His name was Cletus Mallory, but around the neighborhood, he was simply known as “that good man.”
That good man was every neighbor’s dream.
He was kind, friendly and never failed to lend a helping hand if one was needed.
If a neighbor was going out of town, they knew they could count on him to keep a sharp eye on their house. They knew he would collect their mail, their newspapers, and if they were going to be gone for more than a week, they knew that good man would, out of the kindness of his heart, mow their lawn.
Many times, a neighbor would ring his doorbell early in the morning, sometimes before sunrise. When he answered, he would be asked to watch a sick child while the parents went to work. Every time, he graciously agreed. Never having had children of his own, he relished the idea of playing the role of father, albeit only for the day. He made homemade chicken soup and read fairy tales to them while holding them on his lap.
That good man had a knack for doing things. He could fix children’s bicycles, repair a ripped screen on someone’s front door, and seemed to have a magical recipe for growing flowers. “Banana peels mixed in with the soil, are the trick,” he said. If the neighbors didn’t have any bananas, he would buy some for them.
Once, when a violent storm came through the neighborhood, a tree fell through a neighbor’s roof. That good man opened his home, and offered shelter until the neighbor’s roof could be repaired.
There was never more than a quick, obligatory thank you when retrieving a sick child or accumulated mail, but that good man didn’t mind. He wasn’t doing it for gratitude. He was doing it because he was a good man.
One day while out shopping for groceries, he tripped in the parking lot at the supermarket. An ambulance came and took him to the hospital. The doctor told him that he had a badly broken leg and would need help getting around.
He called one of his neighbors and asked if they would come get him and take him home. The neighbor had too much work to do. The hospital made arrangements for an ambulance to take him and when he arrived, he called another neighbor and asked if they would go recover his car and the groceries he had bought. The neighbor was too busy.
Several more calls went unanswered. No one was willing to help that good man.
Thirty-eight days later, that good man disappeared. One of the neighbors said they saw a bright light over the top of his house, but thought nothing of it. Not until the next day did they realize that he was gone.
Nothing was said about that good man. Instead, neighbors were frantically questioning each other as to who was going to collect their mail when they went out of town, and who would keep their children when they were too sick to go to school. “How could he do that to us?” they asked. “How could he be so selfish?”
A week later, all of the neighbors received a card in the mail. There was no return address, nor was there a stamp. Inside was a lone feather and a card which read;
“Goodness is given freely and received just as freely, but seldom is it truly appreciated.”