My paternal grandfather was extremely well respected in Girardville, Pennsylvania, but sadly he passed away in 1982. That being said, I’m going to tell you a story that is related to him and this event happened in 1995.
A state trooper pulled me over that year for speeding in Maryland, he looked at my driver’s license and asked, “Are you originally from Maryland?”
I said, “No, I’m from Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.”
He paused and said, “You don’t look Irish.”
“Well,” I said, “My mother is Italian.”
He then responded, “You know, I knew a Thomas O’Neill from Girardville, Pennsylvania. We called him Red.”
I said in a shocked voice, “That was my grandfather.”
The trooper then walked back to his police car and turned off his emergency lights on his cruiser. He came back to my car and said, “Your grandfather fixed my bike tires when I was a kid.”
He then went on to tell me about how when he was a teenager, he failed his driving test, and that my grandfather talked to the officer who administered the test.
“The officer,” he said, “took me back out on the road and pointed out all the mistakes I made and allowed me to retake the driving test.”
With a smile on his face, he proceeded to say, “I asked your grandfather,” trying to hold back from laughing, “well, I asked your grandfather,” he repeated, “why that officer went out of his way to see to it that I pass the driving exam.”
He continued on, “Your grandfather said to me, I used to fix his bike tires when he was a kid.”
The Maryland state trooper, while handing me his card, said, “If there is anything I can do to help you, just let me know. Not that I condone your driving, but out of respect for Red O’Neill this is my way of passing his kindness forward.”
He let me go with a warning.
Always with love from Suzhou, China
That was one encounter with a state trooper that I will remember to my dying day. I would love to tell my grandfather that story if he were alive today. I know he would have gotten a big laugh out of it, and he most certainly would, in an incredibly special way, have turned my story into a huge life lesson for me to learn from. Not to mention, he would have reminded me that “kindness is the greatest form of wisdom.”
Thomas F O’Neill
U.S. Voice mail: (800) 272-6464
China Cell: 011 (86) 13405757231
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