DEAR ABBY: When I was 12, my family moved to New Jersey. It was a difficult time in my life. Lucky for me, I made a best friend across the street, "Janie." We spent all our time together. I loved being at her house because it was a happy one, unlike my own home. (My mom was erratic and unhappy, and it affected our whole family.)
A year later, Janie learned her family would be moving to Ohio. I was devastated. The day the moving truck came, Janie and I were inseparable. The driver was a young man in his 20s named Randy.
When Janie and her family left in their car, I sat on the curb outside my house sobbing. When the loading crew finished, Randy started the truck, then turned off the engine. He got out and came and sat beside me on the curb and told me how someday my pain would lessen.
He said I was a special person, and shared a little about his own family who was far away. Then he took a ring off his finger and said he wanted me to have it. It was a Marines ring his grandfather had given to him. He insisted I take it, gave me a hug and drove off.
When I went into my house and my mother saw the ring, she said, "What did you do to get that?" It made me feel dirty and I didn't understand why. So I sent the ring to Janie and asked her to please return it to Randy, which she did.
In the years that have followed, that man's generosity and compassion have stayed with me. It helped me to believe in myself when things in my family seemed dark. Since then, when I have seen people who were hurting, I have tried to do what Randy did -- make them feel better.
Sadly, I have never known how to find him to thank him. Randy: Wherever you are, please know how much of a difference your kindness made in my life. -- STILL GRATEFUL IN TEXAS
DEAR STILL GRATEFUL: You are living proof that what goes around comes around. One simple act of kindness made an impact on your life, but you have multiplied it many times over by continuing to pass it on.