How A Little Boy Changed A Elderly Man’s Life

I want to tell you a story that touches my heart time and time again.  I often speak to youth groups about random acts of kindness. About a year or so ago I spoke to a wonderful group of energetic children. When I finished speaking, one of the teachers pulled me over to the side.


“See that little boy over there Linda?  Michael is a wonderful young man.  Although his parents hold down three jobs, they are still very poor. He is the oldest of three children and he has a lot of responsibility with his brother and sister. He cooks for them every evening and helps them with their homework.  However, he continues to struggle with his reading. We need to find a way we can help this boy.”


The day before I had facilitated a support group.  A woman in the group cried the entire time.  She said her husband was a retired English teacher and that he was confined to a bed and he felt hopeless.


The light bulb went off!


I met with the elderly man the next day. I told him of the young boy who was struggling in reading and asked if he could come and read to him twice a week.


“I guess so.” He whispered .


I then met with Michael. I told him there was an elderly man who is very lonely and wondered if he could go and read to him twice a week.


“I would love to do that!” Michael said with enthusiasm.


About two months later I got a call from the woman.  She calls her husband Mr. Ornery.


“I have to tell you Linda on the days that Michael comes to read, Mr. Ornery is happy from the moment he opens his eyes until the moment he closes them in the evening.”


The next week I met Michael at the supermarket.


“Did they have milk boxes outside your house when you were a kid?”


“Yes they did.” I responded with a chuckle.


At the end of the school year Michael’s reading grade went up from a D to an A.

He was learning a history that will be lost if we don’t speak to our elders.

And Mr. Ornery was happy at least two days a week.


A few months later, Mr. Ornery and his wife decided to move back to their hometown over 3000 miles away to be closer to their family.


Michael and Mr. Ornery continue to read and chat together via Skype.


And last week Mrs. Ornery called me absolutely delighted.


“Linda, Mr. Ornery now has seven children that read to him. And two of them call him grandpa because they never had a grandfather. Although he is confined to that bed, I have not seen him this happy in many years!  His love for these children has changed our lives.”


I was thrilled as I shed a few tears of gratitude.


  1. Lin Joyce 04/03/2015 at 4:20 pm

    What a fantastic story. I need to tell my friend about this as she is taking care of her dad and is trying to inspire him. Thank you.

  2. Keith Serra 04/05/2015 at 6:53 pm

    Very inspiring story Linda, it’s really a beautiful thing when you think one person is helping the other but in fact both parties gain so much from the experience that it changes both their lives forever and becomes a pay it forward kind of experience.

  3. deirdre 04/05/2015 at 7:42 pm

    What a wonderful story! They are both blessed !

  4. Cindy Bush 04/05/2015 at 8:02 pm

    That is so beautiful….it just shows how one little seed can take root and grow into something beautiful.

  5. Patty Sebok 04/05/2015 at 8:30 pm

    What a great story!!

  6. Paula Hochman 04/05/2015 at 11:13 pm

    I loved this story, thanks for sharing. Everyone makes a difference, definitely.

  7. Tracy Hunter 04/07/2015 at 1:06 am

    What a beautiful story and an excellent example of how generations at two opposite ends of the spectrum can come together and make both lives so much better. Most people love to help one another and most people need to feel useful. What a great idea you had to bring them both together and it allowed them to help each other and both feel useful at the same time. They thought they were helping the other person but they were helping themselves at the same time. I wish more young people would take time to spend with their elders, listen to the stories and benefit from what they have to offer. Very inspiring!

  8. Maureen Rulison 04/07/2015 at 5:32 pm

    Linda- your compassion and passion for both sides of the caregiving equation shows through so brightly.

  9. Lisa Barese 04/07/2015 at 6:57 pm

    Thank You Linda for your Love, Kindness, Compassion, and awesome Intuition.
    It’s amazing what a little help from “not the caregiver” can accomplish!

  10. Elizabeth 04/07/2015 at 9:37 pm

    Beautiful story! Thanks for sharing.

  11. Terri Dacy 04/07/2015 at 9:37 pm

    This is a beautiful story that demonstrates the enormous impact that “paying it forward” has on the lives it touches (both the giver and the receiver)! No one ever knows the burdens and heartache others are carrying, as they try to get through one day to the next with the bravest faces they can muster, and it truly is the smallest gestures of kindness (even a simple smile or a hello) that can change the course of someone’s day! If everyone would try to incorporate a pay it forward attitude on a daily basis, the world would, indeed, be a better place! This is a beautiful story, and thank you for sharing!
    Terri Dacy

  12. Laura Putman 04/07/2015 at 10:00 pm

    What a wonderful story. If more children were connected with seniors, both would experience a whole new way of being, love and joy. Thank you Linda.

  13. Pickles Tara Penix 04/09/2015 at 3:27 pm

    SO heart warming . I know linda personally and shes a wonderful woman full of wisdom

  14. Cathleen Prout 04/10/2015 at 8:41 am

    Love this story….truly touched my heart….so happy they can still keep in touch by Skype!!!!!

    1. lsburhans 04/11/2015 at 10:18 pm

      Me too!

  15. lisa 04/15/2015 at 11:53 pm

    Wonderful story .. what a beautiful connection tgey have … touched my heart

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