When Diana realized that the sweet child who offered up his seat for her had only one leg, she wanted to know everything about the boy’s life story. What she learned moved her to follow her heart and make a bold decision.
Diana was not sure if getting on a crowded bus was ideal. But it was the only option as the next bus was scheduled 20 minutes later. She did not have a lot of energy in her 80-year-old knees to stay standing through the whole bus ride to the fair, but a part of her was hopeful.
“Maybe someone will make room for this old hag,” Diana thought as she entered the bus.
Diana was not happy with the first leg of her journey. After all, the local monthly fair was the only time she got to really see other people in the entire month. Instead, she was instantly overwhelmed by the mass of people on the bus. She reflexively clutched her purse, although she didn’t have a lot of cash in it.
There weren’t any smiling faces. People were so immersed in their phones that they overlooked the 80-year-old stumbling by, looking for an empty seat.
“Look at all these zombies,” Diana thought. “How can I expect any kindness in today’s world? They’re all just–”
“Ma’am, you can have my seat,” Diana’s mental rant was interrupted by the lively voice of a young boy.
Diana looked at the boy smiling at her with a warmth she barely recognized in the world anymore. She was so pleased by the boy’s compassion that she didn’t notice him struggling to get up from the seat. Onlookers stared as they saw the boy lift himself onto a crutch and step into the aisle.
A child from the back yelled, “Mom, Dad! Look at that boy’s foot!” That’s when Diana saw it and felt her heart melt. The boy who had chosen to show her kindness only had one leg.
Kindness often creates truer bonds than blood.
“Oh, I didn’t realize, child,” Diana patted the child on the head. “Please, sit down. I’ll be–”
“No, ma’am, I’m perfectly al rright. You need to give those feet a rest. Please, I insist.”
Diana was moved by the boy’s unpretentious kindness. She wanted to politely refuse again, but the boy was already waiting to see her settle in the seat.
“Alright, but only if you agree to tell me everything about you, young man!”
It was a long ride to the fair, but for Diana, it was emotional as she heard bits and pieces of the boy’s life story.
“My name is Ethan. I live with my mother and grandmother in Springville. You look a lot like my grandma, Sue. But she’s been bedridden for the past three years. She used to read me stories and sing me songs all the time. But mom says grandma has lost her voice forever, so now, I read and sing to her instead. And then she smiles, just like you!” Ethan shared.
“And what does your mom do?” Diana asked.
“Everything, really! Mom works as a waitress during the day, then comes home for lunch and rushes to the mall, where she works at another cafe. She’s also learning to be a hairstylist. Whenever she’s got time in between, she caters for birthday parties and other events in the neighborhood. Ever since Dad died, she’s never stopped worrying. And I’m number one on the list. I try to help her with household chores and groceries, but she’ll always stop me from taking on her work. She won’t even let me tutor on the weekends to help her out financially”
“Like today, when I had some time on my hands, I offered to help with prepping for a birthday party this evening. But Mom stuffed a few dollars into my hand and booted me out of the house, telling me to ‘go have a childhood’ instead.”
Ethan and Diana chuckled, but Diana was secretly lost in thought, imagining the hardships of his mother’s life.
“Your mom sounds like a fierce woman!” Diana smiled. “She reminds me of my younger self…you better listen to her because there’s no winning.”
“My Dad would tell me the same thing, and he was the strongest man I ever knew! He loved her so much…”
For the first time in the conversation, Ethan choked up. Diana held his arm gently to calm him, sensing that there was a grave tragedy behind the boy’s pain.
“It’s alright, Ethan. You don’t have to talk about it now. Come on, our stop is almost here.”
Diana and Ethan helped each other get down and walked to the fair.
They visited different stalls, looked around with amusement as people bought overpriced trinkets, and finally got themselves some ice cream.
After two hours of roaming around, the duo was exhausted as they took the bus ride back home.
Sitting next to Ethan, Diana couldn’t stop thinking about his kind gesture and life story.
Something about this child’s story felt personal, and Diana wasn’t ready to just leave it as a chance meeting.
“Ethan, can you give your mother a call?” Diana asked. “Tell her an old woman you met on the bus has invited you to her home for tea and a slice of pie.”
Ethan was famished and smiled at the thought of warm pie. He told his mom about meeting Diana, and his mother happily gave him permission.
That evening, Diana made her trademark blueberry pie for the first time in months. And in the conversation that ensued, Ethan spoke openly about his father for the first time in months.
“He was my hero. He was my catch partner. He was the guy who made the most boring subjects in school interesting to study. And I was embarrassed by it at the time, but he was my greatest cheerleader.”
Diana held the boy’s hand as he opened up.
“Dad and I were driving home from my basketball match. I still remember how angry and disappointed I was because my team had lost. It was a minor match; it meant nothing. But at that moment, I didn’t know I was wasting my last conversation with my dad by throwing tantrums. I didn’t think we were minutes away from a car crash that would claim my leg and kill my hero.”
“Instead, I was busy being mad at him. ‘You should have bought me those new shoes, Dad. I really needed them today,’ I told him.”
Ethan still remembered how calmly his dad responded to his immature hissy fit.
“Son, the blessing wasn’t in having those shoes. The blessing is having two feet, a focused mind, and the ability to practice until you get better.”
Diana was speechless at the powerful words of the man she never had the chance to meet.
“My dad,” Ethan continued, “was a therapist and trainer for paralympic sportspeople. He lived to rebuild the spirits of sportsmen who had lost hope because of some accident or event that rendered them disabled.”
Ethan struggled to hold back his tears.
“Do you wish he was here to talk you through your challenges?”
Ethan was astonished that Diana knew exactly what he was feeling. He let his guard down for the first time since his father’s funeral and cried.
“I remember what he once told a one-legged sportsman who had come home in the middle of the night. The man had lost his leg in an accident and wanted to quit everything and disappear.”
“My Dad was the one looking after him during his recovery. He said, ‘My man, focus on what you have. Always. You have two hands. Two eyes. A brilliant mind. The desire to be the greatest at your sport. A family who stands by you. Don’t think for a second that any of those things are less important than a leg.’”
“Those words always stay with me. I try to live by them. I hope I’m doing justice to them.”
Diana tried to hide her tears as she consoled the young boy.
In the week that followed, Diana kept thinking about Ethan. It made her want to talk to her own son, who hadn’t visited her in a year.
She tried to call him repeatedly, but it didn’t surprise her when the calls went unanswered.
That’s when she decided to follow what her heart was telling her to do.
The following Sunday, Ethan got back home from his weekly trip to the grocery store. His mother was busy preparing lunch, and his grandma was trying to read the newspaper in bed.
That’s when Ethan heard a knock on the door.
“Mrs. Dale?” It was the same old woman he had given up his seat for on the bus ride to the fair.
Diana waved and smiled at Ethan, noticing his mother approaching the door.
“Hello, Ethan! And hello, you must be Ethan’s mom.” Diana shook hands with them.
“I just decided to show up and surprise you today. I was hoping to share some news,” Diana said, looking at the mother and son’s curious faces.
“You don’t know this, but I am the owner of the biggest chain of malls in the city. I didn’t come from a family of wealth, and so, when I heard about you, Ethan’s mom, I was reminded of a younger me. I was about your age when I lost the love of my life, too. And at that moment, while I was struggling to hold my life together and create a life of comfort for my little boy, I wished there was some miraculous helping hand that would lift us from years and years of struggle.”
“Now my son has his own luxurious life, and if he isn’t bothering to reach out to me, he must be doing well for himself.”
Ethan’s mother was saddened by the disappointment in the elderly woman’s eyes.
“I thought about whether it would be all right to give away all my wealth, my big home, and my comforts to someone else. I doubted whether anyone in today’s world, including my own son, still understands the value of kindness and the importance of family. I wasn’t sure until I met your son.”
“And so, I’ve decided to become the miraculous helping hand I once prayed for. I want to help you rebuild your lives. Ethan, I want you, your mother, and your grandma to move into my three-storied house and make it your home.”
“This tiny place where you live, scrambling to make ends meet – your dreams and aspirations don’t deserve to be confined here.”
“Move in with me, and I will provide for your needs. Get a fresh start.”
“And yes, in the process, I will selfishly take whatever feelings of belonging and love I receive in return. That’s all I want anymore, nothing else.”
It took some convincing, but Ethan’s mom finally agreed to give her little family a fresh start.
Diana paid for the most modern version of prosthetics for Ethan, giving him newfound confidence and freedom. Diana relived the joy of having a loving family, not just through Ethan and his mother but also through his grandmother, who became Diana’s best friend.
Nothing threatened their happiness, not even the return of Diana’s son three years later.
The son wasn’t there to check on Diana’s well-being but to demand possession of her house. When push came to shove, Diana didn’t hesitate to call the cops on her son, who had come back only for her money.
“My family already lives with me. I don’t recognize you anymore,” she said to him before closing the door in front of his angry face.
Ethan’s beautiful new home, which now included two beloved grandmothers, was blessed with many moments of love, laughter, and togetherness.
When it was finally time for Diana to go, she left him one last miraculous helping hand – the house worth $1.7 million.