We got our first ever carpeting installed today in two bedrooms. I know. Carpet is definitely not my thing. In the three houses we've owned, we spent many hours ripping out carpet, much preferring the look and farmhouse authenticity and cleanability of wood floor. But we'd like this house to be marketable and while we have no immediate plans to move, there is a freedom I feel when a house feels "ready" to go should God give us a nudge. And while *I* thought the painted (extra extra) rustic subfloor was quaint and Pottery Barnesque (or at the very least tolerable), most other people probably wouldn't agree. So after much angst and sticker shock and hemming and hawing I finally picked one out and it was (finally) installed today in about an hour.
Once the crew left the boys dropped to the floor and rolled and tackled and did carpet angels and marveled in what seemed to their virgin carpet skin as the most decadent luxury despite my cheap lower grade selection. And as soon as I inhaled that new carpet smell that filled our upstairs (even before wondering just how toxic it might probably be) a strong memory of my childhood triggered and filled my mind and heart.
We lived in an old farmhouse. Like old old. When we moved in there was still an outhouse in the backyard. My parents had gotten a deal because it was such a fixer upper and needed to be completely rehabbed. But it enabled them to move their current five kids from the city to the suburbs where there were yards and gardens and safer places to play. I was one year old and don't remember much of the beginning years. But I do remember something that happened at about eight or nine years old. The floors of that place were rough rough unfinished old wood. I remember the slivers we would get and the weekly needle surgeries on tiny punctured feet. I remember how cold the house was and how tight the money with now seven kids on a truck driver's salary. We made it okay and we certainly weren't in poverty (though I bet we would now be considered so) but things like new floors or carpet were never even thought of as an option.
But then someone somewhere anonymously gifted our family with a certificate to cover brand new carpeting for our downstairs. Anonymously. Hundreds of dollars worth of carpet. For some reason it was installed late at night which is really weird now that I type that out but it certainly added to the mysteriousness of the whole situation. My mom had picked out a variegated brown sculpted number (eighties) and as the crew unrolled and measured and stapled, the distinct strong smell of new carpet filled the house. And the first thing we did when the crew left late in the night was to roll and tackle and do carpet angels and marvel at how luxurious (and mysterious!) it was. It's amazing how a smell can bring you right back.
I'm not sure what my point is in writing this all out except that I'm grateful for that anonymous person who wanted to do something kind for a struggling family with seven kids in an old cold sliver-filled farmhouse. We never did find out who it was but their act of kindness and generosity left an impression on that young girl's heart. She learned a little bit about what it means to love, to be kind, and to give without expecting anything in return. The warmer and less wounded feet were a gift but even more so was the lesson in generosity and in true "do not let your left hand know what your right is doing" charity.
Today I said a prayer for that person. Whoever they are, wherever they are, I hope they felt it. Their generous selfless gift that they probably don't even remember lives on some thirty years later in the heart of a little girl who experienced their kindness. As I inhaled that new carpet smell again, I remembered the joy of such a gift and the beautiful lesson in love we received that night. I remembered that beautiful generous people in the world have always been around and that the purest gifts of all are the ones without any strings attached. I hope and pray I can live the same way.