Women’s Day Tribute from a Mom to a Stranger for a Gift Worth More Than Money

By Lee-Ann Laufs

I have to share this: There is a lesson or 2 in here. I took Connor (my 5-year-old) to Pick ‘n Pay, and he sat in the trolley. This lovely well-presented lady stopped and asked me if he was a boy or a girl (due to his long hair) and said that he is absolutely gorgeous.

connor
A very grateful Connor. Photo: Lee-Ann Laufs

She asked him his name, how old he was and when his birthday was. Her birthday happened to be on the same day as his.

She was extremely friendly and asked quite a lot of personal questions, with me answering as friendly and honestly as I could.

But my back went up when she asked where we were descended from – Irish or German roots – due to the blonde hair and blue eyes; and then she asked what school Connor went to (my answer was a lie as I had visions of her arriving at his school to “steal” him).

She then brought out her wallet and took a note out, and gave it to Connor for him to buy something for his birthday. It was a R200 note.

Connor’s eyes lit up and I could see the little hamster in his head running on the wheel, wondering how many sweets and chocolates he could buy with a R200 note!

I was shocked and said that it was not necessary… but she insisted.

She carried on chatting, but I felt very uncomfortable and started to look around to see if there were any men watching us to find a gap to snatch Connor or me.

I then said thank you and good bye and walked off, not quite feeling right and wondering what the f*** had just happened.

I felt so uneasy and was going to finish my shopping and then go speak to management about it, and ask them to walk me out to my car… when I saw 2 staff members chatting and laughing with her.

Once she had walked away I went up to them and asked if they knew her, and told them what had just happened.

This was their answer:

“Oh yes, that is Beryl, she comes here every day and she is like that.

“She had a tumour and was actually going to die until a doctor removed it and gave her back her life. She comes here every day and will greet every single staff member and ask how their kids are, their husbands, sisters etc. She is just like that. She has a new lease on life and is now very giving.

“She used to walk in here slowly, hunched over and looking extremely sick but now is not sick anymore. That is Beryl, she is lovely and she is like that, don’t worry.”

Of course my heart and mind were relieved like you have NO idea, and my grip on my son’s arm loosened a bit… but then I felt so bad and sad.

I felt bad for how I thought, that she was trying to distract me and asking me personal questions so that she could go to Connor’s school and knowing all our info, pick him up and steal him, and since she was the kind lady that gave him R200 to buy a toy and sweets, he would gladly go with her.

BUT instead, here was a lady who seemed lonely, who was going to die, who has been given a second chance in life and just wanted to show appreciation to a little boy and his mom that she was alive and that it was OK to be nice to strangers with no strings attached or “bad things” about to happen to us.

I felt bad because you hear so many stories (true or not) about how criminals abduct children and women (not that anyone would want to abduct me!), and we as parents are so suspicious of a stranger showing kindness that I wanted to report her.

I then tried to find her. I wanted to hug her and tell her actually how much her gift was appreciated and that she had actually taught me a lesson or two which was worth much more than the R200.

It’s so easy to judge, to get your back up, to suspect… until you know the whole story.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying don’t be cautious and keep your head in the sand. I am saying: Don’t let the negativity of the world wear you down so much that you can’t see the good in people anymore.

So BERYL, if you are reading this, I want to say: “THANK YOU. I have been so depressed lately and have felt like I had no more direction in my life. Your kindness and appreciation of life opened my eyes to what I really have… I have a lot compared to many. I am healthy and I am alive and I won’t let the negativity of life and the world get me down anymore. I will be paying it forward and I will be looking out for you every time I go shopping so that I can give you that big hug that I missed out on giving you.”

I hope that the people who read this long novel (sorry) also pay it forward, and if you ever meet Beryl, a very friendly, smartly dressed, coloured lady with straight black hair and a handbag to die for… that you won’t run away from her thinking the worst, but that you will rather give her 5 minutes of your time and chat to her… but yes, still keep a good eye on your children, because yes, sh*t does still happen…

P.S. Western Cape resident Justin de Vos says: “Beryl is also a customer of mine… First time I worked on her car she returned the next day with a foozball table for my boys and huge lucky packets; and every interaction I’ve experienced with her has been like that. She gives. She is indeed an amazing person who survived cancer and now pays it forward everyday. Happy Women’s Day to her especially… And to all the others out there like Beryl…

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