An Amazing Gift From A Stranger:
Have you ever wondered how people are given gifts from total strangers? It makes you wonder what drives individuals who have never met someone to offer these total strangers many of their prize possessions.
You hear about these types of stories and wonder if they had family members and why would they not pass the gifts along to them. Well, recently I became one of those recipients of very gracious gifts from a stranger.
It started on a Saturday in early November of 2016, I was outside painting a hood for my husband’s truck. I heard the phone ring, but was unable to break free since I was right in the middle of finishing up my project.
A minute later, my husband appeared and advised me to put down what I was doing and answer the phone. Of course you always ask, “Who’s calling?” Which is what I did. He explained that there was a gentleman on the phone asking to chat with me about giving me his car and everything in his garage.
Ok, I have to admit, I thought this might be a scam, so I was hesitant to answer the call, but knew I had to, so I picked up the phone. The caller asked if I was Teresa and I acknowledged, “Yes, this is Teresa.”
The caller began by giving his name; we will call him Don, to keep his identity private. Don explained that he is 89 years old and used to be a mechanic. He felt he had arrived at a point in his life where he could no longer drive since he is legally blind, or turn wrenches, and wanted me to have all of his tools and a car, a 1971 Plymouth Satellite Wagon. But if I took the tools, I must take the car and everything else in his garage. He also stated that it took him a bit to track down my number and was surprised to learn I still had a landline.
I wish I could have seen my face, because I am sure I had a look of surprise and confusion. After all, who calls out of the blue and offers so many personal things to a total stranger?
My next question to him was, “Do I know you, Don?”
He replied, “No, but I know you. I have read about you for years and seen you on TV many times along with a few articles in the Reno News & Review.”
Now this was really making me think, wow, really, why me?
I asked him if he had any family. Don responded, “No, they are all dead, I have out-lived them all, except a grandson, who does not deserve anything since all he wants are new things.” Don had a great sense of humor, because he went on to tell me that, although he was healthy at the moment, that I should not wait too long to come and retrieve these gifts, because time was working against him.
Since Don lived over 40 miles from us, and my husband and I would be heading that way later that day, I informed him that we would come down in a couple of hours. (If you are wondering if my curiosity level was on the high side, the answer is yes!)
We hooked up the enclosed car trailer and started our trip to check out this kind gentleman’s gift. It took us about an hour to arrive and as we approached the residence, we admired a very nicely tailored yard housing a single wide mobile home with a free standing, two-car garage.
We parked the trailer on the street just in case we had the wrong address. The neighborhood appeared to belong to older folks, just by the layout of the area. I knocked on the door and a tall, older gentleman swung open the door and said, “You must be Teresa.”
Don said he recognized me from the interviews he has seen me on. He grabbed his cane and shuffled us out to his garage saying, “Let me show you my junk.” After seeing his yard, I knew it wasn’t junk, more like lifelong prized possessions.
The door to the garage opened and there sat a very clean 1971 Plymouth Station Wagon, brown in color with Police Interceptor wheels. The garage was in a bit of disarray, but definitely was filled with tools and benches. There was stuff everywhere and most of it was tools. As my husband and I rummaged through things, Don explained that if we took one thing, we had to take it all. We, of course, agreed, after all, this kind man sought me out with his gifts.
It makes you wonder what it was that he was intrigued with about me that stuck with him over the years to where he reached out, working hard to find my contact information and offer me what I felt was a part of his life. It is hard to put your head around it all. I still think about it almost every day.
We positioned the car trailer so that in case we had trouble loading the car, we could use the winch. But the vehicle started right up. It had a little vacuum leak, but nothing to keep us from driving it into the trailer. Prior to putting the car in the trailer, we stuffed it full of car parts and tools, since there were so many.
Looking at all that needed to be loaded up, it was a sure bet we would need to return for at least two more trips in order to get it all out.
The first load was a heavy one and we returned a week later for round two. This time we also learned that there was a freshly rebuilt engine, a slant 6 for the Plymouth, along with a transmission that had to go. It was on an engine stand, but I have to say, it was rather tricky getting that into the trailer. (And not without a little battle wound.)
Don wanted everything gone, including things on the walls and the benches. We were loading and cleaning at the same time, since we wanted to leave the garage better than we found it, Don was sitting in a chair watching us and talking about his life, when all of a sudden he stopped, it looked as if he was getting emotional, and said, “You know Teresa, watching you load all of my stuff into your trailer, is like watching my own funeral.” Oh my goodness, that about moved me to tears. He was watching his entire life flash before him as it entered our trailer.
How sad is that? It reminded me of when my father was dying and he wasn’t ready to leave yet, but his body was. It too was sad and I knew I needed to keep many of the things he loved and saved all of his life.
The reality is, we all will reach a point in life when we can no longer care for our possessions and must relinquish them; or we are placed in a living environment where they cannot fit. That’s a very hard place to be.
I told Don that I will make sure that if I give some of these things away, they would be going to a good home. He knew that I was a Chevy Queen, so he assured me that if I sold the car, or gave away the tools to a good home, it would not hurt his feelings. He just knew that I would treat them like I had owned them all my life. I let Don know that I would be true to his generous gift.
There was in fact a third trip to Don’s house, to finish cleaning up the garage, and loading up all the remaining stuff that really was garbage into our dump trailer and taking it to the dump for him. We also swept out the garage leaving it clean. The garage door opening was having an issue so I was able to figure out the problem and repair it for Don.
By now, we were no longer strangers, but friends. Before heading off, I gave Don a hug and told him that I would continue to check on him just to say hi. We closed the garage door for our last time and Don was adamant that I give him my address and phone number again and the spelling of my name. That sparked my curiosity. I wrote it down on a piece of paper and asked him why, did he want to come and pay us a visit? He stated no, it was that he liked to write letters and wanted to keep in touch. It was then we drove off waving goodbye to Don.
I have tried to keep in touch with Don. I called him over the holidays, and dropped a line to say hi, but no answer. It has been a couple months now, and no letter from Don.
May God bless you Don, your generosity will never be forgotten.
To read about what transpired with the tools, click this link. Hana Farley