Boy helps old woman and inherits large cedar chest after her death

Oliverio Carrillo first noticed Mrs. Barros when he and his parents moved to the same neighborhood where she lived. Their house was across the street from the old woman’s home.

She had a huge black cat and was also the oldest person the boy had ever seen. In the late afternoon, when Oliverio came home from sports practice, Mrs. Barros was always in the garden watering her roses and waving to him.

That was before the little boy went to lend his assistance one hot Saturday morning. The ten-year-old went to the neighborhood shopping area to look at baseball cards at the old sports store.

Then he saw Mrs. Barros carrying two heavy shopping bags.

«Wait!» he shouted. «Wait please!» He quickly caught up with the old woman. «Hey! Can I help you with your shopping?».

The lady stopped, took one look at the boy and smiled.

«Hello!» she said to him. «You’re the little boy from across the street!».

«I’m not that little,» Oliverio said solemnly. «I can help you!».

«Thank you very much,» said Mrs. Barros. «That would be very kind of you!».

So the boy took the lady’s shopping bags and walked her home.

«Do you like the chocolate cake?» the old lady asked Oliverio.

The boy’s big smile and enthusiastic nod were answer enough. The lady invited the boy to her house.

Oliverio couldn’t believe how cool Mrs. Barros’ home was! There were strange masks and weapons hanging on the walls, and statues of all shapes and sizes everywhere.

«Wow!» the boy said in amazement. «This is so cool!»

The old woman laughed.

«Do you like my oddities?» she asked. «My husband was an archaeologist and I traveled all over the world with him. He collected artifacts and I collected stories.»

«Stories?» asked Oliverio, surprised. «I’ve never heard of anyone collecting stories.»

«Yes!» the older woman told him, smiling. «Wonderful, strange stories that mothers told their children and were never written down anywhere. Would you like to hear one?».

Oliverio said yes, so the old woman gave him a big piece of chocolate cake and a glass of milk, and told him to sit in a big, comfortable chair.

«This story,» she began. «I found it in Vietnam…».

Mrs. Barros told Oliverio an incredible story about a strange hairy creature that lived in the treetops. It only came down at night to devour children’s nightmares and then escaped through the windows.

«Like a dream catcher with teeth!» cried Oliverio.

«Exactly!» said the old woman.

And so, Oliverio was hooked. He began visiting Mrs. Barros on Saturday afternoons and doing little chores for her. His reward was always a piece of cake, a glass of milk and, of course, a story.

The older woman thought that maybe when Oliverio turned twelve he would stop visiting her, but she had been wrong.

The boy had turned fifteen and still visited her, but by then Mrs. Barros was getting very frail and, although she still told her stories, there was no cake. She simply couldn’t bake anymore.

When Oliverio was seventeen and a senior in high school, his elderly neighbor fell and broke her hip. Fortunately, he had promised to stop by her house to show her the tuxedo he would be wearing to the prom that night.

He was the one who found her on the floor of her house and called the ambulance. His second call was to the girl he would be going to the prom with to tell her he could not attend. Oliverio went to the hospital with his elderly friend and did not leave her side until she was taken into surgery.

Three days later, Mrs. Barros’ daughter, who lived in another country, arrived. She decided that her mother was too frail to live alone and moved her to an assisted living facility.

Unfortunately, it was several hundred miles away, but Oliverio visited the elderly woman twice before leaving for college.

Four years later, Oliverio received a phone call from Mrs. Barros’ daughter. She told him that her mother had passed away. The young man was deeply saddened.

The kind old woman had opened up the world to him and he cherished the memories of his time with her. But, in addition to the unfortunate news, her daughter had a surprise for Oliverio.

«My mother wanted you to keep an old chest she had,» the daughter said.

Weeks later, the chest arrived. It was a large cedar chest with carvings of dragons, and it had a large bronze latch. When the young man opened it, he was amazed.

There were dozens of notebooks, all carefully dated and filled with stories from all over Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas and the Pacific. They were a treasure trove!

Oliverio contacted a college friend whose father was a publisher and talked to him about what Mrs. Barros had left him.

A year later, he was at the launch of the first book of stories written by his friend, with him as editor. The book was called «Songs of the Earth» and proved to be a great success.

Oliverio donated the proceeds from the book to children’s organizations around the world promoting literacy and sent hundreds of copies of the text to schools across the country.

The book’s preface stated:

«I want all children to experience the magic I felt as a child, to hear the stories that prove that no matter what our cultural differences are, our hearts and our love for our children are the same.»

I think Mrs. Barros would have liked that, don’t you?

Ձեզ հետաքրքրե՞ց մեր հոդվածը, կիսվեք ընկերների հետ։