No Shopping Required

Imagine what a lovely surprise to find that you acknowledge that gift perhaps years after they gave it to you.

I befriended an older man named Andy when I was about 35. He was widowed, and I won’t identify him any further for his family’s sake, but needless to say, he had some shadows in his life that haunted and saddened him.

One evening at one of my backyard fires he explained, after some probing, that after the loss of his first wife, he was so low that he probably married the second time in the hopes of simply relieving his depression.

His second wife had also been widowed and had two young daughters from her first marriage. Andy had never been a parent before, but evidently tried his best to stand in as one for the girls. Yet their rejection of him was constant.

He became relegated to simply paying their bills, providing well for them and never getting a thank you. He paid both of their college tuitions in full.

Years later, as fate would have it, the girl’s mother passed on before Andy, and once she was buried and her possessions split out, he never heard or saw from the girls again.

In time, Andy had a stroke, and another several months later. Unable to speak, he was visited by friends and family in a nursing home and I reached out to his stepdaughters and left voicemail messages explaining that if they wanted to say goodbye, it might be best they do so soon.

I never heard back from either of them, but one evening—actually, my last visit before he passed on–a member of the nursing staff said that “a fortyish woman had stopped by with her children and stayed only a few moments.”

Clutched in Andy’s hand that day was a family photo of a husband, wife and three children. He tried to indicate to me who was in the photo, and as I filled in the blanks in this game of charades we always played when he wanted to make a point, he nodded and smiled so happy AND SO PROUD to know they had finally acknowledged all he had done for them.

Andy slipped into a coma about 10 days later and died a month after that. I phoned the girls again to let them know and the call was not returned. But I did leave a message that whoever had come to introduce him to their family had made his whole attitude different and provided him with the fact that he’d made a difference and had a life worth living.

He died believing he had purpose and had served a greater good.

Holidays are almost over, friends. Whose life can you change today? How about yours?

Ron Ciancutti is the Purchasing Manager for Cleveland Metroparks. He is not on Facebook, but he can be reached at

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One comment on “No Shopping Required

  1. Barb Burkholder on said:

    Wow. How good of you to remind those girls that they should acknowledge their step-dad. I hope your call turned their hearts to be one of gratitude for all that their step dad did for them. Bless You!

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