The Wave Game

The Wave Game

From A 6th Bowl of Chicken Soup for the Soul

The Wave Game

Giving is so often thought of in terms of the gifts we give, but our greatest giving is of our time, and kindness, and even comfort for those who need it. We look on these little things as unimportant—until we need them.

Joyce Hiffler

My mother died suddenly almost three years ago. She passed away less than two weeks before my wedding day. I was devastated. My wedding day was the best day of my life. She should have been there. I missed her terribly, and I still do. Even to this day, I do not spend many moments without thinking of her. Almost everything I do reminds me of her in some way.

Just this afternoon, I was driving home from running some errands and was behind an Explorer-type vehicle filled with what appeared to be a family of three young boys and their parents on an outing.

This brought back memories of trips my family used to take with my mother behind the wheel of the station wagon. We would all be loaded up with snacks and all sorts of neat stuff. “Are we there yet?” You know how that goes. These were some of the best times growing up. The road games we’d play were so much fun.

All three of the youngsters in the truck ahead of me today were facing my car, just staring. I thought about how my brothers, sister and I used to try to get people to wave from any of the other cars around us. Most of the time the people in the other cars were too busy driving to wave back. We got mostly frowns and brief nods from them. When someone waved, we would shriek with laughter and wave frantically back.

I suddenly got an urge to simply wave at the children in front of me. They simultaneously smiled and waved back. This made me smile. They would turn to their parents momentarily as if to tell them of our communication. We continued waving to each other. This moment was priceless. I couldn’t help but giggle.

We kept this up for a few more minutes, and then I felt the need to pass this family and head on my way. I was sort of saddened that I might not be able to continue to cheer those boys—as well as have them cheer me.

I passed the truck, smiled and waved good-bye.

This was not to be the last that I would see of this family. We eventually ended up getting off at the same exit from the highway. The father waved at me to pull over. Instinctively, I got nervous. My mother had always taught me to be cautious about strangers. There are all sorts of crazy people out there these days. However, I knew we were close to the tollbooths. I felt safe in stopping.

The father got out of the truck and walked over to my car. I rolled down my window to see a wide-smiling face. “My name is Bill,” he said. “I’m on a trip across the country with my sister and my three sons. My wife recently passed away, and my boys are quite uneasy about the trip. I want to thank you for what you did.”

I told him I wasn’t quite sure what he was thanking me for.

“My boys had been miserable this entire trip until you waved at them. You should know that you made a difference in their lives even if it is just for a brief moment. I want to thank you for being so kind.”

I smiled and thanked him back. “I lost my mother three years ago,” I said. “You and your boys brought back fond memories for me. Thank you for reminding me of great times our family spent while I was growing up. You and your boys have made my day a little brighter also. Please thank your sons for me as well.”

I wished him well and said good-bye. I drove alongside his truck, as he returned to it. I gave one final wave at the boys as I passed. All three smiled and waved back.

Those boys will probably forget all of this in a few days, but I will never forget it. People seem to forget how one simple act of kindness can change someone forever. A wave and a thank-you, that is all it was. The thank-you I received as well as the smiles and waves I shared with those boys were more precious than you can imagine.

In the beginning, right after my mother died, I thought I would never get through the amazing grief I felt. I cried every time I thought of her. Now most times when I think of her, I smile.

This man was thanking me for making his sons smile. I hope he realizes that I was just as grateful for my smiles. I will never be too busy driving to wave.

Misty L. Kerl

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