Dear Mary H. Brown

Dear Mary H. Brown,

We should begin by apologizing if that isn’t your name.  We are having a tough time reading your signature. So, please forgive us if your last name is something other than Brown.

Thank you so much for the “brownie bite” that was served to John at Appleby’s on Veteran’s Day. John asked if you were still in the restaurant (he wanted to thank you in person), but our server told us that you paid for his dessert some time ago. John then asked if he could buy dessert for another veteran, saying that he wanted to “pay it forward.” “No,” was the answer from the gal as she handed him our check; apparently the program to buy dessert for a veteran was over a while back.

We had already had a wonderful meal with John making his choice from the menu of free meals for veterans and we didn’t need dessert at all. But, the morning outside, attending the parade and ceremony downtown, had been so nice and we were enjoying our time at the table, so we lingered a few extra minutes. The dessert menu was tempting us both; as our server passed our table heading to another set of diners, she pointed at John and said, “I have a brownie bite for you.”  We were a little surprised and wondered what else she might be planning for us.  As she passed our table a few minutes later, this time on her way back to the kitchen, she paused long enough to push a small piece of paper toward John.

thank you noteOn it, you had written a message in red ink, “Thanks for serving our country.” That meant a lot to us. You don’t even know John and yet you not only bought him dessert (and, he LOVED IT, by the way), but you took time to write a note to him.

We were taught to write thank you notes and we try to adhere to that teaching. On Christmas afternoon, Mom Mullins would pull out note cards and her address book and the kids would write thank you notes for anyone who had sent us a gift. We also wrote them to anyone who had helped us during the holidays; you know, the music director at church, that sort of thing. We didn’t have email or Facebook or texting then, so a handwritten note was how we said thank you.

We still like hand written thank you notes the best. When one comes in the mail, it makes us smile even before we open it. It is just like getting another present!  And, a thank you note really doesn’t have to say much. We love them all, but thank you notes that come from kids are special. One of our favorites was, “Thanks for the birthday money. I REALLY NEEDED IT!” (We kidded that child’s parents a lot!) We got one recently that thanked us for birthday money and then went on to thank us for the birthday money we had sent to their younger sibling. Love it!

Ms. Brown, We wish that we could put this thank you note into an envelope and mail it to you. But, we have no idea where you live and we are not sure that we even have your name right. And, so, we are going to have to trust God to share our appreciation with you.  Know that “I thank God every time I remember you.” (Philippians 1:3).

Please keep giving to others. Don’t let our failure to thank you properly diminish your appreciation of our nation’s veterans.  It was a GREAT GIFT!  It was unexpected, undeserved and totally delightful.

And, we promise to keep writing thank you notes.

May God bless you and keep you!!

John and Jill Stein


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