Chuck and Ashley
Last spring, our cat, Patch, just wasn’t feeling up to snuff, so I took him to see the vet. In the waiting room, I recognized a familiar man, sitting with his own beloved kitty. I know this man from the neighborhood; in fact, many people recognize this guy. Every day, he’s out picking up trash, walking the kids across the street at the local elementary school, and pulling the weeds which have sprouted up on the boulevard.
I was so happy to finally meet Chuck. I asked him if someone paid him to do all these tasks. He said no, he just liked doing it for his neighborhood. Honestly, he said it with a radiant smile on his face. No resentment. Just genuine happiness.
We talked about his cat, Ashley, whom he had adopted 17 years ago. He was worried about Ashley because he wasn’t eating. Chuck, like most of us when it comes to our own pets, simply adored that cat.
He explained to me that Ashley was, in fact, a “he”. I told him I bet he was named after “Ashley” in “Gone with the Wind”. Chuck was so pleased that I figured that out.
It turns out that Patch was just fine, so we paid up and got ready to go. But before I left, I asked the vet staff if I could anonymously pay for Chuck’s vet bill. From talking with him, I learned that he lived on a very limited fixed income, and surely would not be able to afford the exorbitant price of x-rays and an overnight stay, and frankly, I could. And I wanted to thank him for all that he does in our neighborhood.
It was barely a blip in my credit card bill. For him, it was a special kindness. As he said in the thank you note which he dropped off for me at the vet’s office, “In almost 17 years of having Ashley, nobody ever gave anything.”
But these last few weeks I’ve had a nagging feeling about Ashley. I finally stopped in at the vet, and asked about him. Although they are not supposed to give out confidential patient information, the staff decided to bend the rules a little to let me know that Ashley had in fact passed away. The vet techs said it with such sadness, not just because of sweet Ashley, but because they said Chuck was so sad and lonely.
What’s more, Chuck cannot afford the cost of getting another cat. As my husband said, “What happened to the days when you just went and picked up a ‘free kitty’ from somewhere?” No, now the cats are screened and neutered and immunized, which is all a good thing, but makes adopting a cat more expensive than one might think.
I said, “I’ll buy him a kitty!”, but the vet technicians reminded me that even if I did buy him a kitty, future vet bills are hard to pay (they ought to know), and could always be a challenge for him.
So, I started a GoFundMe account. As with all that is technical, it was a little daunting, but I did it! I set up a fund which will pay for Chuck’s new kitty, and, hopefully offset some future vet bills.
I’m saying all this not to show how generous a person I am. I’m saying this because it really shows the power of giving. I give money to Chuck, we all give money to Chuck, but Chuck gives it back many-fold by sweeping the sidewalk and picking up trash, all out of the kindness and generosity of his heart. And we all end up a whole lot happier.
Care to join me? Consider doing an anonymous act of kindness today. Or even not anonymous.
As Paul Wellstone said, “We all do better when we all do better.”
Do your own anonymous act, but if you’d like to contribute to Chuck’s kitty account, you can do it here: