In todays world, when you read a newspaper or turn on the news, more often than not you read or hear about yet another tragic event or violent protest that occurred. We rarely hear about acts of kindness from one person to another.
Well, one man’s act of kindness to an elderly widow almost 30 years ago has resulted in a financial windfall that will change his lifevand the lives of his family forever.
31 years ago, John Gaetano was a 30 year old manager of a local consumer finance office. He and his family bought a home in Endicott, New York, next door to an elderly woman, Mary Garibaldi. Mary’s husband had passed away several years earlier andvshevhad no family in the area.
Often, John would mow her lawn, shovel her driveway and carry her groceries into the house for her. Several times per week John would invite Mary to sit on the porch with him and his family so she wouldnt be alone.
“I was brought up to respect your elders” John explained. “Plus she reminded me of my own grandmother, who had passed away in 1975″.
Even after moving to Cicero in 1990, John and his family stayed in touch with Mary. Onceva month, John would make the 90 minute drive on a Friday to pick up Mary for the weekend, then drive her home on Sunday. This went on for over 10 years, until Mary became too ill to travel. In the ensuing years, they talked on the phone several times per week and, whenever possible, traveled to Endicott for a visit.
Last month, Mary passed away and, with no family to speak of, left her estate to John, valued at about $1 million dollars.
Mary’s attorney, J.P. Wilson, remembers that, when Mary instructed him to name John her sole beneficiary, he asked why.Her simple response was ” there isnt enough money in the world to repay the kindness John showed me over the years. He was the son i never had”.
When asked what he would do with the large inheritance from Mary, John said he would use the money to create a foundation in Mary’s name, helping disadvantaged children.
“I was kind to Mary because she was a wonderful lady, who became part of our family and we all loved her. I believe the money woul be better served helping others, not rewarding me. I’m sure Mary is looking down from heaven, with a smile on her face and would be proud that her money is going to help others. Kind of a pay it forward thing. I would much rather Mary be proud of me than me being financially rewarded for being kind. My reward is having known Mary”