Grateful for a Mitzvah

photo by Marv

Just recovering from a miserable cold, the day had not started well— 51 degrees inside, heating oil tank empty. Hours later, thanks to the tech providing 10 gallons of fuel, I left home at near sunset to shop for groceries. Ninety minutes later, while placing my bags in the cargo trunk, a man’s voice called out, “Did you know your tire is flat?”

I engage with a lean, dark haired young man pointing to my rear tire. It seemed unbelievable that the day would end like this—a flat tire, out in the cold.

“Do you have someone you can call to fix it?” he asks.

“Yes. I can call Triple A.”

The man’s wife, from the shadows, comments, “You’ll have to wait at least 45 minutes or longer.”

“I can fix it, if you would like,” the man continues.

“He likes to help,” she explains.

“What’s your name?” I ask.

“Mary and John,” she answers.

“What’s your name?” John asks.


“Faye’s a beautiful name,” he says.

I step up closer, wanting to believe, but needing to check this stranger’s offering. “”Where’s your tire?” he says with a smile. His sincerity is undeniable.

“You’re sure? You really want to do this,” I ask as I push the bags of groceries toward the back. John lifts a panel to lift the tire.

“Oh, good,” I say, “It’s full sized and not a doughnut. Have you fixed many flats?”

“It’s been awhile. I think I can do it. Where’s the jack? Do you have a tool kit?”

I need to think fast, much too fast given how long it’s been since I’ve rummaged in the hidden cargo pockets. I hit gold and retrieve a bulky cloth packet.

John is quick, finds the jack, unties the packet’s ribbon and grabs the lug wrench. After raising the car, he fastens onto a bolt. It does not budge.

“You’re in good hands, not to worry,” Mary says. “I have a quick return,  and will be right back.”

“It’s cold,” John says. “Maybe you should go into the store. I can come get you. Or if you’d like, you can sit in my car.”

I’m in the moment, dressed for winter, needing to stay engaged and present. John doubles down. The wrench gives way. Within seconds, he twists all the lug nuts except the last. “Where’s your lug key? Mine’s in my front compartment.”

“Key?  I am clueless.

“It’s round. One lug is locked, for prevention. Otherwise, anyone can lift your tires with a common wrench.”

I search my glove compartment. No luck.

Undaunted, John returns to the packet and locates the lock key.Within minutes, he replaces the tire, stows the tool kit and damaged tire.

Mary, just back, says, “I knew he could help. He loves to pay it forward.”

“Yes,” John continues, ”I love to help. But most people say no. I’m so grateful you let me step up.”

His words touch me deeply. “In my faith, we call it a Mitzvah,” I say.

“What does Mitzvah mean?” John asks.

“A way of giving, of helping another in need.”

Mary says, “We are joining our friends soon. We’ll tell them John did a Mitzvah.” I assume their friends are Jewish; I’m grateful to deepen their connection. We hug.

John grins, comes towards me, arms open for an embrace. “I love you, Faye. Thank you for letting me help.”

I step into the arms of this generous man and without hesitation say, “ I love you, John.”

To say that John and Mary came into my life at just the right time is an understatement. Mary commented that because she had to return only an item, she had wanted to park close to the door, but John decided, in the moment, to pull in right beside me. Was the fact that I was an elder, on my own, tending to groceries, a fact that drew him to me? Mary had informed me his Mom had died when he was a teen. Their kids in college, I imagined they were close to my kid’s age. Whatever instinct drew him to me on that cold night, I was grateful.








10 thoughts on “Grateful for a Mitzvah

  1. lisa

    I read this a few days ago and it has stuck with me since then. What a lovely mitzvah, indeed! I really like your writing. It’s so well crafted, well timed, and you write with such vivid imagery. Your use of dialogue here really brings these characters to life for me. It was just the positivity I needed right now. We live in a world where “news” really means bad news and there are good people out there, everywhere really. I can’t wait to read more of your writing. I belong to this writer’s community which has been life-changing for me and I thought I’d just give you a heads up about it, in case you are looking to hang out with some other supportive bloggers who write. It’s called Yeah Write ( and they have all kinds of cool things going on, most notably a FREE weekly writing challenge (competition) for nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. It’s such a friendly and welcoming group filled with excellent writers who gently comment on one another’s work. Anyway, I sound like a commercial. LOL. Like I said, I’ll be eager to read more of your work. For now, HAPPY WRITING! 🙂

    1. fayewriter Post author

      Lisa, I so appreciate your detailed (both personal and professional)comments about my post.I am very grateful for your response and the fact that my intention for the blog fits your experience.Thank for your invite to check out YeahWrite.Me. I did so and attempted to sign up for the monthly. I’m not sure it went through as there was no acknowledgment. I’ll try to follow up after the holiday.

  2. Heather Christie

    What a lovely story to post during the crazy holiday season. It’s a beautiful illustration, showing that the best gifts are those that give a piece of ourselves: a good deed, a kind word, a smile. Thank you for sharing this wonderful experience with your readers, Faye!

    1. fayewriter Post author

      Heather,I so appreciate your comment re: “There best gifts are those that give a piece of ourselves.” Thank you for taking time out to share your response.Happy holidays and a peaceful new year to you and yours, my author friend.

  3. Patricia Rogers

    What a lovely story. We Christians would call it a “Christmas Story”, the work of the Holy Spirit! He was truly a Mensch! It reminds me of what happened yesterday as i tried to cross the street for my daily walk. I waited and waited until finally there was a clear path. A huge recycle truck flashed his lights for me to pass and the gentleman leaned out the window saying ” i cant believe no only stopped for you that is disgusting, disgusting”, i said thank you and went on my merry way. I too thought it was perhaps my venerable stature that inclined him to stop, but no matter, he too was a Mensch.
    His gesture touched me and i too felt grateful for the kindness of another.

    1. fayewriter Post author

      Pat, what a lovely bookend to my story! Of course, it was your venerable stature! It’s quite remarkable how these unexpected gestures of kindness give us pause and warm our hearts.

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