DEAR ABBY: Recently a neighbor, and friend of 12 years, purchased a new riding mower after the engine on his mower burned out. He asked if my husband would have any interest in the old mower, and said that if he didn't, it would be put out on the curb with a sign reading "free for the taking." Knowing the mower was in good shape, and that he could rebuild the engine or replace it, my husband accepted the offer. We felt this was a generous gift and we needed to replace our mower anyway.
A few days later, we came home to find our neighbor's new mower in our driveway. We thought he had brought it over for us to borrow while the one he gave us was in the repair shop. When we asked, he said it was the new one he had bought recently and he wanted us to have it. He had gotten another one for himself.
We tried to refuse such an expensive gift, but he became insistent and said he wanted us to have it. It made him happy to give it to us.
Abby, these neighbors are not wealthy. In fact, they are both in poor health and his wife is terminally ill. It seems too generous a gift to accept. Even if you feel we should accept it, it seems a waste of money that could be spent in a more practical way. -- GRATEFUL BUT UNCOMFORTABLE IN MAINE
DEAR GRATEFUL: Accept the gift graciously. It made your neighbor happy to give the mower to you. It would be wonderful if you repaid his generosity by being there for him and his ailing wife during this difficult time. Or perhaps you could be a Good Samaritan by doing an unexpected favor for someone else down the road. Good deeds have been known to generate other good deeds.