Thanksgiving Story Redux

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila

RE-POSTED from November 17, 2013 because I love this story. May God bless you with new insights and reasons for thanksgiving this holiday.

My brother-in-law recently shared this story. With his permission, I post it here. In a world heavy with cynicism perhaps this will lighten your heart as it did mine, this Thanksgiving season.

By Gene Taylor

stock-photo-20399839-vintage-american-truckMy mother, Rosemary, was an angry person.  She didn’t know why and that bothered her, not so much that she cared about how her anger affected others but that it was a facet of her being that she was not in control of.

The day I met the three travelers in this story my wife Nancy and I were on our way back from Reno where we had visited my mother at a very nice care facility. The Hospice folks and my wife, who also works in health care, had found a way to help Mom find peace on her death bed, which was our main concern.  The sure-fire solution for patients with anger, anxiety, depression and pain was 20 mg of morphine accompanied by 2 mg of Valium every two hours.  That med combo seemed to cure everything for Mom except for the anger.

Even experienced Hospice personnel there had rarely witnessed Mom’s kind of anger. And I was amazed and saddened by it, too. I had been hoping to be present for the magic end-of-life transition I had heard about where I might see my mother become one of us non-angry people. I was hoping she would reveal some part of the real Rosemary that I’d never seen, share some side of her I knew must be there, tell the secret of her pissed-offedness, if you will, or in some other way become genuine.

Didn’t happen.

Nancy and I headed home without the kind of closure I so hoped for.

Early that Monday morning at the start of our return trip, we stopped at an AM PM Gas Station/Mini-Mart outside of Reno to fill up the gas tank and get some hot coffee on this frosty fall morning.  The usual Mini-Mart crowd of construction guys were milling around. I noticed a rag-tag white pickup truck parked a short distance from the apron.  It had a cardboard sign affixed to the tailgate. The handwritten lettering said something to the effect that the occupants of the truck were stranded and needed money to continue on to California.

A folded up mattress, old BBQ grill, and cardboard boxes filled the pickup bed to overflowing.  It was a real “Dust Bowl look” going on. A young man, handsome, with a lean, wiry look, dressed in worn Carhartt coveralls was soliciting money near the rear of the rig; he was trying to make eye contact with the people going in the store.  A couple of people walked by him and spread their arms out with palms up indicating a no-sale. In fact, I didn’t see him collect any money and frankly he wasn’t very good at it.  I knew this was a common scam but he did have the look of fear and desperation, and that truck and its load did look genuine.

I was busy filling up when I noticed a young woman get out of the cab of the truck with something in a blue blanket held close to her.  I thought it was a baby at first and was kind of mad that they would put a child in that position as it was very cold outside.  Then I saw it was a cat!  Okay, heart melting time.  I walked up and gave her $10.  The man came around and thanked me and immediately pulled the truck up to the pumps and began filling it with that ten spot.

They were beside our car, now, and I asked the young woman, a pretty brunette with clear eyes and a quiet manner, what her cat’s name was.  She responded, “Velcro”. Clever. I got it. We exchanged smiles and I started to check my oil. The young man asked me if I thought his quarter-tank plus that $10 in gas would get him up and over the Sierras and on to Yuba City, a journey that included the infamous—and high elevation–Donner Pass, not someplace on which you wanted to be stranded in the cold. I really didn’t think he had enough.

He told me they started out from someplace in Colorado, the name of the town escapes me, with $180 hoping to make it to Yuba City where his family lives. They just ran out of money.   I fished out a $20 bill and gave it to him.  Immediately, the expression of fear and worry on his face vanished. He jumped around a few times and hugged me while thanking me.

From our brief interactions, it was clear they were both country folks. I loved them. They were so freaking genuine and authentic.  While the young man jumped with joy, the girl just looked at me with a look of amazement as if this was the first time a stranger had ever befriended her.

We were now preparing to head off over the hill to California ourselves while they finished fueling up.  The young man said, “I wish there was something I could do for you.”  I told him, “You have done plenty already.”

I’m not sure he got it; perhaps he did.

I do stuff like this often but rarely do I get this kind of reward. I was still thinking about my mother and her perpetual anger, and in that moment I knew what my mother missed her entire life by being angry, which influenced her attitude toward people in need. She would not have done—and never did—anything for people like these two beautiful travelers. If I had that void in my life, it would make me angry, too.

She missed so much…

I’ll never miss that $30 but it lifted the cares of the world off that young man at least for a moment, and a moment is all we really have isn’t it?

I’ll never lose what I felt that cold morning and I doubt they will either. We all changed, in some way, just then.

Even though it was early in the day and still freezing cold, there was no ice on either the passes or bridges over them although the elevation is over 7,000 feet and the ground atop was dusted with a second-week-in-November snow. And I wondered a little about that “gift,” too…

My wife and I met up with the Mini-Mart travelers at the Donner Pass Rest Stop and I asked their names. He was Joshua and she was Haley. The cat was still Velcro.

Posted in Thanksgiving themed | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Letters to The Remnant, 8: A Dream of Warning and Encouragement

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila


I had a dream two nights ago that went like this.

There was a group of us, perhaps ten, riding in a van packed with food. We were going to a church picnic. It was mid-day and summertime. Hot.

As we rounded a corner on a country road winding through lovely green fields dotted with trees, we saw the bodies, perhaps two dozen, strewn about in a wide area alongside the road to about a hundred or so yards into the field.

The driver slowed the van to a stop as we all stared. Silent. Continue reading

Posted in Commentaries, encouragement in hard times, end times spiritual survival, letters to the remnant, most recent posts, spiritual survival, survival tools | Tagged , , | 2 Comments


Seventy-three miles south of the community college where I teach is another community college that just this morning was invaded by a shooter who took the lives of (latest count) 10 people and injured more.

I’ve been much closer to a school shooting before. In the late nineties, a boy in the next town invaded his high school with weapons and likewise murdered and injured people. Only that time, I knew many of the students at that school which was just down the street from where I lived then. Continue reading

Posted in education and teaching | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

On the Pope, Politics, and Cognitive Dissonance

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila


Many non-Catholics who are anti-socialist due to its premise and abysmal historical outcomes are likely scratching their heads over the seeming national homage to the Pope who is visiting the U.S. just now and promoting, many argue, that very political ideology [1].

Many Catholics who are anti-socialist are likely also scratching their heads for the same reason. Continue reading

Posted in Commentaries, Ex-Roman Catholic/Catholicism, most recent posts | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

To Serve…Americans? On A Recent Executive Order—Are We in the Twilight Zone Yet?

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila

For those old enough to remember the1950s-60s The Twilight Zone television series, one episode likely stands out. It featured a friendly, as they seemed, group of aliens who visited the earth with an invitation for all to come aboard the mother ship and jet off to a utopian world where, as their promotional book touted, they intended “to serve man”. Continue reading

Posted in Commentaries, encouragement in hard times | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Letters to The Remnant, 7: Beware of Spiritual “Gaslighting”

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila


The response of a technology expert to the concern over the damage computer hackers can do caught my attention. He said that we need to be far more worried about unwanted software that snakes into the grid by means of playing to human nature, thus gathering our data “with our permission,” as it were, than we should be concerned about hackers scaling firewalls to get at our stuff.

“It’s easier to trick than to hack,” he said. Continue reading

Posted in Commentaries, devotionals and commentaries featuring technology, encouragement in hard times, end times news, end times spiritual survival, letters to the remnant, most recent posts, spiritual survival, spiritual transformation, survival tools, technology | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Letters to The Remnant, 6: God’s “Prepper Store”

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila


I live in earthquake country. Other people live in floodquake country, so to speak. Still others live in hurricanequake, tornadoquake, and/or “warquake” countries (with a few despots thrown in for bad measure).

In short, it behoves us all to prepare because besides the normal mayhem, some of the stuff we need to be prepared for is/will be of Biblical proportions.


And, prophecy watchers warn, the really bad stuff is coming down soon.

A body should be afraid. Very afraid. Continue reading

Posted in Commentaries, encouragement in hard times, end times news, end times spiritual survival, letters to the remnant, most recent posts, prophecy, spiritual survival, survival tools | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment