Chain of Love
He was driving home one evening, on a two-lane country road.
Work, in this small mid-western community, was almost as
slow as his beat up Pontiac. But he never quit looking. Ever
since the Levis factory closed, he'd been unemployed, and with
winter raging on, the chill had finally hit home.
It was a lonely road. Not very many people had a reason to
be on it, unless they were leaving. Most of his friends had
already left. They had families to feed and dreams to fulfill.
But he stayed on. After all, this was where he buried his
mother and father. He was born here and knew the country.
He could go down this road blind, and tell you what was on
either side, and with his headlights not working, that came in
handy. It was starting to get dark and light snow flurries were
coming down. He'd better get a move on.
You know, he almost didn't see the old lady, stranded on the
side of the road. But even in the dim light of day, he could
see she needed help. So he pulled up in front of her
Mercedes and got out. His Pontiac was still sputtering when
he approached her. Even with the smile on his face, she was
worried. No one had stopped to help for the last hour or so.
Was he going to hurt her? He didn't look safe, he looked poor
and hungry. He could see that she was frightened, standing out
there in the cold. He knew how she felt. It was that chill
that only fear can put in you. He said, "I'm here to help you
ma'am. Why don't you wait in the car where it's warm. By the
way, my name is Joe."
Well, all she had was a flat tire, but for an old lady, that was
bad enough Joe crawled under the car looking for a place to put
the jack, skinning his knuckles a time or two. Soon he was able
to change the tire. But he had to get dirty and his hands hurt.
As he was tightening up the lug nuts, she rolled down her
window and began to talk to him. She told him that she was
from St. Louis and was only just passing through. She couldn't
thank him enough for coming to her aid. Joe just smiled as he
closed her trunk.
She asked him how much she owed him. Any amount would
have been all right with her. She had already imagined all the
awful things that could have happened had he not stopped. Joe
never thought twice about the money. This was not a job to
him. This was helping someone in need, and God knows there
were plenty who had given him a hand in the past. He had
lived his whole life that way, and it never occurred to him to
act any other way. He told her that if she really wanted to pay
him back, the next time she saw someone who needed help, she
could give that person the assistance that they needed, and Joe
added "...and think of me".
He waited until she started her car and drove off. It had been
a cold and depressing day, but he felt good as he headed for
home, disappearing into the twilight. A few miles down the
road the lady saw a small cafe. She went in to grab a bite to
eat, and take the chill off before she made the last leg of her
trip home. It was a dingy looking restaurant. Outside were two
old gas pumps. The whole scene was unfamiliar to her. The
cash register was like the telephone of an out of work actor, it
didn't ring much.
Her waitress came over and brought a clean towel to wipe her
wet hair. She had a sweet smile, one that even being on her
feet for the whole day couldn't erase. The lady noticed that the
waitress was nearly eight months pregnant, but she never let the
strain and aches change her attitude. The old lady wondered
how someone who had so little could be so giving to a
Then she remembered Joe.
After the lady finished her meal, and the waitress went to get
her change from a hundred dollar bill, the lady slipped right
out the door. She was gone by the time the waitress came
back. She wondered where the lady could be, then she noticed
something written on a napkin. There were tears in her eyes,
when she read what the lady wrote. It said, "You don't owe
me a thing, I've been there too. Someone once helped me out,
the way I'm helping you. If you really want to pay me back,
here's what you do. Don't let the chain of love end with you."
Well, there were tables to clear, sugar bowls to fill, and people
to serve, but the waitress made it through another day. That
night when she got home from work and climbed into bed, she
was thinking about the money and what the lady had written.
How could she have known how much she and her husband
needed it? With the baby due next month, it was going to be
hard. She knew how worried her husband was, and as he lay
sleeping next to her, she gave him a soft kiss and whispered
soft and low, "Everything's gonna be all right, I love you Joe."