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A True Kentucky Derby Story



This is not a horse story!

My Mother had a large group of teacher friends and they were always having get togethers. This is a story about one of her friends.

I will call her Mary, to offer some protection and privacy. Mary had raised her children as a single parent as her husband was killed in the big war. She was a third grade teacher for years and years and when it came time to retire she decided she wanted to see the Kentucky Derby to celebrate this big day.

Her children were all grown up with families of their own and they thought this was what she wanted to do to celebrate but they did not want to go with her. Mary found 4 other teachers in her group who thought it was a wonderful way to celebrate and they spent a year planning the adventure and even were invited to a fancy dinner party and ball during the adventure.

They also got on a tour of the area so the trip extended out to a week long event.

Mary was planning on hiring a student to help over the week with bags and errands, but no one answered her ad from the High Schools except a 12 year old boy. After a short interview with this young man, Mary decided he was just the assistant they all needed. The group found the boy to be resourceful, happy and diligent in their service. They also discovered that he had a sister and his mother was single parenting and working as a house keeper in one of the motels.

The young boy was also very smart and he added stories about the area and history to the retirement itinerary. Mary and her group took the young man, his mother and sister out to dinner the last evening in town and gave him a $100 bonus for his great efforts.

Then Mary asked this fellow to show them his school. It was in very sad shape as was the small cabin where is family lived. It was obvious that this was quite a struggle for survival.

Mary gave the family her address as she left and told the young man to write her about how he was doing in school and if he had some hopes and dreams. 2 Days after she got home a lovely thank you note arrived from this young man and he had answered her questions. He wanted to make enough money to go to college and take care of his mother.

Mary had never gotten a thank you note from her Grand children and they actually did not seem very interested in her or her activities – they would rather do something else.

Mary wrote back to the young man and then she researched college preparation schools in the area.

Mary offered the young man tuition to one of the schools if he would come home each night and teach his sister what he had learned and if he would make Bs at the school.

He never got less than As at his new school and he lived true to his word to teach his sister well.

Mary had tucked away a small amount every month from her paycheck to help her grandchildren with college. She now took this money and helped the young man and his sister go through college and medical school. The young man is now a Family Practice Physician and his sister is a Dentist. They bought a house for their mom and both of them write to Mary every month since that amazing retirement trip to the Kentucky Derby.

Mary died the year before my Mother. Everyone at the memorial service were excited to see her whole family together to honor her life and all were amazed when a lovely young man from Kentucky rose to speak about the gifts Mary and given him and his family – his whole family had traveled from Kentucky for the service.

This young man also had a box filled with the 1700 letters that Mary had written him over the years to encourage and assist him in his endeavors.

I wanted to share this story because it touched my heart about how sometimes just a small gesture and a lot of caring and thoughtfulness can change a life and win a horse race.

Happy May Day (did you get a basket of flowers at your door?) Happy International Worker’s Day and may the Kentucky Derby be a great horse race to remember and bring us all good luck.

Do you have a story about a little gesture that made a big difference? Or how about creating your family and extending it? Please share, I would love a collection here. Thank you

Other Related Posts you might enjoy:

Desmond Tutu on Compassion
Hats Off to Two Wonderful World Changing Men and the Books Bout Them
Merle’s Door
House Gratitude in Focus

21 Responses to “A True Kentucky Derby Story”

  1. Betsy Wuebker Says:

    Wonderful story! Reminds us we can choose to whom we give based upon our own set of fair criteria. Thank you.
    .-= Betsy Wuebker´s last blog ..Spring Puts On an Early Show =-.

  2. Talon Says:

    Beautiful story of a remarkable woman and a remarkable man. It reminds me that we are all family – blood related or not. I love the snowball affect of one genuinely kind act.
    .-= Talon´s last blog ..An egg, a seed, and grass… =-.

  3. Talon Says:

    I meant ‘effect’ . I don’t think my fingers have caught up with my brain this morning :)
    .-= Talon´s last blog ..An egg, a seed, and grass… =-.

  4. Sara Says:

    Patricia — This must my day for reading posts that bring tears to my eyes. This is a beautiful story of caring. It is a mother’s day story in that we are all mothers/fathers to those around us…not just our own children.

    I love watching the Kentucky Derby. You have given me an even better reason to watch it this year:~)
    .-= Sara´s last blog ..Picture Poem: Love is Divine =-.

  5. vered | blogger for hire Says:

    We live far away from our families and consider our close friends to be part of our family. Friendship can be just as strong, and rewarding, as family ties.
    .-= vered | blogger for hire´s last blog ..Vaginal Rejuvenation Awareness Day? Seriously? =-.

  6. Dot Says:

    A moving story of how much a little encouragement can do for a person.

  7. patricia Says:

    I just wanted to put a basket of flowers on everyone’s door step, ring the bell and run…I thought this little piece of truth would do it.

    I am off to a slow start this morning, because the sun is shining and the rain and wind are due back this afternoon….I just wanted to soak up the vitamin D….and also the shower was very hot from the solar panels…YES! Thank you for your good comments.

    Tears are good for cleansing the spirit….I think this is a story about appreciation too…I have a quote that is on my header by Mother Theresa which says there is more lack of love and appreciation in the world than bread….

    My parents lived far from family too We created our own family ties for our children too – we still need to be reminded about love and appreciation for all the people in our lives.

    Encouragement is a heartfelt source of energy and endeavor. I am working on being my own best cheerleader these days with Davina’s assistance – it is very helpful to have a good listener to assist in training the self to keep making progress. Thank you for your great comments.

  8. Kathie Wood Says:

    Thank you for sharing stories about love and kindness to man kind in such a time of social and political anger. It is a life saver to show the silver linings in peoples lives. You never know where you find your family.

  9. patricia Says:

    Thank you so much for coming on by and your fine comment. Yep you never know where you will find family.

  10. Davina Says:

    Beautiful story Patricia. Just goes to show how one good deed can become so much more. One person can make a difference.
    .-= Davina´s last blog ..The Muse Will Play in May =-.

  11. Patricia Says:

    Yes I do think we only learn one on one and really only make a difference one person at a time – we are all so powerful – just need to ignite …
    .-= Patricia´s last blog ..Book Review: EAT TO LIVE ~Joel Fuhrman, M.D. =-.

  12. suzen Says:

    Hi Patricia! FABulous story! Mary’s actions in this story teach us that we can make such a difference in peoples lives if we just stay open to the opportunities that come to us ALL the time! I have had so many opportunities myself, and I feel most fortunate that I followed through on them! To elaborate would not be in keeping with my effort to remain humble. Suffice to say in giving, I received gifts beyond measure!
    .-= suzen´s last blog ..Cell Phones – Just another appliance? =-.

  13. Patricia Says:

    I think remaining open to the opportunities is the important part and how we can create our own family.

    Have fun at the Kentucky Derby Tomorrow…I just bet you are going!

  14. Tony Single Says:

    “I just wanted to put a basket of flowers on everyone’s door step, ring the bell and run…”

    You know something? I actually think that’s a wonderful idea. I think I may do just that (or something very like it). I was very inspired by this uplifting story.

    Small acts of kindness + more small acts of kindness = a life of meaning. That’s an equation I can fully get behind. :)
    .-= Tony Single´s last blog ..A Weighted Mind =-.

  15. Hilary Says:

    Hi Patricia .. it’s interesting isn’t that you describe the young man .. as a young man .. ie he was wise beyond his years … if only some real older men and women would grow up and take on board there’s more to life than just themselves.

    What a wonderful story .. and I hope they’ve been able to turn Mary’s letters into something that we could all share .. Mary and her friends deserve to be applauded for releasing these children with great skills. They must have benefited too from seeing the brother and sister learn and grow with her gentle guiding hand .. and given them something to live for .. interest, stimulating, encouraging .. all things as we get older we need.

    Turning up at the funeral to wish Mary well on her journey .. lovely and bringing his family with him, together with his sister and her family .. love that.

    No flowers at my door – boo hoo .. I must dash (walk) to town and get some for my Ma .. just some refreshing rain – we haven’t had any for a while ..

    Have a lovely weekend – at the Derby?.. I’m sure I have a story or two .. but the brain is very addled at the moment .. – perhaps the care hospice workers give sufferers … their patience, softness, calmness is a wonder to behold … at such a difficult and sad time – Hilary
    .-= Hilary´s last blog ..The Okavango Delta – the perfect place to Safari or holiday? = Yes for me! Part 2/3: John’s Story…. =-.

  16. Patricia Says:

    I think you are absolutely correct Kindness +Kindness all adds up to meaning. I am going to go out an purchase a plant for near my front door to celebrate today.

  17. Patricia Says:

    The Kentucky Derby is about 3,000 miles away from my May Day front door! I believe I read that Suzen (wrote above) was attending the horse race this year and then heading off to the family retreat….it was her blog post that helped me remember this story.

    I interesting thing about the funeral was that Mary did not tell her travel partners or her family that she was helping their tour guide at all – they were all surprised. It was just something she wanted to do and knew others would be upset with her actions.

    I know that addled brain intimately – take care of yourself…is my motto as I begin the process again post my mum’s passing and as my brother takes a giant turn for the worse.

  18. Hilary Says:

    Hi Patricia .. 3,000 miles a little far for an afternoon out. Mary not telling anyone .. that’s a good person .. there aren’t many of them around and I’ve huge admiration for people who keep their light under a bushel.

    Yup – addled brain is working full steam ahead, and with a bit of an extra whoomph today .. all grist for the mill, but got to get on with things now .. lots of change happening.

    I’m sorry to hear about your brother .. doesn’t sound too helpful for you .. or good news for either of you ..

    Just look after yourself .. others have to sort themselves out – even if he is your brother .. if your health is not maintained as best can be .. it doesn’t help anyone.

    Look after yourself .. bye for now .. Hilary
    .-= Hilary´s last blog ..The Okavango Delta – the perfect place to Safari or holiday? = Yes for me! Part 2/3: John’s Story…. =-.

  19. Patricia Says:

    Yes! I return the words…look after yourself and get yourself a flower too… Good journey this day.

  20. Hilary Says:

    Hi Patricia .. yes bought Mum the last of the daffodils and jonquils this year, some red tulips and mixed and matched them .. and we have hyancinths .. purply pink and blue ones – I’ll take up tomorrow for her I think.

    Go well and thanks for the reply .. Hilary
    .-= Hilary´s last blog ..The Okavango Delta – the perfect place to Safari or holiday? = Yes for me! Part 2/3: John’s Story…. =-.

  21. Patricia Says:

    My hyacinths were amazing this year…they were early before all these weeks of winter weather we have been having. Your bouquet sounds wonderful. Go well…