Today I am thankful for the generosity of Laddie Habel.
Our church does an excellent job of promoting the importance of helping our local food shelf and every few months we pick up groceries as a part of a parish wide drive. The boys always enjoy helping to pick out what to get for the families.
Today as the boys and I were shopping I was about to go on auto pilot and grab the normal staples, but for some reason I suddenly had an urge to do something different. I asked the boys if they thought that maybe some of the kids would rather have something fun for a change? Maybe some type of tasty treat instead? They thought that’d be awesome so we turned around and went back to the cake mixes and frostings.
As we were headed that way I felt a very overwhelming wave of emotion and had to fake my eyes were watering because of the cleaner aisle we had just passed. I couldn’t figure it out at first, but then it started to sink in. The reason I was so overcome with emotion was because of an amazingly generous individual named Laddie Habel.
Way back when I was a small kid my parents were already struggling to make ends meet and then my dad was laid off. I really don’t remember it that well other than through stories from my mom and dad. The stories they’ve shared have stuck with me, and after today, I think they will stick with my boys (and according to Gavin, his kids also). That being said, I don’t think I’ll ever forget Laddie, his big smile and always happy demeanor.
Habel’s Food Market was a small little grocery store in Phillips that was owned and operated by Laddie and Kay Habel. When my dad was laid off Laddie was incredibly generous and offered to let my parents shop on credit… Not a credit card, but actual credit that they would pay back once he was working. As if that in of itself wasn’t great enough, it gets even better. My parents would only get the bare essentials, just what we absolutely needed to get by. After seeing their focus on the basics Laddie would smile and throw in some candy or ice ream at no charge for our family. He wanted to do something special to put a smile on our faces during an incredibly tough time. How awesome is that? Giving more than he needed to already, and then giving a little more to help others. Both of my parents very fondly remember his generosity and whenever we talk about it their emotions very clearly come through.
As my brother and I grew up, his store was the ONLY place to buy baseball cards in Phillips so we went there often. Every time we’d come in he’d get a huge smile and would help us out when we forgot to calculate tax into our $1.00 purchase. When we’d pick up candy he’d always seem to give us a little extra… And when he did his smile always got bigger. He was an incredibly generous man who liked to help us out.
And that’s what brings me to the grocery trip today. I don’t know how or why, but that story worked its way into the right part of my brain at the right time. The memory of the generosity of Laddie Habel and what a difference it made on my family hit me between the eyes. As we were picking out types and flavors (and then continuing along those lines and picking out some pretty great cereal too) I couldn’t help but to keep thinking about Laddie.
As we were driving home I had to keep my sunglasses on as I’d occasionally get choked up by thinking of how much of an impact he’d made in our lives. As we were nearing the house I was able to compose myself and share with the boys the story of how he’d helped. While Gavin isn’t always the best at focusing, he was totally locked in on this and took it to heart. We talked about how great it was that Laddie helped us when we needed it, and that’s why we need to help other people who need it too. My hope is that they’ll remember this story and pass it on.
Laddie may be gone, but he and his generosity will live on in the memories of those he helped, and in the stories shared by generations of the people he helped. What we do in life echoes through eternity and can have an incredibly positive impact countless others.