Paying It Forward
by Angi Morgan
BEFORE YOU READ THE REST... I didn't share this story for self glorification. It was more of a realization on my part because I haven't shared this with many people before. I hope to inspire and encourage...
I woke up this past Monday to a phone call from my mom. She asked if one of her friends could come stay in my guest room for a month until her apartment was ready. The answer was, "of course." And when I spoke to my husband later that afternoon, he repeated the same words. There was no 'but' or any other exception attached. We never thought twice. She will be welcome as long as she needs a room.
My mother's friend won't be the first to stay with us. We've done this with teenagers who would have been on the street after arguments with their families. Young adults who were between jobs or apartments. We had softball girls spend the night once a week so they could play ball, we've had band students stay for extended periods of time. We volunteered for our kids. We drove kids home, feed them before football games.
But this week, my mother's friend asked me why. I think she's the first one who ever has.
So why do we open our home and hearts? Well...it turns out that's a pretty short story after all. Back in my early twenties I was a single mom on a very limited budget. The year I turned 24, I held 11 different jobs trying to make ends meet (some at the same time). My car was side-swiped and totaled. Several times I took my two children to the night job I had cleaning offices. There was a short time-when the car wouldn't start and I pulled them in a wagon from my apartment to the job (more than three miles each way and yeah, it was dark). Several times my pantry was empty except for the food my children needed to eat.
My goodness, that sounds so depressing and...fictional.
It wasn't. It was just making it through a rough period. I had support. I had friends. It was my car not starting at the last minute (before cell phones so no one was home). It was ME not asking my parents for more help. (By the way, there was always plenty to eat at their house...I wasn't going to starve, my children didn't suffer like others.) My dad always bought my kids new shoes and their bicycles. It was just something he always took care of. But over that rough year, there was more than one anonymous gift to me and my kids. No one ever admitted to the $100 bill slipped under my door. No one ever admitted to leaving sacks of groceries. They let me keep my pride and without knowing it or ever saying it aloud, I sort of made a vow.
I wanted to give back. I would always help if I could.
Whoever gave me that $100.00 definitely Paid it Forward. They may have never known that they gave me hope to keep going through the next job...and the next crisis... They kept me going until I landed a job at North Texas State University. A job with a boss who encouraged me to go back to school where I finished my degree. A boss who took the time to talk to me as a person. A boss who stood up for me at my wedding to a wonderful man. The man who always says, "of course" and told me to follow my dream of writing (another story for another time).
I am so grateful for the life --and all the experiences-- I've been given. I hope I'm always able to give back.