It’s a good thing to remember that not all beautiful stories are pretty.
Several winters ago, I noticed our toilet was leaking. We tried to fix it ourselves, but soon realized we needed some professional help. Hector came highly recommended.
I called his number, and though his wife (also his receptionist) told us he was booked, he came that same day. I opened the door and found a man straight out of Hells Angels. It was hard to see anything but the tattoos on every square inch of his body. His gray beard draped long and scraggly off his scarred and pitted face.
He stepped into our home, and his boots pounded heavy on our little welcome mat. Little dust clouds formed around him. I shuddered a bit.
“Hi,” he said in this unexpected soft-spoken voice. He had this pleasant smile, even though some of his teeth were missing.
We showed him the problem. For about an hour, he casually thundered in and out of the house, his waistline jingling with tools. At one point he crawled under our house to check on a leak. When he came out, he was out of breath.
He even checked a minor issue we were having in our bathtub, and showed us how to fix that, too.
“Alright, you’re all set,” he said, coughing deeply. His whole body seemed to erupt.
“How much do we owe you?” my husband asked him.
He thought for a second and shrugged his shoulders. “Nothing. You owe me nothing.”
“Can we pay you something?” I asked, following him to the front door.
“Nah, it’s okay,” he smiled. “If you need a plumber again, just remember me.”
Hector could have never known that at the time, it had been a hard year for us – unexpected illnesses, losses, my father-in-law’s passing.
He could have easily and fairly made a couple of hundred of dollars.
We kept insisting, but he just wouldn’t take anything from us. He left empty-handed, and left us puzzled.
So this past summer, we needed a plumber again. This time, for a major underground plumbing issue we needed to repair before selling our home. Of course I thought of Hector, but when I called his number, it had been given to someone else.
My heart sunk. I knew.
I knew this man was gone, and later, it was confirmed. He had died, probably not long after he had come to our house that day.
Why he showed us such kindness, only God knows.
I can never repay Hector. But for whatever it’s worth, I feel I owe it to you to tell you about this man who came into our life one day, in a time of leaking toilets and hardship, and reminded us that when we choose kindness, even the quietest act echoes, and something beautiful can come out of just about anything.