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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Perfect" Strangers

I spent this weekend driving from NJ to Ohio to attend my Grandmother's funeral and then driving back again. I didn't add up how many hours were spent in the car, but can tell you that we put about 1400 miles on it. My Grandmother was very loved, and her 6 children spread out pretty far, so my family members made the trip from near and far (Colorado, Maryland, Illinois, NJ, other parts of Ohio, California, Massachusetts). It was a sad family reunion (although we did manage to also have some fun).
The night after the funeral, most of us went to have dinner together at Steak N Shake. Not a fine dining restaurant, but they do make a mean burger! The hostess actually didn't have a heart attack when we walked in and announced that there were about 30 of us... and thankfully there was a large section of tables all by each other for us to descend upon. We felt kind of bad for the family of 5 that was trying to have dinner, who were now completely surrounded by us (they didn't seem to mind though)! (you can see them by the window in the first picture)
We mingled and took pictures, talked with the poor family that got stuck with us a little bit... the kids made a mess, took 20 bathroom trips. It was a normal extended family dinner.
Normal until I glanced over and saw my mother looking at something in utter disbelief. My first thought was that it was the check even though we weren't done. I went over to see what was up and she showed me a paper placemat from the restaurant with a nice note written on it in crayon. It was from the family that had been shoved in the corner expressing their sympathies for our loss (it had been mentioned in conversation that we were all together because of the funeral) and letting us know that there were angels watching out for us. It was very sweet, their kids had drawn on it a little and signed their names. But the really amazing part, included with the note was a Steak N Shake gift card for $100 to pay for our meal... all 27 of us!
They really were "perfect" strangers. Their random act of kindness really moved our entire family, and I hope that we will be able to pay it forward in tenfold.

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