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The April Christmas Gift - a True Story

Updated on December 19, 2013

This Christmas, remember April!

Vintage Christmas card.
Vintage Christmas card. | Source

Michelle hastily planned her morning.

A week before Christmas, Michelle woke up with a headache from a sinus infection that had inflicted her days before. Between getting the children ready for school that morning, writing a school note to excuse her daughter for a sick day taken the day before, and serving breakfast to the household, Michelle found herself with little time to shower and dress in warm attire for the cold day ahead.

Later in the afternoon, she would be due at an appointment one town over. She didn't like driving to that town, especially in snowy weather. Traveling on the treacherous roads was dangerous. Michelle thought about cancelling her afternoon appointment. With selfish motive, she began dreaming up reasons why she couldn't make it. Michelle finally put the thought to rest. She finished tying her sneakers.

The children were bundled in their coats, mittens, and hats, waiting at the door patiently for Michelle's permission to go to the car. Michelle hurriedly put on her own coat and gloves leaving her cell phone upstairs. She locked the door behind her. The car was parked at the bottom of a steep, icy driveway. The children were throwing snow at one another when a private plow truck drove by. Michelle was elated to recognize the driver as one of her favorite relatives. She drove the children to the small elementary school that had no bus service to her rural road.

Michelle dropped the children off at the snow-covered playground and headed down the main road in town to go to the small post office to mail her Christmas cards.

The line at the post office was short.

Michelle competitively raced out of her car and ran on the slick pavement to the front of the post office. She noticed two customers closely behind her as she reached for the door and saw no one in line.

She thought to herself that she didn't feel like holding the door today, when normally she would. She had alterior motives. Her children were back to school after illness and a snow day, and this was her day to do as she saw fit. She had no desire to use her time standing in line at the post office.

She went to the first available counter. The clerk was a friend. They chatted briefly and Michelle turned to leave. She noticed a young man coming through the door with a large box. It was another one of her friends. She was well-known in town. But today was different. Normally she wouldn't see one person, let alone several out and about on the same day.

She held the door for her friend Andrew. After exchanging hellos, Michelle started walking toward her car. An older woman of shorter stature asked Michelle, "do you think you can give me a ride to the train station? I have no money for the bus."

Michelle was in disbelief. Of all days, today, the one day of freedom she had planned by the hour, and someone asks her for a ride. And, the train station was located in the very town Michelle was trying to avoid that afternoon.

The ride.

Michelle held the car door open for the woman. She went around to the other side and placed her purse behind the seat. The woman had opened Michelle's door and began talking to Michelle.

At this time, Michelle thought to herself the things that you hear about on television that happens when a good samaritan is kind to a stranger. The bad thoughts circled Michelle's mind. She thought about Andrew. He was the last to see her leaving the post office. Surely, if something were to happen, Michelle thought Andrew would be able to identify the woman Michelle left with. Michelle also remembered she had forgotten her cell phone on her way out the door this morning.

Michelle so wanted to be wrong about all of those bad things she has heard time and time again on the television. While Michelle has her selfish moments, she also has a big heart. Especially for people who are in need.

The ride wasn't quiet. The woman told Michelle a lot of things. She was obviously very knowledgeable about computers and told Michelle how to search more efficiently by using quotations. She also told Michelle that Yahoo searches were better than Google.

The woman looked at Michelle and said, "My name is April."

April was much older. Silver curly hair, blue eyes, and glasses. She looked much like the caroler in this card.

Vintage Christmas card.
Vintage Christmas card. | Source

The apartment.

As the car approached the train station, April told Michelle that she had things at her apartment that she needed to get for the train ride. She told Michelle of the thoughtful gifts she had bought for her family in New York where she was headed to visit by train. April asked if Michelle minded stopping there first.

Michelle asked for directions to April's home. Upon arriving at the destination, Michelle was very surprised and kind of scared. The area where April lived was known for violence and crime. There were people walking around the street despite the six inches of snow covering sidewalks and curbs.

April said, "pull up right there. My apartment is in back."

Michelle pulled up to the curb in front of a gray colored house. April got out of the car and walked to the back before Michelle could follow her. Michelle turned off the car engine and opened the back of the trunk. While waiting for April to return, she could hear April in the distance saying that her stuff was in the hallway. While standing on the sidewalk, several people walked by Michelle and said hello. Despite feeling nervous in a crime-ridden part of town, the people were exceptionally friendly.

April returned with a large suitcase. Michelle was surprised at how easy April made it look to carry such a heavy suitcase. Placing it in the back of the car, April asked Michelle if she could return to the apartment to help her with the lighter items. Michelle retrieved her purse from behind the back seat and locked up the car.

April went on ahead up the two flights of narrow stairwells to her apartment and disappeared in to a hallway. Michelle noticed a black tarp on the ground near the basement, and a man slowly walked from the side of the building in front of Michelle carrying a hacksaw and two hammers.

Michelle wanted to run away in fear. She thought it was a trap. All of these things that she had heard about on the news that happen to good people when a stranger needs help surfaced again in her mind.

But at that moment, Michelle thought about the consquences of her own choice to help the woman. She didn't want to leave the woman out in the cold if by chance the man with the tools was just a coincidence.

Michelle walked up each small step. The steps were painted green and curved around a very tight hallway. Michelle felt scared. She could feel her feet slipping because the bottoms of her sneaker tread was covered in a thin layer of frozen snow.

She carefully made it to the top when April handed her two bags to carry back to the car.

To the train station.

Michelle locked the doors and turned up the heat to relieve April's frozen toes under her thin shoes.

Michelle's feet were also frozen and numb despite wearing a layer of socks and sneakers. She couldn't imagine how April's feet must have felt in nothing more than simple slip-on shoes.

As Michelle pulled away from the curb to drive toward the train station, she wanted to mention the man to April, but didn't want to say anything in a way to offend her.

April suddenly spoke about the man and said he was not a very nice man. He had not provided what he was supposed to in the rental agreement. April said she had no money and nowhere else to go. She was living on disability and had a lot of bills she couldn't pay. In fact, she was a widow. The wife of a veteran.

Michelle sympathized with April. April reminded her so much of someone else she knows.

April spoke again about how she has had issues in life. She has been labeled manic depressive, although she has genuis intelligence.

Michelle realized then that April reminded her of her own son with Autism. She looked at April's sweet demeanor and the longing in her eyes. Behind her glasses and silver hair, Michelle realized that she was a human being reaching out for help when there was no one there. Michelle asked April, "what would you have done had I not been at the post office?" To which April replied, "I would have had to walk or wait for a bus, and would have missed the train."

April went on to say that she would have had to walk to her apartment from the bus and back to the train station in the snow and freezing cold temperatures to catch a later train. The journey would have been an astonishing mile to mile and a half walk. It would have taken hours to walk those snowy-covered streets and sidewalks that had not been shoveled.

A safe trip.

Backing in to a free spot wasn't easy because of the large piles of snow covering the sides of the walkways. April's feet hurt more than ever at this point and wanted Michelle to park in front of the door. But there was a taxi there.

April got out of the car in a snowbank and took the large suitcase from the trunk. Once again, MIchelle was amazed at April's strength.

Michelle offered help, but April said she wanted to put her luggage in the the back row of the waiting room, and would be right back to get the remainder of the items.

Michelle waited by the open trunk. When April returned, she asked to carry everything except one thing. She gave Michelle a box to carry for her. It was a painting April said she picked up at a local library sale to give to her brother for Christmas.

As Michelle followed April in to the train station, April said Michelle could just stick the box anywhere so she wouldn't have to leave her car. Michelle insisted on bringing the box to April's other belongings. Her car was locked in a legal parking spot.

Michelle set the box on the floor as people waiting for the train looked on at the two of them. The waiting room was full. April repeatedly told Michelle that as soon as she got some money, she would send her some for gas. Michelle looked at April and said, "I don't want your money."

April said, "Merry Christmas" to Michelle. Michelle had not told April her name.

Michelle hugged April and said, "Have a safe trip April."

April looked at Michelle with kind eyes as she turned to leave the train station.

I highly recommend
The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen.

My grandfather's sister gave me this book when I was a child. I treasured this book as I do of my great-aunt's memory. She survived my grandfather by a few weeks and passed away at the age of 92, a week before Christmas 2013.

Would you help a total stranger on the street?

See results

The story of the Little Match Girl.

The Little Match Girl was first written in 1845 by Hans Christian Andersen.

The story is about a poor little girl trying to sell matches in the street. She is freezing terribly, but too afraid to go home to the stepfather who will beat her for not selling any matches.

She takes shelter in a nook and lights the matches to warm herself.

In the glow of the matches, she sees beautiful visions. As she lights the next match, she sees a vision of her grandmother, the only person to have treated her with love and kindness. She strikes one match after another to keep the vision of her grandmother alive for as long as she can.

After the light of the last match burns out, the little girl's grandmother carries her soul to Heaven. The next morning, passers-by find the childs body in the nook and take pity on her. They do not know about the visions she saw, or that she will not be cold or hungry any more in Heaven.

(I've often wondered why none of the passers-by stopped when they saw the child freezing.)

This Christmas, remember April!

I often preach about being a good samaritan. There is a lot of pretentiousness in society. What are words without action? People say, "I love you", but don't often treat someone like they love them. People say, "I'll pray for you", but don't offer help when someone is in need.

Many of us are often on the lookout for ways to help. From fundraising to bake sales, we reach out to help where we can. In this story, April called out for help. Fortunately, someone was there willing to help her.

When my grandfather passed away the day before Thanksgiving, the pastor he picked prior to his own funeral service was no one any of us had ever met. But he did a terrific job. He spoke about a personal story that really touched my heart.

He said he had a friend that owned a lamb. She gave birth. He wanted to see the newborn lambs. His friend invited him over. When he approached the barn, the mother lamb looked at the pastor as if to say, "stay away, I don't feel safe with you here." So the pastor didn't approach any closer. Then the owner walked in to the barn behind the pastor. The mother lamb relaxed. She looked at the pastor as if to say, "my shepherd is here now, so it's ok for you to be here."

The pastor said that those of us who practice Christian faith, should remember this. For when we are fearful, remember that God is always with us. "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?" Psalm 27:1.

Whenever you step out of your comfort zone, remember those words. Remember not everyone is bad or out to get you. If you feel there is opportunity to help someone in need, open your heart to them and do not be afraid.

This story is dedicated to my grandfather.

This story is dedicated to him for everything he was.

These are his last words.

"Let all my children, grandchildren and family members know that life is short, and it goes by quickly. Before you know it, you've reached the end of your trail. It's time to check out. We are all riding the same horse, headed down the same trail. Don't let the devil buck you off as you travel that trail. Ask the good Lord to save you before you take your last ride. Then it's too late."

Rest in Peace,

September 21, 1927 to November 27, 2013

A vintage Christmas card.
A vintage Christmas card. | Source

To all of you, Merry Christmas.

It takes courage to step out in faith when an opportunity arises to help a needy person.

It also takes bigger courage to ask for help.

April could have been any one of us. At any time, any one of us could face a situation where we need help and there is no one.

This Christmas, remember the biggest gifts are free. They don't come wrapped in shiny paper or cost a small fortune. True gifts are from the heart. Love one another. Encourage one another. Enjoy one another. Be kind to one another.

Remember to be the change that you want to see in the world to make it a better place for all.

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    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 3 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Such a warm story it brought tears to my eyes. We are all one under the Universe and no person is a stranger. We should love and help each other whenever possible.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Crafty - The tension building in this story as Michelle faced potential dangers, yet helped the older woman in spite of them, made it read like fiction. I was gratified to know that it is actually a true story.

      Also, this hub stands as a lovely tribute to your late grandfather. I am sorry for your loss. He was obviously a person who cared about his family and other people.

      I've been called a "sucker" more than once by people who know me for giving money or help to strangers who ask for it or seem to need it. Perhaps some of them were panhandlers who took advantage of me, but the chance that any one of them really needed help and I was able to give it cancels the others. I wouldn't want to miss helping that one person truly in need of assistance because I was afraid of being scammed.

      I would like to think that if I were stranded in a bad situation without resources or able to contact family or friends, some benevolent stranger would come to my rescue. Wouldn't you?

      Voted Up++

      Merry Christmas! May the new year bring you much happiness.

      Jaye

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
      Author

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Hi GM! It's so nice to see you here! (Hugs). Thank you so much for your kind comments.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
      Author

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Hi Jaye! Thanks so much for your comments here. My grandfather's obituary received so many comments from people all over the country. I don't know many of them, but they all said he was such a caring and generous man. He would have given someone the shirt off of his back if they were in need, yet he never asked for much himself. He was always concerned about others. He managed a plant with hundreds of employees, and never once treated anyone like he was superior.

      One year I helped with a food drive and someone made a point of telling me they thought I was only hurting myself. That I should save the energy and time for myself because I'll need it someday. It amazes me that there are people that think this way.

      I have been stranded on occasion when I had no car. I can honestly say, people would drive by and beep. Long time friends and relatives. But no one would offer help. I never asked for any either. But it gave me the understanding to know how it feels to be in someone else's shoes.

      Merry Christmas to you too!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      This is wonderful! The story is great and grips us from the beginning, it's so vivid. The message it carries is so important. Your grandfather also sounds as though he was a good, wise man.

      Thank you for this story at this time; inspiration to us all. It is the season of goodwill to all and it should stay that way throughout the year.

      A very merry Christmas to you too and a happy new year. Ann

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Beautiful storey and reminder to all to entertain strangers for we may be entertaining angels unaware. I love serving the homeless or downtrodden around the building in which I work in the city. The Holy Spirit would always let me know whether to just keep on driving. The Lord always protected me and I was never afraid. I always received a blessing helping others less fortunate. One must use discernment. Up and more and sharing. Blessings, Faith Reaper

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Crafty, this is an awesome story with an awesome message. I'm sharing on the H.O.W page. Tell me, are you Michelle?

      Merry Christmas, sweetie.

      Love,

      Sha

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Brandi, there are so many wonderful messages here that I can't single out just one. Just a beautiful holiday potpourri of lessons for all to learn. Random acts of kindness....be the change we want to see....oh my friend, you are speaking my language. I'll share this on the H.O.W. Facebook page and hopefully others will learn from it.

      blessings always

      bill

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 3 years ago from Alabama

      Strength and blessings for you and yours.

      I am sharing this.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      What a beautiful story for this time of year. The message was a fitting tribute to your grandfather. You should really consider delving into fiction writing, based on your own unique experiences. You are a good writer with a message to share.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      A very beautiful and touching story, God bless you for it and have a very Merry Christmas.

    • dilipchandra12 profile image

      Dilip Chandra 3 years ago from India

      Good read, thank you for sharing.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      The April Christmas Gift - a True Story touched me deeply you so wonderfully addressed this story. It is such a great story for the Holidays to make us think of everyone else and not just for ourselves. Shared, voted up, and useful.

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 3 years ago

      This story was warm and loving, it really hit home. It rates #1 in my books.

      I am so sorry about your grandfather again. (hugs)

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is a lovely story and a very touching hub. It's a great reminder of the needs of others and a wonderful way to encourage us to be kind. Thank you, Crafty.

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 3 years ago

      this was a beautiful story indeed that really helps to capture your heart. this story has been shared with others. Happy Holidays.

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Beautiful story and well written!

      I agree with you that the best gifts don't come wrapped in shiny paper or cost a small fortune! The best gift are the gift of time from someone else. Lately, I accompany a 87 years old friend of mine to medical appointment. The best gift for me is to see her getting better and her appreciation :-)

      It seems unfortunately that too often we are too busy running around and we don't see people in need. If we would all care even just a little bit more we would have a better society!

      Enjoy your weekend!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

      Beautiful and so many true, good points.

      I once picked up a hitchhiker then started to think all the thoughts Michelle was thinking. By the time I got him to his destination I was a nervous wreck but everything worked out fine.

      Merry Christmas.

      Voted up and awesome.

    • klidstone1970 profile image

      இڿڰۣ-- кιмвєяℓєу 3 years ago from Niagara Region, Canada

      This restores my faith in humanity as time and again we hear about the good in people. Very nicely done. Thank you and Merry Christmas.

      Kim

    • mylindaelliott profile image

      mylindaelliott 3 years ago from Louisiana

      What a lovely story and a great reminder for Christmas.

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

      This was such a beautiful story. Great job here.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      What beautiful encouragement this time of year. I pray that I take this spirit of selflessness with me into the New Year. Thank you, Crafty.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
      Author

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Hi Ann! Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. I appreciate them very much. Happy New Year to you too!

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
      Author

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Hi Faith! Thanks so much for your lovely comments. I too worked in a city before I became a mom. It used to be the homeless population was larger out that way than around these rural parts. But not so any more. It's a sad situation. We are now seeing people with their pets panhandling on busy intersection street corners.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Hi Sha! You read me like a book! LOL :D

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Hi Billy! Thank you so much for your kind comments.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Hi Wetnose! Thank you as always for your kind words.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Flourish, thank you so much for your comments. I am honored by your compliments.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
      Author

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Hi Jackie! Thank you! And many blessings for the coming new year.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Hi dilipchandra! Thank you so much for stopping by. It's nice to see you.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Hi DDE! Thanks so much for your inspiring comments.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
      Author

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Hello Examiner! I get so happy when I see the little chickadee bird in your profile pic. It's one of my favorite birds. Thank you for your comments.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Hi Alicia! Thank you! I truly appreciate your warm comments.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
      Author

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Hi Torrilynn! Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. It's nice to see you! Here's to a Happy New Year!

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 3 years ago

      Crafty,

      Thanks. :-) It used to make me so happy too when I watched it at my feeders, or just anywhere in my yard. That was in NJ.

      It still because now I see the Carolina Chickadee, which looks very close.

      Kevin

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
      Author

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Hi Kidscrafts! That's so kind of you to help out. We have a huge elderly population here in this town. Unfortunately, not all towns have the same ideas. Like here, we have a huge network of resources for the elderly. There is a shuttle which will take the elderly citizens to appointments or downtown shopping. But, one town over, there are no resources at all...not even a senior center. There are many people that are shut ins that need help or support from volunteers such as home food delivery programs and rides to appointments. There's just not enough resources to go around. That's why I think it's important for people to step up and volunteer when they can. Volunteers truly do make a difference.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
      Author

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Hi Tillsontitan! Thank you for sharing your story here too. I know, the things that go through our minds when we reach out to help strangers. I try not to watch the news any more for that reason. So many bad things. Rarely are good stories shared.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Hi Kim! It's so nice of you to stop by. Thank you for your kind comments. Happy New Year!

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Hi Linda! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Hi WiccanSage! Thank you so much for your nice comments.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Hi MsDora! You definitely are one of the most selfless people I know! Thank you for commenting here.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Kevin, I live in CT. We used to have tons of birds here. We had nuthatches, golden finches, Eastern bluebirds, cardinals, several variety of woodpeckers, chickadees, titmouse, and others, but not so much now. This past summer I put out the finch feeders like always, and we didn't see one gold finch. I was so saddened. I don't know what's happened to them.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      And today I am made better by you. e

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Hi Eric! Thank you for stopping by and commenting. :D

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 3 years ago

      Crafty,

      The goldfinches seem to have had a lot of people confused because of that. The reason is that they come and go in 'groups'. After one group leaves, it may take only a little while or a long while for the next group to come. The weather also plays a part in it. Even though they are practically a year-round bird.

      Kevin

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
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      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Hi Kevin! I did notice that the gold finches would come in large groups. One time I counted 20 on the same finch feeder. I sure do hope they come back this year. :D

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 3 years ago

      I think that they will. Just keep seeds in the feeder. Maybe only quarter full until any g-finch show up so that the seeds do not go to waste. You cannot leave them in there too long because they go stale. Especially when the weather gets warmer.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
      Author

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      That's a good point. I empty the seeds at the end of the season and wash out the feeders, but I normally do fill it way up. I never thought about the seeds going stale. Thanks for the suggestion.

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 3 years ago

      You are welcome. That is one way in which diseases start to build up, that is why I mentioned it. Besides saving money on your seeds.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Beautiful story and so well written. Very impressive work.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
      Author

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Hi WillStarr! Thanks so much! That's truly an honor my friend.

    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 3 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      I kept wondering what was going to happen next in this story....it sounded like Michelle was going to have something bad happen. But happily, the ending went well! The other stories were also appropriate. Voted interesting.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
      Author

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Hi Suzanne! I know, it's sad that as a society we are always distrusting of others. But bad news seems to be in the forefront on the news all the time. At least this situation ended happily! Thanks so much for commenting here.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago from Texas

      Brandi this is really heart warming. I half expected to have Michelle scammed in some way. I am so glad it was a happy ending. And I just read about a doctor right here in the hospital my son, my husband and one of my friends was in, and the terrible things the doctor did.

      Thank you for such an interesting read.

      Voted up UABI, and shared.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image
      Author

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Hi Shyron. Thanks so much for commenting here. I was just thinking the other day how we've grown so cautious in society to the point that kindness is mistaken for weirdness.

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