Widow to forever treasure random act of kindness

Posted by Lucy Luginbill on September 18, 2013 

It felt like the rug had been yanked out from underneath her — grief slipping suddenly into the elderly woman’s heart.

“We were married for 51 years,” Rose Marie Corke reminisces about her late husband. “When we first met in Portland, Ore., he knew I was the one.”

But in March, their happiness woven together through the years, ended when a massive stroke took Albert’s life. Left behind was Rose with only memories to comfort.

“He worked for a construction company,” Rose reflects about his career that took them both throughout the northwest. “Wherever he went, I came along, too.”

Their adventures didn’t end with Albert's retirement. The couple sold their home, bought a motor home and traveled across America. With family in Washington, a Tri-Cities RV park became their semi-permanent residence.

It’s still home for Rose where a lonely winter has stretched into fall — all without the companionship of her longtime love. Still, life must go on — chores to do, groceries to purchase.

Alone, the 82 year-old recently made her way to Costco where she found herself hesitating in front of a display.

“I was kind of looking and trying to decide if I wanted to buy one,” the widow recalls how she paused to look at the soft sheepskin rugs, an extravagant expense at more than a hundred dollars.

A woman shopped nearby, admiring the lovely rugs too.

“We stood and talked for a few minutes,” Rose remembers. “And I probably said my husband had passed,” allowing a brief glimpse into her grief that lingered.

The two women parted ways, Rose leaving the creamy-white item behind. As she moved through the aisles, a Costco employee approached her, a receipt in hand, and placed the coveted sheepskin rug in her grocery cart.

“I said, ‘No, it can’t be! You have the wrong person,’” Rose thinks back to her surprise.

But the clerk repeatedly assured her that it was now her rug, a gift from an anonymous shopper. No amount of pleading from Rose would provide a clue about whom to thank.

Was it the stranger who’d chatted and admired the rug, too? Or could it have been someone—even a family member—who happened to see the widow’s longing look before walking away?

Rose admits she’ll never know. But “this thoughtfulness meant the world to me,” she writes with gratefulness in a letter to the Tri-City Herald, “and I will treasure it forever.”

And many who have read that September letter know how kindness can make the hard edge of life a little softer. Sort of like the wonderful feeling of tired bare feet on a fluffy sheepskin rug.

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