British Columbia·Point of View

The kindness of strangers: 2 remarkable acts help granddaughter get to Germany

I was in my early 20s and my grandmother, living on the other side of the world in Germany, was not in good health. Two remarkable acts of kindness meant I was able to see my grandmother one last time and make it to my grandfather’s funeral.

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Two remarkable acts of kindness meant Dhana was able to see her grandmother one last time. (Submitted by Dhana Musil )

CBC Radio One's The Early Edition asked listeners to share their stories of kindness from strangers.  Dhana Musil's story is the fourth in a CBC series that airs from Dec. 10 - 14 about those moments of kindness.

Dear strangers,

I was in my early 20s and my grandmother, living on the other side of the world in Germany, was not in good health.

My story starts in Vancouver. I was working as a server at Cypress Mountain in the early 1990s, right at the beginning of the snowboarding craze.

You would come in for private snowboarding lessons; you were probably in your late 60s or 70s at the time. You always tipped us servers well and were very congenial to us. We all knew you.

You used to ask me about my hopes and dreams for the future.

One day, you came in and told me, "Santa doesn't only come at Christmas" and slipped 2,500 German marks into my hand. After your lesson, you came back later and gave me another 2,500 marks. 

Ed: The German mark has been replaced by the euro, but 5,000 German marks would be worth nearly $4,000 today.

I was shocked. This was more money than I'd made working all season.

"It doesn't matter to me what you do with this money," you said. "But I wish you'd take your Mom to Germany to go see your grandmother, because family is the most important thing we have."

My parents are German immigrants and never really had much chance to return to their home country because of a lack of financial means. My father never went back at all and my mother only a couple of times.

This was the only time all three generations of women — myself, my Mom and my grandmother sat together as adults. It was also the last time we saw my grandmother.

I never saw you or heard from you again, but I kept all the receipts from that trip, hoping I'd run into you and be able to thank you.

Nearly stranded in Amsterdam

And without a second act of kindness, my Mom and I would have been stranded in Amsterdam — where we met you, another generous stranger.

My Mom and I rented a car and had a few hours to pass before driving to Germany to see my grandmother, so we decided to have a look around Amsterdam.

But when we came back, we found big clamps around the tires of our car. We must have parked illegally and, rather than being towed, the car was completely immobilized.

I didn't know what to do.

I didn't speak the language and I didn't know the laws of the country. And it was also the Friday before a long weekend, after 5 p.m., so most places were already closed.

My Mom and I just stood there, thinking, 'now what?' That's when you noticed our predicament and came over, offering to help.

You ended up driving us to a far-off government office to get all the necessary paperwork done to free our car and, most amazing of all, you paid the fee for us — which was at least several hundred dollars.  

What amazed me about these two acts was there were no strings attached, it was pure kindness and generosity.

I try to do that in my own life. Whenever there is an opportunity to give, especially if I can do it anonymously, I like that.

Whether it's financially or emotionally or spiritually — and they don't even know it was me — it's the best feeling.

If you are the stranger in this story, or know who it is, email The Early Edition at earlyed@cbc.ca.

With files from The Early Edition

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