Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A long ago kindness honored January 4, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Edited image of a single rose in a bouquet of 12.


FORTY SOME YEARS AGO, I bought lunch for her. In Mankato. Neither of us remembered exactly when or where. But my friend recalled one important detail which she shared shortly after arriving at my Faribault home late Thursday morning. It was the reason she carried a dozen pink roses.

That Debbie would bring me roses seemed a bit much I thought as she walked in the kitchen door and we hugged. We hadn’t seen each other in decades. Our connection is not a deeply-rooted friendship. It just did not make sense that lunch and a visit would prompt Debbie to bring flowers.

Then she explained. When I bought her lunch those four decades ago, she was a poor college student with only $1.50 in her pocket. We met then to talk shop as Debbie considered accepting a reporting job at the same Minnesota weekly newspaper where I once worked. She wanted the scoop. As a young professional earning a salary, I didn’t think about Debbie’s finances. I just said, “Let’s do lunch.” And Debbie showed up.

I had no clue back then of her meager monies. But Debbie arrived at the restaurant with a plan to simply buy herself coffee. And then I offered to pay for her meal.

All these decades later she recalled that simple act of kindness. I had no idea how much my generosity meant to her. But now she wanted me to know, expressing her gratitude with those roses.

Debbie would go on to work at the same newspaper where I once reported. On Thursday we exchanged war stories about sources and too many long board meetings and the challenges of being journalists at a small town newspaper. I blazed the path for her, she said. I’d never considered that. But I knew she was right.

We talked, too, about children and grandchildren and challenges in life and our faith and much more. Debbie is the kind of person who, even if you haven’t seen her in years, you can pick up the conversation and feel like time has never separated you. We share values and work experiences and a certain comfortableness that marks our friendship.

And to think it all started with conversation and mentoring over lunch and me picking up the tab. Sometimes you don’t realize the value in a simple act of kindness. You just do what’s right. And then one day the kindness circles back with unexpected joy. And the blessings of a friendship renewed.

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


24 Responses to “A long ago kindness honored”

  1. Ruth Says:

    Audrey your story reminds me of what my grandmother would tell me. “Bread cast upon the waters is returned to you….and it’s frequently buttered.”

  2. What a lovely story. You just never know the impact you have on someone. That is why I truly try to make sure that those who make a difference in my life know that they make a difference. It makes the world a better place when we all can just do simple kindnesses to share with others. It’s not about me or you -it’s just doing the right thing like you said.

  3. Dan Traun Says:

    Wonderful story and a good reminder how acts of kindness can impact others.

  4. One Profound Word – KINDNESS! It is so simple to act kindly. I make it my mission to say hi or morning and enjoy your day while riding the elevator every morning during the work week. It makes me feel like I am starting my day off right and sometimes I get a saying back or even a smile. Love this post today 🙂 Happy Day – Enjoy

  5. Littlesundog Says:

    We are all so connected, and it’s wonderful to learn some simple gesture could mean so much and come back to you – especially so many years later! Most of the time my gesture is a smile or a quick greeting when out grocery shopping. Acknowledging others is important.

  6. Gunny Says:

    I think the Almighty brings us together to help one another. I ran into a similar situation. It was before payday. A close friend had just moved to town. I checked to cupboards and we had enough food for a grand meal and to celebrate the arrival of my friend and I had about $20 which was like a small fortune). We called them to invite them and the “party” was on. Years later, found out my friend had money for gas or for food but not both. I was humbled by the appreciation that came from them when they detailed their financial predicament years later. I assured them they were always welcome.

    • Gunny, thank you for sharing this beautiful story. I, too, believe that God brings people into our lives when we most need them to be there for us. What a blessing you were to your friend. When my friend Debbie shared her gratitude with me yesterday, I was overwhelmed by her genuine thankfulness.

  7. Valerie Says:

    Thirty-six years ago we met a couple who were expecting their first baby, during the greeting time in our church. A few weeks later we got news of the birth of their son. I decided to take lunch over to her…so I made tuna fish sandwiches and brought them over in a brown paper bag! I was new at the “bringing meals over to new parents: thing…However, that lunch turned into a beautiful and lasting friendship. She is one of my dearest friends to this day. We laugh about the brown paper bag, but it always brings tears to my eyes too.

    • I love your story of tuna fish sandwiches in a brown paper bag that developed into a lasting friendship. What a blessing your thought and care were to that new mom.

      BTW, you make some terrific meatloaf, even if it didn’t come in a brown paper bag.

  8. Jackie Says:

    Even the littlest things can be pretty big to someone else. Love this story of your sweet friendship. That rose is beautiful!

  9. This truly shows how much a simple kindness can impact a person’s life. I don’t think any of us really understand how much or how many lives we touch. Lovely memory, Audrey. ❤

  10. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Ripple effect…

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