No Jacket to Wear
Several of the boys were standing around talking outside before the start of school. The weather was starting to get cooler and there was a chill in the air and a slight wind blowing. All of the boys were wearing jackets. The boys were talking about what they were going to do over the weekend.
Sally walked by with her head hanging low. She always seemed so sad. Sally looked so cold, she had no jacket on and she couldn’t wait to get inside the school. Some of the boys made a comment that she must be poor or she would have a jacket on. They laughed and made a joke of it.
Tim looked at Sally and felt bad that she always looked so sad. Now it was getting colder. What bothered Tim the most was that she had no friends. The other girls seemed to avoid contact with her. Sally always walked from class to class by herself and she sat alone at lunchtime. Tim acted much more mature than the other boys. I guess you could say that how people were treated met a lot to him.
It was that day at lunch that Tim decided to do something different. He went over to the little table in the corner of the cafeteria and said, “Hi Sally, would you mind if I sat here with you?”
She looked up at him in her usual shy look and said, “If you want to, it is alright with me.”
The other boys that usually had lunch with Tim was wondering what he was doing and many of the girls thought it was strange. Tim was a popular boy and could attract any girl in school. Many of them had dated Tim, but he never really wanted to date anyone special.
Tim smiled at Sally and said, “You look very pretty today.”
“Thank you, Tim, do you really think so?”
“Yes, I do,” he said. “Sally, can I ask you something?”
“I think, maybe so, what do you want to know?”
Tim felt a little nervous asking her but finally, he said, “It is getting cold and I see you don’t have a jacket on. Don’t you have one, Sally?”
Sally bowed her head and when she looked up she was crying. Tears were streaming down her cheeks and Tim thought maybe he shouldn’t have said anything. “My dad is very sick and he only has a few months to live. He has cancer and the treatments haven’t helped. Mom is by his side almost constantly. We have sold nearly everything that we own, including our jackets and most of our clothes, furniture and anything else we don’t need. Mom looks so upbeat when she is with my dad, she doesn’t want him to feel anything but positive. When she is alone she cries all the time. This is really taking a toll on all of us. I’m sorry, Tim, I can’t talk about it anymore, I’m sorry.” She got up from the table and ran away crying.
Tim just sat there. He didn’t know and he didn’t think any of the other kids did either. A couple of his friends came over to the table and sat down with him. Joshua said, “What is wrong, Tim, you look like you are in shock?”
“I am,” he said. “Did you know her father is dying and her family has no money and are selling everything they can just to survive? What can we do?”
“I can understand,” the other boy said. “It has been three years since my mother died and we were going through the same thing. It was the worst time of my life.”
The boys sat there and talked about what they could do. Lunchtime was over and they had to get back to class. Patsy, a friend of Tim and the other boys was walking down the hall as they were changing classes. Tim said, “Patsy can I talk to you after school. It is important.”
“Sure, I’ll see you after school.”
School ended and Patsy met Tim outside. He said, “Can I walk you home and talk to you about something?”
She said it would be fine. Walking along Tim filled her in what was going on with Sally. He told her everything that he learned from Sally in the short time that they were together at lunch. “Wow,” said Patsy. “I had no idea, I thought she was just snobbish.”
“Quite the contrary,” replied Tim. “It must be hard on her to come to school every day. I don’t think they have enough money to pay for a funeral. I know it must be a big worry for them.”
The next day at school, Tim got together with many of the boys and Patsy got together with many of the girls. The word was spreading about the trouble that Sally and her family were in. The boys all chipped in to buy a jacket for Sally. The girls were sure that the family did not have enough food so they all got together and bought some food. That evening the boys went to the store and bought a jacket for, Sally. The girls showed up at Sally’s home and gave her mother the food that they had collected.
When the boys gave the jacket to Sally the next day she thanked them all and gave them a hug. Tim thought to himself that it was the first time he had ever seen Sally smile. Tim said, “Sally if you need someone to talk to, I am here to listen.” The other boys told her the same and she was overwhelmed with their kindness.
Patsy saw Tim coming down the hall. She stopped him and said, “Judy is going to go online and set up an account to raise money to pay for Sally’s dad’s funeral.” Tim told her that it was a great idea. He let her know that all of the kids need to go home and tell their parents. That is exactly what they did and within a matter of ten days, they had enough money to pay for the funeral.
Tim took it upon himself to go to businesses in the area and let them know about the situation of Sally’s family. Within a couple of days, business leaders were knocking on the door and bringing in furniture, groceries, and other things the family could use. Tim, Patsy, and some of the other boys and girls from schools showed up and wanted to talk with Sally’s mother. Sally called her mother out of the bedroom.
They wanted to know if there was anything else that they could do to help. Sally’s mother thanked them all for everything that they have done. She said, “I am worried because I don’t have the money to bury my husband,” then she started to cry.
Judy said, “Don’t you worry Mrs. Wilks, we have raised enough money by going online line and setting up an account to pay for it. It is taken care of.”
Mrs. Wilks hugged Judy and thanked her. “I have been so worried.”
Tim and Patsy asked if they could see Mr. Wilks. It was alright and they spent some time talking to him. It seemed like his spirits were getting more cheerful. Tim and Patsy thought that he looked like he must have lost a lot of weight.
For the next three months, Tim, Patsy, and the other boys and girls did everything that they could to make life as good as possible for the Wilks family. It was just over that three months time that Sally did not show up for school. Patsy had seen Mrs. Wilks the night before. Mr. Wilks had told Mrs. Wilks that he loved her so much. Those were his last words as he closed his eyes forever. Mrs. Wilks cried and cried. Patsy let her have a shoulder to cry on.
It was four days later that Mr. Wilks was buried in the Eastwood Cemetery. As they were gathering around Sally looked up and saw over two hundred students and teachers from the J.C. Walton High School walking up the roadway to the cemetery. Sally said, “Look, Mom.”
Mrs. Wilks looked up and had to smile, even on this sad day. “What a bunch of amazing kids they are.” The kids gathered around, but the teachers all came over and gave their condolences.
In a couple of weeks, Mrs. Wilks went back to work. Sally seemed so happy, much different than when the boys first saw her walking by in the cold wearing no jacket. Life was getting better for Sally and her Mom, but they thought about Mr. Wilks often. Many of the boys and girls stayed in touch with the Wilks family.
Tim saw Sally coming down the hallway in school. Tim stopped her and said, “There is a dance next Saturday night, would you like to go with me?”
“I would love to go,” she replied. “You have been so good to me and Mom, I love you, Tim”
“I love you too,” he said.
© 2017 Larry W Fish