First came news of a mystery tipper leaving exorbitant gratuities in Utah, and now we hear another story of a Nashville man who paid for a family’s restaurant bill in an act of true compassion.
Mom Ashley England was eating at the Stag-N-Doe pizza restaurant in China Grove when her 8-year-old son, Riley, began acting out.
"He threw the phone and started screaming," she recounted. "The past few weeks have been very hard and trying for us — especially with public outings. Riley was getting loud and hitting the table and I know it was aggravating to some people."
Riley is non-verbal due to a rare and severe form of epilepsy that began when he was only 18-months-old. According to Ashley, he had more than 100 seizures a day. The seizures have deprived him of the ability to speak, which causes him great frustration and can lead to occasional outbursts.
What happened next shows that all hope is not nearly lost for humankind, as the waitress came over to tell the family that a mystery diner had paid their bill.
"I'll try to do this without crying," the waitress told the family. "But another customer has paid for your bill tonight and wanted me to give you this note."
The note read as follows: "God only gives special children to special people."
As Ashley told WBTV, this is not the typical reaction. In fact, many have said cruel things to her because they don’t know what it’s like to have a son who can’t talk.
"Until a person has walked in the shoes we have walked in," she said. "They have no right to say one thing."
She urges other parents to take stock of what you have, saying that many parents take a simple “I love you” from their child for granted. When WBTV’s Brigida Mack asked her, "Because you have never heard that from your son?” Ashley got choked up.
"Never," Ashley replied. "Never."
Not surprisingly, the act of compassion on the part of this man touched her more than words.
"To have someone do that small act towards us shows that some people absolutely understand what we are going through and how hard it is to face the public sometimes," Ashley said. "They made me cry, blessed me more than they know — I felt like out of all the rude negative comments that we are faced with — these outweighs them. The people who care!"
If you’ve watched the news recently, you were likely in need of a feel-good story. You’re welcome! Now pay it forward.