament.
I had a limited budget. It was enough to get us where we were going and take care of our needs while we were in Alberta; but there wasn’t much room to cover the cost of a mechanic.
Minutes after getting into the AMA tow truck, the kind gentleman (an Albertan) finished loading my little GEO Metro, and asked us about our story – because he sensed our disappointment.
Upon hearing our mission to get to my sister he told me he knew the perfect mechanic to look at my car.
He pointed out it was out of the allotted kilometer range, but said he would take us there anyways. The mechanic was retired but still worked on Metros, which also happened to be his specialty.
Instantly a calmness came over me burying the anxiety that was trying to take over.
After we arrived at his home the kindly older gentleman spoke briefly with the AMA driver; and then came over to us – and I’ll never forget what he said.
Not only would he look at my vehicle, he reassured me with boldness that he could fix it.
But then he went a little further. He said he would see if he could get the parts and fix it that day, so we could still make it to Calgary without traveling in the middle of the night – it hinged on whether he could get the parts.
After speaking with his sweet wife he told me if he couldn’t get the parts we could sleep in the small, quaint room in the basement; complete with a bathroom and kitchenette. He reassured us that if the parts weren’t available that day, he would make sure he got them on the morrow.
That’s not all he did though. He also told me to take their car and go into Salmon Arm to take advantage of the beautiful day and not worry about the car – he had it covered.
They hoped the excursion would put my daughters mind at rest. The events of the day obviously showed on her face. She was anxiously awaiting the chance to reunite with her sister too.
It was months since they had seen each other and her thoughts were focused on this meeting – and you know how tweens are.
My worst fear was similar. My heart sank when I thought of the possibility of having to tell my sister, who I hadn’t seen in a few years that we wouldn’t make it.
When I rehearsed the conversation in my mind having to tell my sister I wouldn’t be able to comfort her when she needed me the most, my tummy rumbled, and shoulders stiffened.
With everything else in place the last hurdle in my obstacle course – the deciding factor of whether I’d win, or not was the quote.
With my hands clenched and my breaths slow I struggled to keep my heart from coming into my throat as I waited for it.
Hearing his quote of $600.00 (maximum) I felt a slight twinge – a mixture of relief and fear. But when he said I could make two payments – half then and the rest the following month. I let out a sigh and smiled.
With light hearts my daughter and I drove into Salmon Arm, went to the mall and had an amazing time. With the shadows of doubt removed we transformed into tourists, soaking up the Okanagan hospitality. Together they had changed the world – for us.
So how did it turn out you ask? Well, the parts were in, and he immediately started changing out my transmission – within hours the GEO was whole again.
After hugs and many thanks we were back on the road and made it safely to Calgary; and then Edmonton the next day for a joyous reunion with my sister.
It’s hard for them to know how they changed the course of the future.
In answer to the question Can you Change the World? You bet you can, and you already do. You don’t have to go above and beyond as the mechanic did, even just simply going out of your way a few kilometers can change someone’s world. If you get a group of people together, or even one person to work with you to change the world an hour a week, just think how much brighter your world will be too.
Paying it forward is something we all do, but some are more expert at it than others. Tracy Cook is a prime example.
Meet Tracy Cook – The King of Paying it Forward
Tracy Cook can change the world. He’s offered hundreds of hours of his time and energy to helping others. From shaping young characters with Scouts Canada to people in the inner city of Edmonton battling addictions, to emotionally supporting and offering advice to other paraplegics as they leave they Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital to go back home to their new lives.
Meet Tracy and read his story.