This is the kind of good news that balances out everything else going on in the world: One mother was brought to tears when a stranger at the airport gave her an unbelievable gift by paying for her plane ticket to see her dying mother.
Laura Genovich, a Michigan mother and attorney who originally shared her story on Scary Mommy, found out that her mother had suffered a stroke the day before Thanksgiving. After being told on the Friday after Thanksgiving that her mother might not make it, Genovich rushed to the airport with her 3-month-old daughter, Audrey, leaving her husband and two other children behind.
Unfortunately, Genovich’s American Airlines flight to Orlando was delayed for maintenance. An hour later, the flight was canceled, leaving Genovich desperate and in tears. But after calling her husband to tell him the news that she might not see her mother for the last time, Genovich was approached by a stranger named Mary who had overheard her call.
Mary waited for Genovich and her daughter as they got off the canceled flight and helped them find the gate of a new Southwest Airlines flight departing just 15 minutes later. At the gate, Mary paid for Genovich’s last-minute plane ticket that cost $400. The Southwest ticket agent, Gayle, let Genovich on the flight just before takeoff and even sent her a kind email with Mary’s contact information after she arrived.
It gets better — as a reward for her act of kindness, Mary was given a voucher for a free flight from Southwest. And because of Mary and Gayle, Genovich was able to see her mother before she passed a few days later.
It’s stories like this that we need to hear more often. Evidenced by the recent terrorist attacks in the news, it’s getting harder to feel optimistic about the world we’re living in. A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that fear of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil has greatly increased after the Paris tragedy, leading many people to start looking at strangers as the enemy.
But Genovich’s story helps us see this stranger-danger in a different light. Random acts of kindness may not get reported as often as violent acts, and it’s normally because the do-gooders aren’t asking for any credit. It’s easy to forget that strangers are still out there connecting with people and showing us that the world isn’t always a scary place.
Look a little harder, and you’ll see that these special moments are happening all the time. We’ve seen strangers pay for dinners, prescriptions for children, and even Christmas gifts. There are also plenty of strangers who are making a difference with kind words and gestures, proving that you don’t always need money to pay it forward — like the woman who comforted a young mother’s baby on a plane or the Canadian college student who held the hand of a man with special needs on a bus. (The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has plenty of free ideas to keep the good deeds going all year long.)
For Genovich, it was this kindness from strangers, who she calls “angels”, that made it possible for her to tell her mother goodbye. Genovich tells Babble:
“Writing and sharing [this story] was very therapeutic, as it allowed me to process what was happening during one of the hardest weeks of my life. I have been overwhelmed by the positive public response, and I hope that this story has inspired others to be ‘Marys’ and ‘Gayles’ when the opportunity arises. Kindness counts. My mom would have loved this story, and although I wish more than anything that I could share it with her, I know that she would be pleased to see the news focus on a positive, uplifting story about the kindness of strangers.”