Donuts and Immigrants. I’m Grateful to Both.

June 7 was International Donut Day and full disclosure, I missed it. Shamefully true, but I hope to make up for that here. Not only to celebrate donuts but wait for it….to celebrate immigrants. Yes. There is a connection for me. Oddly, I have two, which is part of the compelling reason I’m sharing this.

I must first tell you that my mother, God rest her soul, suffered from Alzheimer’s. My father took care of her until her last day when she died, surrounded by her family, in her own home. During her life, she was a lover of sweets, and every Saturday while I grew up, she and my father would get donuts. During the last years, the visits were not as regular, but when the hankering came, my father would drive her to one of the nearby shops. In the burbs of Dallas, Texas, there seems to be one on every corner.

My parents didn’t always go to the same store, but eventually, the owners of most of the shops recognized them as regulars. The owner of the first shop in my story would wait patiently while my mother would order a wide selection of rolls. Not being able to make up her mind, my dad would cut her off at half a dozen. One day, my father and mother drove to the store after my mother’s impromptu request only to find it closed. As my mother and dad got back in the car, the front door flew open and an employee, or probably owner, came out with a bag in his hand. He handed the bag of donut holes to my mother, for no charge. The owners of the store were immigrants, not terribly fluent in English, from an unknown, unasked, Asian country.

The second story also involves my mother and father. The closest donut store to their house is owned by a Korean woman. Her sausage kolaches are heavenly, but my parents usually went for the sweeter stuff. The first donut shop in this story was further away, and visited less frequently, but this one was nearer. The frequencies of the donut runs dissipated as my mother’s condition worsened, but my dad would still go there. Over the years, he’d look fondly at a picture hanging on the wall near the cash register. A painting of daisies and other wildflowers, it became a familiar friend and reminded my dad of sunnier times as my mom was a lover of flowers, especially daisies.

One day, after my mom passed, my dad went to the store, but the picture was gone. He was surprised and told them he was sad it was gone as it always reminded him of his wife who had recently passed. He left, not to return for several months. When he eventually did return, he placed and paid for his order, but then the woman reached down, directly under the cash register and pulled out a large wrapped gift. She handed it to my dad. It was the picture. She hadn’t known how to reach him, or when he’d come back, but the picture had obviously been waiting for him, for months.

My dad told me he was tearful. Touched and grateful, he took the picture home and hung it in a place of honor. It is one of his most treasured possessions.

These were extraordinary gestures, from relative strangers, who came to America, hoping to build a future for themselves and their families. I’m certain they’ve sometimes felt hate and feared prejudice, but they nevertheless reached out to us.

Thank you for the unexpected generosity and your sweet spirit. I will never forget and always be grateful for you—a wonderful person, giving of yourself and making the world a better place, one incredible donut and gesture at a time.

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