A widowed mother who recently moved into a new home with her son follows him to the basement one night and discovers something shocking. Her son was giving his teddy bear to an unknown man. How did the man get there in the first place?
Heidi moved into a small house with her son Eric after losing her beloved husband Adam to cancer three years ago. She had to sell their old house because she was struggling to make ends meet after Adam’s death and her job wasn’t enough to cover their expenses.
Most of the time, the bills were piling up every month, especially since Eric had moved to a new school. The poor child struggled just as much as Heidi, as he had no friends at school and longed for Adam.
One day, his teacher, Mr. Copper, was teaching his class about the “chain of kindness.”
“So, children,” Mr. Cooper explained. “What a chain of kindness basically means is that you help someone in need and then ask that person to help another person… So you pay the kindness forward by assisting the next person, and it becomes a chain!”
That same day, Eric was on his way home when he noticed a homeless man by the park. Exhausted and shivering in the cold, the poor man was lying on a piece of cardboard, imploring passers-by for food and money, but no one paid him any attention. Eric remembered what Mr. Copper had just taught them in school and decided to help the man.
“Hello, sir,” he said, approaching him. “I can see you’re cold and hungry. Please come with me. I will help you. You can live in my house and I can get you food.”
The homeless man, Dexter, looked up at Eric and smiled, “Oh, that’s very thoughtful of you, little boy. But your parents won’t appreciate a homeless man in their home. Nobody does!”
“Shhh,” Eric said. “It’s a secret between us. Mom shouldn’t know about it. Mom works all the time, and she won’t notice that you’re living in our house. You can hide in our basement!” he proposed.
Dexter knew it was wrong, very wrong, but he hadn’t eaten in days and was on the brink of collapsing anytime soon. So he accepted Eric’s offer. “Many thanks, young man. You are really generous,” he said.
“You don’t need to thank me,” Eric said, extending his hand to Dexter. “Pay it forward by helping someone else the next time.”
“Oh, absolutely! You’re so wise!” Dexter sighed and grasped Eric’s hand as the two walked to Eric’s house.
Every person we encounter in life has a special role to play.
Once there, Eric showed Dexter the way to the basement and brought him some snacks from the kitchen. “Mom will be home soon. She comes home during lunch and we eat together, so please be quiet. After she leaves, our neighbor, Mrs. Murphy, will come to look after me but don’t worry, I will come to see you soon!”
Dexter nodded and walked into the basement. He laid down on an old mattress and dozed off. He hadn’t slept so peacefully in ages.
Sometime late that night, Heidi woke up because she was feeling thirsty. She went to fetch some water in the kitchen and was surprised to hear muffled sounds from somewhere in the house.
“Is it coming from our basement?” she thought as she walked from the kitchen to their basement. Suddenly, she noticed the basement door was open and she saw Eric descending the stairs.
She followed him down the stairs to the basement. Then she saw her son giving his teddy bear to a stranger and she panicked!
“Good Lord! Who the hell are you? Stay away from my son!” she yelled and sprang towards Eric, yanking him away from the unknown man. “Stay right there and don’t move! I’m going to call the cops right now!”
At that point, Eric spoke up. “Mom! No, wait! He’s Dexter! He needed food and a place to sleep, so I brought him here!”
“What?” Heidi stared at Eric, dumbfounded. “Did you bring someone from the streets into our home? Are you out of your mind, Eric? What if he tried to hurt us?”
“He wouldn’t, mom. Dexter is a nice man!” Eric assured. “See, that’s why I didn’t tell you he was staying here! I knew you’d be mad at me. I came here to give him my teddy. When we first moved here, I was scared to sleep alone, but with my teddy, I didn’t feel alone. I just didn’t want Dexter to be scared….”
Heidi sighed in frustration. “Honey, you don’t understand. We can’t bring strangers home like this!”
“But Dexter is no stranger, mom! Please! Let him stay here! Please! Please!!” Eric pleaded. He also told her what he’d learned about helping someone in need at school.
Heidi couldn’t decide whether or not to let Dexter stay. But then Dexter apologized and informed her about his awful health and how he would have fainted if Eric hadn’t helped him.
In the end, Heidi’s heart melted. She allowed Dexter to sleep in their guest room, and the following day, he took a shower and had breakfast with her and Eric. She gave him Adam’s old clothes to wear.
While eating breakfast, Dexter shared he was looking for a job. He was an artist who became homeless after his art gallery failed. That’s when Heidi suggested he apply for teaching positions at the school.
“There are so many schools that hire art teachers! You could give it a shot! And…” she paused. “You can stay here until you get a job. I guess that shouldn’t be an issue provided you help me around the house….”
“Really? Thanks!” Dexter said. “I don’t know how I’ll repay you, though. I’ve got nothing with me!”
“How about getting back on your feet? I’d consider that as my repayment!” Heidi replied with a smile.
And so it happened that after a month of trying, Dexter landed a job as an illustrator at a publishing agency and he managed to rent a small apartment.
One day, an old lady came to his workplace, looking for an illustrator. Dexter was willing to work for her, but she didn’t have enough money to compensate him. At that point, Dexter recalled Eric’s advice about repaying kindness.
So Dexter drew illustrations at a discount for her, and she couldn’t stop praising him. He told her, “Pay it forward by helping someone, ma’am.”
Meanwhile, Heidi and Dexter became good friends over time, and Eric now had someone to play video games and watch baseball games with, things he yearned for after Adam passed away.
Six months down the line, things progressed even further. Dexter proposed marriage to Heidi and she said yes! It turns out they had both fallen for each other but neither wanted to make the first move, fearing rejection.
Fortunately, Dexter found the courage to man up and he was not disappointed. The couple got married and are expecting twins.
What can we learn from this story?
- Let us repay the kindness we receive by helping someone in need and asking them to do the same. Eric helped Dexter when he saw him on the streets, and Dexter returned the favor by working at a discounted rate for an older woman in need of an illustrator.
- Every person we encounter in life has a special role to play. Eric and Heidi met Dexter because they were fated to have him in their lives, not as a mere acquaintance, but as family.