Jeremy never explained or made excuses for the missing items. He shrugged his shoulders, apologized, and went on with his odd existence. One day, he was killed in a tragic automobile accident. His parents were devastated. To their surprise, because Jeremy never seemed to have many friends, the high school hosted a memorial service in his honor. His parents were overwhelmed and stunned when they arrived at the school: hundreds upon hundreds of students, teachers, parents and administrators were seated in the auditorium.
One by one, dozens of the audience went onstage and spoke about Jeremy. Each spoke about how kind and generous Jeremy was. Each story had a similar theme. One young man said he once came to school on a cold day without a coat, because his mother couldn’t afford to purchase a new one; the next day, Jeremy pulled him aside, took off his own new coat, and handed it to him. A young female said that she once wore a tattered and torn backpack to school; the next day Jeremy pulled her aside, removed his own new backpack, and gave it to her. Story after story, item after item. Books, school supplies, even a bicycle. Jeremy had given items of value, including his time, his attention, and his helping hand and caring smile, to every person in the crowd. And he never said a word about his actions to anyone, least of all his parents.
His parents were chastened and ashamed to learn of his pervasive kindness. They spent so much of their time with him lecturing and punishing and posturing that they never asked where the items were, or what he did with his time. They never realized that their value of responsibility had been learned, assimilated, and acted upon, every day, by their beloved Jeremy. Although they lost their son and friend and student, in some mysterious way, each person he helped became an honorary part of his extended family. Each person felt blessed and proud of the example he provided, and realized that his high standard of benevolence was something to be emulated, duplicated, and continued throughout their lives. Jeremy will always be remembered. He was a great young man.
From September 2010, http://raising-a-man.tumblr.com