My family has been a resident of Lawrenceville, Ga., suburb of Atlanta, for 20 years. We have traveled from Atlanta to St. Louis and back during those 20 years as our immediate family live outside St. Louis. I have traveled I-24 so many times, I know the landmarks by memory. However, this past Christmas, Cadiz, only known as an exit to my family, became much more.
While traveling on I-24 with another mom and four kids coming from St. Louis after visiting relatives before Christmas and trying to make it back to Atlanta before Santa arrived, we had car trouble. We were forced to stop in Cadiz and stay the night. The ladies that worked in the Shell gas station right off the exit saw a crying, stressed mom trying to figure out how she was going to get the car load of little kids home in time for Santa and graciously helped us by connecting us with a local mechanic who would be willing to help us get our car fixed on Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve morning, I called the mechanic from Family Auto who was in the middle of celebrating their Christmas with their family and within an hour, Joey White was at the hotel to guide me to his shop. After diagnosing the problem, finding parts for a Honda created the biggest hurdle. Joey and his fiance drove to Tennessee to pick up the parts while I waited with my family at the Super 8 motel. The ladies that worked at the Super 8 motel were amazing, so helpful and friendly. It is so sad, but I never caught their names to be able to thank them.
At 2 p.m. on Christmas Eve, we were finally running again and back on the road. We arrived home at 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve, just in time to get the kids in bed for Santa to arrive.
I have always been able to give during Christmas and felt the joy of Christmas. However, I have never been on the receiving end and been so helpless and had to rely on the kindness of strangers. I have cried so much over the past few days – tears of joy – as I was able to understand that the holidays are much more than giving of monetary gifts, but also of the giving of one’s time to share the meaning of Christmas.
My father, who is also a mechanic, living along an interstate highway in Missouri, was heartbroken that he could not help us, but was so thankful that the folks in Cadiz took care of his family as he would have taken care of another.
So thank you, Joey White from Family Auto, the ladies at the Shell gas station and the ladies working the Super 8 motel on Christmas Eve. You have no idea how much your kindness touched my heart and that of my families.
Cadiz will no longer be seen as only an exit on the trips to Missouri but a city of beautiful, sweet, caring people. Thank you so much. We are forever grateful.
Mary Hoelscher, Lawrenceville, Ga.