Winter was on its way, even in Alabama. Later in the year than was normal, but the chill in the air gave warning to the impending cold days to come. I decided that it was time for Fred and I to take our sons shopping, for winter coats on the following Saturday.
Saturday morning came and the whole family piled in the car for the shopping trip. My husband, Fred, was always the best line of defense against the boys trying to convince me to buy unneeded items.
It was a long and tiring day, but in the end both boys had the coat that was exactly what they had always wanted, or so they said.
Sam, being 15 and cool, had chosen the same coat that every “cool kid at school was wearing,” He said.
Shawn, who was 6 years old, just had to have the coat that his brother told him, was “so cool looking.”
What did Mom and Dad know about these things, they were just there to drive and pay for everything!
We could not have cared less, Fred and I was extremely happy to let them have their “cool “coats so that we could go home. We were especially happy that the shopping was over.
Monday brought with it a cold front that was bordering on freezing!
The boys were quite happy to wear their coats to school (after all, they did have the coolest coats in town!). I dropped them off at their schools and watched as each boy headed for class.
The day was like any other, in which I spent the day cleaning and cooking. At two in the afternoon, I left home to go pick up Shawn from school.
This being his second year of school I was worried that he would be scared, if I were to not park in front of the building each day.
At two thirty, the bell rang and the children started piling out of the school. Laughing and playing, they all came running out. Shawn was not in the fray of these excited children, instead of running and laughing, he was walking slowly towards me with his head down, and looking quite sad.
As soon as he opened the door, I realized he was not wearing his coat and that he was not sad, he was looking worried.
I said, “Shawn, what is wrong?” Then, I asked, “Where is your coat?”
Shawn’s reply was simply this.
“Mama, please don’t be mad at me.” As two tears trailed down his cheeks, he told me the story of his missing coat.
“Do you remember Johnny Cagen, from my class last year?”
The name brought up the sad little face of a child I had met in Shawn’s kindergarten class. Shawn went on to say, “You remember how he was last year, you know, mom, he’s poor, right?”
I nodded my head, he continued.
“When we went outside today, Johnny did not have a coat on. I asked him where his
coat was and he told me that he didn’t have a coat. I ask him when his mom was going to get him a coat and he said his mom was dead!”
“He told me that his daddy could not buy him a coat, because they were poor, not rich like us. Please don’t be mad, Mama, I gave Johnny my coat because he was so cold and I can use my old coat. That’s o.k., Mom, isn’t it?”
I was in awe of my baby boy!
One of my dreams was to raise caring and loving children; children who would someday know when to step up and give the clothes off their backs, should someone ever be in dire need of such a gift. That day had arrived and I was so very proud of my son.
I reached out to him and held my sweet, caring, unselfish son in my arms. I told him how proud I was of him, and I was “not mad, not mad at all!”
We left the school and headed for the clothing store. We were not wealthy by any means. We had each other, the roof over our heads, our bills paid and food on our table, but I felt far richer than any person in the world could ever feel. Our family’s true wealth was the gift of love and caring our son had given that day, in the form of a new coat.