All light and hope was lost for Derek, who became homeless soon after his beloved wife died. When he noticed another lost soul, he acted in kindness, not knowing that a life-changing surprise would await him a day later.
Derek wasn’t always the tired homeless man begging on the street across the busy cafe.
His life had always been hard, but until a few months ago, there was still something worth living for. Clarice, the love and light of his life, was still alive…
The couple had been married for barely a year, and they made their paradise inside an old trailer behind the neighborhood park. They’d often look outside, gazing at people walking by, imagining the fascinating fictional life stories of those strangers…in their minds, Derek and Clarice had lived a thousand vivid lives together, filled with luxury, love, and laughter.
All that changed when Clarice got diagnosed with cancer. There was only a small chance that it could still be contained with treatment, only a sliver of hope.
And that was all Derek needed. He sold everything in his house worth selling, borrowed from every friend, and picked up every odd job he could, all in an effort to raise enough money for his beloved wife’s treatment.
When he was still running short of funds, Derek sold the last thing he could: the trailer that he and Clarice had called home.
“Your love and kindness will come back to you tenfold!”
“We can always build another home together,” Derek told himself and happily slept in waiting rooms and cafeterias while his wife underwent treatment at the hospital.
He had done his part, but fate didn’t. Even after the expensive treatment, Clarice’s condition kept worsening; her laughter became rarer and rarer, and her eyes opened lesser and lesser. Until one day, they didn’t open at all…
Derek was with her in those last few moments, her head rested on his chest, and he could feel the pull of her last fading breath.
Everything warm and beautiful had died along with Clarice. There was no love left in the world, no kindness, and no home.
Without a roof over his head, Derek began living on the street. He still tried to find work, but he found himself struggling in a cold world, and he was lucky if he found a one-off job or two a week.
The past few weeks had been unlucky in that sense. Derek only had $12 left, and he would have to make do with it for the rest of the month somehow.
It was a little past noon, and Derek was getting ready to finally get up from his spot and buy a sandwich from the cafe.
“A grilled chicken sandwich with extra cheese,” Derek decided as he crossed the road to get to the cafe. It was Clarice’s favorite kind of sandwich, and the thought of her made Derek’s heart sink again.
“I’m the most pathetic, alone, and helpless man in the city,” Derek thought until he saw something that changed his mind.
An elderly woman was standing outside the cafe, sighing over the scattered mess of coins and belongings that had fallen out of her old purse. She bent to pick up the coins, lost her balance, and collapsed onto the ground, shrieking in pain.
And while the woman was struggling to get back to her feet, people passed her by without even slowing down, like she was invisible.
“What has this world come to?” Derek thought to himself as he rushed to the older woman and offered his hand.
“Oh, thank you, son!” the woman gripped Derek’s hands and didn’t let go until she sat in one of the patio chairs.
“Oh please, ma’am, anybody could’ve helped you. Anyone with a heart, that is.”
Derek smiled at the woman and turned to look piercingly at a group of young indifferent onlookers.
“So, you’re alright, ma’am? Let me call you a waiter to take your order–”
“Wait! I don’t think I have enough money to buy something… I have somewhere important to be, and I was in such a hurry this morning that I forgot to eat or even carry my wallet with me. All I’ve got is a few cents and a really long day ahead of me! Oh, I’m so stupid and forgetful! My Bob would’ve remembered to carry my wallet for me… ” The woman’s voice trembled with emotion.
The grief in the woman’s voice was too heavy for Derek to ignore. He knew that pain. The pain of losing the love of your life.
“That’s okay,” he told her. “Here, take this.”
The onlookers watched as they saw the homeless man open a tied-up handkerchief and hand over a few notes of cash to the older woman.
“This will get you breakfast. There’s only $12 in here,” Derek said and turned to leave, not desiring any sign of gratitude from the poor woman.
“Oh, thank you, son!” Frieda gasped, feeling ashamed and grateful at the same time. “If it’s not too much to ask, would you please eat with me? Keep lonely old me company for a few minutes?”
Derek reluctantly agreed to the woman’s request and took a seat. While Frieda had a humble breakfast, the two strangers instantly connected over the pain in each other’s eyes and spoke about the people whom they had loved and lost.
Derek got emotional hearing how Frieda and her husband Bob had been married for 59 years before an illness took him away, leaving her alone and lost.
And Frieda was heartbroken to learn about Clarice and what had become of Derek after her. “I wish I could change this kind man’s life right this second!” she thought to herself.
But the most she could do that day was exchange phone numbers with him.
“Call me whenever you need someone to talk to, son,” she said as they parted. “And don’t worry, your love and kindness will come back to you tenfold!”
Derek smiled at the 82-year-old woman’s quote and walked back to his spot. He has seen too much suffering to hope for any love or kindness to grace his life ever again.
And yet, there it was, the fruit of his kindness, buzzing on his old phone the very next morning.
Derek was surprised to see a notification from the older woman he had met the day before. And when he opened the message she had sent him, he thought it was some kind of a mistake.
“Meet me at the park this evening. Your reward arrives today,” it read.
Although Derek assumed it was a text meant for someone else, a part of him wanted to go to the park. That little voice in his head was hard to ignore, so he reached the park later that day, not knowing what to expect.
As Derek walked around the place, he decided to visit the spot where his and Clarice’s trailer home used to be. That place had been empty since her passing, and that emptiness always broke Derek’s heart.
“What’s that, though? Another trailer?” Derek was surprised.
Following his impulse, he approached the trailer, and it looked brand new. The paint smelled fresh, the doors were squeaky clean, and a peek from the window revealed it was rather spacious inside.
It looked fine until Derek saw the name on the other side of the trailer. The name meant everything to him.
Hand-painted in bright blue letters were the words “Clarice’s Paradise.”
Derek fell onto his knees in shock and couldn’t tell if any of it was real. That’s when he spotted a note tucked under a wheel of the trailer.
She would’ve wanted you to be happy. She would’ve wanted you to have a home…
I hope this serves as a good one. Thank you for your kindness, son.
For the first time in years, the wall Derek had built around his heart came crumbling down, and he cried.
He would soon learn that Frieda was a lonely but well-off woman, and they would develop a friendship that would last a lifetime.
What can we learn from this story?
Grief connects people in the deepest ways. Derek and Frieda were lonely, but they recognized each other’s grief, and they ended up becoming friends for life.
You don’t have to have a lot to be kind. Derek was a beggar who had only a few dollars left, but he chose to be kind to the elderly woman who didn’t have money to pay for food.
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.
If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about another kind man who lived on the streets and made a big sacrifice to save a dying little girl.
This piece is inspired by stories from the everyday lives of our readers and written by a professional writer. Any resemblance to actual names or locations is purely coincidental. All images are for illustration purposes only.