When her eight-year-old son brought home a ragged-looking man, Meredith was angry and confused. But when the man finally showed his face, she was shocked at the old chapter of her life that had suddenly reopened.
“I hope she’s in a good mood!” Mike thought nervously as he hesitated to ring the doorbell, knowing his mother would answer quickly.
Whether it was a weekend or a weekday, Meredith didn’t have a single free moment – as a mother of two rambunctious toddlers, that’s just the way it is. As a single mom, she was deliberately strict with her 8-year-old Mike and 2-year-old Marty. She wanted to raise them to be tough – not afraid to be kind, but tough enough to stand up to the tyrants of this world.
She wished her parents had taught her that. It would have prepared her for the menacing boys and girls who teased and bullied her in high school. And it would definitely have helped her get back on her feet faster after her husband left her and the boys for his secretary.
Meredith still winced when she thought about the days and nights she cried over that man, and years before that, over the one boy at school who snatched her lunch every day and berated her for being a ‘chubby ” was a child.
“Not my kids. They know how to stand up to bullies,” Meredith sighed with satisfaction and pride, removing her apron to finally put her feet up and relax for a few minutes before getting back to work.
“Is that really you? My goodness, what happened?”
Mike wasn’t due back from school for half an hour, and little Marty was sound asleep in his crib after a hearty meal. This was the perfect time for Meredith to take a quick nap. “Just for a few minutes,” she promised herself.
But when the doorbell woke her up again, it was already getting dark and overcast. Instinctively she checked the time and saw that her son Mike was at the door an hour later than usual.
“I hope he has a good excuse!” Meredith frowned as she opened the door, ready to stare at her mischievous little boy.
But scared little Mike wasn’t alone. Bent behind him was a ragged man wrapped in an old, tattered blanket that should have been washed months ago.
“Hey, you! Get off my property!” Meredith leaped forward and pointed the stranger to the street outside the gate.
But before Meredith could take another step, a small hand stopped her.
“Mom, wait! I brought him here. And I have to ask you something,” Mike managed to get over his fear of his mother’s reaction.
Meredith cocked her head suspiciously, but she let her son do the talking.
“Mom, can this poor man stay with us? Please? Just for a few days?” the boy asked with folded hands and puppy eyes.
Meredith was more clueless than angry. “Why did my son drag a tramp onto our porch? What’s going on here?” she wondered.
“Mike, you have about two minutes to explain to me what’s going on here. And YOU!” Meredith turned to the homeless man and warned him, “Don’t move!”
Meredith tearfully listened as her son told her about the poor man he’d befriended over half a sandwich.
“I saw him one day near the bus stop. I was crying because someone in class was teasing me when this man spoke to me and made me laugh. And then I realized he was really hungry. So I gave up gave him half of my sandwich. He was so thankful he cried mom!”
Meredith listened in awe as her son confessed that since then he has given this man half his lunch every day. “He listens to all my stories from school and he has pretty interesting stories too. But right now he has a terrible fever. I tried to touch his forehead and my hand almost burned! He needs a home, Mom. Please, can he stay here until he’s better? I won’t ask you for anything else…not even on Christmas!”
“Let me talk to the man. You stay inside, Mike,” Meredith said sternly, walking over to the man still standing on her porch.
Mike wiped away tears and tried to put his ear to the door, hoping to hear what was going on outside. The boy knew his mother would probably yell at him for what he had done, but he hoped she would somehow let his friend stay.
Meredith was only outside a few seconds when Mike cautiously opened the door to take a look outside.
And what the little boy heard made his little heart beat faster.
“Why are you hiding your face? Are you on the run from the police or something?” Meredith asked the man who seemed to be sobbing under the covers.
“I shouldn’t have come. I didn’t know! I don’t want you to see me like this, Meredith!” the man said, reluctantly showing his face to the woman.
For a moment, Meredith was shocked that a homeless man knew her name. But when she saw his face, she realized that he was no stranger.
“David!” Meredith gasped and recognized the face that had always haunted her. It was the same boy who stole her food and verbally abused her when she was a little girl.
“Is that really you? My goodness, what happened?” Meredith turned to her former classmate to make sure it wasn’t a dream.
David tried to control the tremors in his body and hold back his tears as he told Meredith the heartbreaking story of his life.
David became a troublemaker at school shortly after his father abandoned him and his mother when he was only 12 years old. He misbehaved at school and his reputation hampered his advancement as he did poorly in college and later had a difficult time building a career.
“I was struggling to make ends meet. And just when life got a little bit better, just when I married an incredible woman and had a wonderful boy by her, life ripped that away from me too! An accident.. .and they were both gone!
“My boy… he was only 4 months old, Meredith!” David cried in a hoarse voice and revealed that his life has been on a downward spiral ever since and he has been living on the streets for a year.
“My life…is over!” the man said, finally giving in to the fit of coughing that had been itching in his throat.
Mike was right. David was on fire. She got the car and drove to the hospital with David and Mike while asking a nice neighbor to babysit their two year old.
At the hospital, Mike wouldn’t leave David’s side, and David hoped Meredith would stay a little longer, too
“I have a lot to apologize to you for, Meredith. And congratulations on raising this incredible boy, too!” said David and ruffled Mike’s hair.”
In the days that followed, David’s health improved. His heart was better too, as he was finally able to shake off the guilt he’d been carrying for years. Meredith was also able to finish it. But after all, there was more than just a degree..
A week after meeting Meredith, David was released from the hospital and he didn’t waste a minute cleaning up his life. He applied for another job, and this time, the perfect opportunity presented itself easily.
The day he earned his first big salary, he showed up at Meredith’s door again with 100 red roses. “Thank you for giving me another reason to live!” he said kissing her on the back of the hand like a gentleman.
Meredith blushed and couldn’t take her eyes off David’s new, transformed self. This time the man looked younger and happier, and there was a hint in his eyes that he’d fallen in love again.
What can we learn from this story?
In a world full of tyrants and indifferent people, have a good heart. Meredith had gone through the trauma of being bullied and teased, but instead of being bitter, she chose to be kind and raised a kind-hearted boy.
Life often brings you closure in the strangest of ways. When Meredith least expected it, she broke up with the boy who had bothered her the most growing up.
Share this story with your friends. Maybe it will brighten your day and inspire you.