Ben and Martha Gibson lost their son, Michael, in a hit-and-run accident a couple of years ago. Since then, Ben’s furniture shop lost a lot of business, and they could barely pay their bills until envelopes of money started appearing on their doorstep. Eventually, Ben caught the person sending them and couldn’t believe who he was.
“We’re going to have to sell the store, honey. It’s not working out,” Martha said with a long sigh while looking at the finances of their furniture store located in Reno, Nevada. She and her husband, Ben, had built the shop from the ground up, and their son, Michael, became a carpenter to take over it after them.
However, Michael was hit by a presumed drunk driver who fled the scene two years earlier, and everything went downhill for them. Ben became inconsolable. For months, he refused to go to the store as the memories of Michael were too painful.
Martha tried her best to support her husband and keep everything going, but it was not enough. She always handled management, but their customers returned for Ben and Michael’s quality pieces. No one could make furniture like them, and the shop’s reputation eventually soured.
Martha had been trying to stall the inevitable for a while, but it was useless. They couldn’t pay the store’s mortgage anymore and were tapping into their savings. They barely had anything left.
“I’m sorry, Martha. I will start going to the store and working with the guys. I’ll teach them,” Ben promised reluctantly, wetting his lips and wringing his hands in nervousness. Martha looked up at him with sadness and knew her husband couldn’t do it. He shouldn’t have to return to the store.
“No, Ben. We can sell the store and let someone else build their dreams on it. We are too old for this. The lot is worth a lot of money right now. We could finish paying all our debts and still have some leftover for our retirement,” Martha continued, tapping her computer keyboard and searching through the spreadsheets of their business. She wanted to make sure that everything was in order before they started looking for buyers.
Finally, Ben spoke up again. “Maybe you’re right. I just don’t have it in me,” Ben breathed and stopped wringing his hands. He stood up from the kitchen table and announced, “I’ll go get the mail.”
Martha nodded without looking at her husband, as she searched through all their files. But suddenly, Ben yelled and rushed back inside. “Martha! Martha! What’s this?” He was holding a thick envelope.
She took her eyes off the screen and placed her reading glasses on the table. “What are you talking about?” Martha questioned. Ben gave her the envelope, and Martha’s eyes widened at the many dollar bills inside.
“I found this on our doorstep. Someone sent us money. But who?” Ben wondered, wetting his lips once again.
“This is probably meant for someone else, Ben,” Martha suggested, but then she noticed their home address as well as “Mr. and Mrs. Gibson” written in bold letters on the envelope. “I don’t understand. Who would send this?”
After Michael’s death, Ben had been so lost in his depression that he didn’t notice how badly they needed money until Martha proposed selling the store. While he knew that returning to work would be impossible for him, Ben didn’t want to lose the fruits of their efforts just like that. This money could save them from debt.
“Please!” Martha scoffed. “Aunt Caroline wouldn’t give a glass of water to someone dying of thirst. There’s no way it was her.” She shook her head, looking at the money.
In the end, they decided to keep it in the envelope in case someone came for it in a few days. Martha was sure this had to be a mistake, no matter what the envelope said.
However, another envelope showed up days later, and another after a week, and they didn’t know what to do with all of them. So Ben decided to hide in the bushes every day for a few hours, hoping to catch whoever was doing this. But it proved to be more challenging than he expected. He was about to give up on a Friday afternoon when a young man showed up.
He had to be in his 20s and was wearing a pulled-up black hoodie. That means he doesn’t want to be caught. Could it be stolen money? Ben thought from behind the bushes.
The young man threw an envelope on their porch and began to turn. That’s when Ben jumped up from the bushes and rushed to him. The young man looked at him in surprise but didn’t run away as Mr. Gibson had expected.
“What are you doing, man?” Ben began, breathing a little heavily after jumping and running to catch up with the younger man. “Why are you sending us money? Who are you?”
The man looked at his shoes and placed his hands in his pockets. He sighed slowly and finally looked up. “Mr. Gibson, my name is Alec. I’m the one who ran over your son years ago,” the young man revealed as his eyes started to glisten.
Ben’s mouth opened in surprise, but his shock turned to anger quickly. “I can’t believe you have the nerve to show up here instead of the police station! I’m calling the cops immediately! My son deserves justice!” he yelled at Alec.
The man raised his hands, asking him to calm down. “Please, would you listen to my side? I know I did wrong. I know I should be locked up. But I’m trying to make up for it. I don’t know what else to do…” Alec sobbed.
Ben wanted to scream at him some more, but Martha came out just then. “What’s going on here?” she said, looking at both men standing on her lawn. She crossed her arms and said, “I take it you’re the one who’s been sending us money?”
Alec nodded but couldn’t speak and stared intently at the ground. Martha looked at her husband in confusion, and Ben sighed angrily. “Martha, this is Alec. He has something to tell us. Let’s go inside,” Ben demanded, using his hand to lead Alec into their house and closing the door.
Martha was shocked and started to cry when Alec revealed who he was. “But, please hear me out. It’s not an excuse. It’s just my side of the story. My mother died that same day, and I went drinking. It was so stupid,” Alec began, shaking his head in shame. “I didn’t see your son crossing the road, and then I panicked. I called 911 but didn’t give them any of my information. I just wanted the ambulance to find him.”
“Why didn’t you turn yourself over to the police?” Ben asked sternly.
“Because I have a little sister at home. We don’t have any other family. She would’ve been alone if I had gone to jail. I couldn’t. I’m so sorry. But I still had to do something for you. I’ve been investing money for years, hoping to accumulate enough to give you something substantial. Like…restitution. I don’t know—something to make up for it. At least, a little bit,” Alec explained tearfully.
Martha and Ben looked at each other, not knowing what to do about this man. Alec stayed quiet for a while but had to speak up. “However, I understand if you want to call the police. I’m ready to pay for my crimes. It’s what’s right. But I’ll arrange for you guys to receive the money still. I only hope you find it in your hearts to forgive me someday,” Alec finished and looked apologetically at the older couple.
“Instead of calling the police, I’ll make you a deal,” Martha suddenly stated. Ben and Alec stared at her in surprise after she finished explaining her idea. But Alec snapped out of his shock and agreed immediately.
Martha and Ben couldn’t call the police because they saw how regretful Alec was. It didn’t seem right to send him to jail. He had been in pain at the time of the accident and acted stupidly. So Martha told him to start working at the furniture shop instead and learn to be a carpenter. Surprisingly, Alec was a natural at it, although it would take years for him to be great.
Using the Alec’s money, Ben and Martha were able to settle their debts and revitalize thier furniture store. The eventually met Alec’s sister, Holly, too, who started working with Martha on the company’s management side.
Meanwhile, Ben finally started going to the shop again and formed a beautiful bond with Alec and his sister. They became as close as family, and Alec was glad to have earned their forgiveness.
What can we learn from this story?
Atone for your mistakes. You have to apologize and make up for your errors, no matter how horrible they are.
Never drink and drive. Alec caused a horrible tragedy for the Gibson family when he decided to drink and drive.
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.