Summary: A story of unexpected connection and history borne out of a selfless act
A year ago this month a friend was visiting from out of state and booked a cute AirBnB in the neighborhood. Surrounded by a garden of flowers and herbs, the quaint cottage was cozy, well appointed, and included a fire stove.
The fire stove door had a detachable wooden handle. You connected the handle to the door when you needed to open or close the door, and removed it to prevent it from getting too hot.
The handle had seen better days. Bite marks, probably from an enthusiastic pooch, pockmarked the wood, and one side was singed black. Worst of all, nearly half of the handle had cracked off and was completely missing.
The house was lovely and the AirBnB host kind and helpful. I thought it would be a nice gesture to see if I could repair or replace the stove handle.
I knew of a woodworking store in the area and I thought, maybe they have wood handles ready to buy to easily replace this broken one.
I took the handle to the store, and a kind gentlemen working there took a look at it. No, they did not sell any ready-made replacement handles that would work.
I suggested that anyone with a lathe and basic wood turning skills could probably whip one out in less than an hour. Did anyone in the store offer such services? Not usually, he answered, but said he’d be willing to do it himself. He thought the job would take a day or two and suggested — in my opinion — a too low price for the job. We shook hands to seal the bargain.
He began carefully taking measurements of the handle and writing them down on a sheet of paper. Then he asked me for my name and contact information.
“Toby Loftus,” I answered, and gave him my phone and email address.
“Loftus,” he repeated, spelling it out. “You know, my sister took piano lessons from a Loftus when she was a child…”.
“Where, and in what decade?” I asked.
“This would have been in Eugene during the ’60s,” he responded.
“That had to be my dad, Don Loftus!” I answered. “Although Dad passed away over 20 years ago, Mom is living in Ashland, and I’ll bet she remembers her!”
“Ashland?” he responded with equal surprise. “My sister lives in Ashland and still plays piano today!”
Indeed, not only did mom remember his sister as a piano student of my late father, but she remembered their father, too. She recalled him being owner of a wood working or furniture business in Eugene.
A few days later I returned to the woodworking store to pick up the new stove handle. It looked beautiful, perfectly proportioned and fitting comfortably in the hand, stained a deep walnut hue, and shiny with a fresh coat of clear lacquer. I couldn’t have been more pleased.
Pleased, too, was the AirBnB host, once she saw the new handle. She couldn’t believe I had it done and was so grateful.
The satisfaction replacing the burnt and broken handle was far outweighed by the delight the wood turner, his sister, and my mother experienced at the unexpected reconnection.
I don’t believe one should commit selfless acts and expect additional rewards — that rather defeats the whole purpose. Whether it is fate, karma, or mere coincidence, I do not know, but it seems like selfless acts beget more selfless acts and unexpected joys.
Regardless, there is no shortage of opportunity to, or need for acts of kindness and generosity.