It was 29 years ago this month that a dashing young Navy-man and his blonde, beaming wife entered your doors looking for the perfect nursery paint for their impending bundle of joy. No matter that they, at 19, were just babies themselves, their enthusiasm and commitment to both each other and that bulging baby bump were contagious, and you found yourself taking them around the store to inspect every shade of pink on your premises. The woman was giddily picking out pinks and purples while the young man, a talented artist who took his responsibility for creating a haven for his daughter quite seriously, would close his eyes and imagine how the colors on the walls would paint a picture of the life he would help create for her, and them--this new family they were starting.
I don't know what you saw in this young couple, besides the enviable Farrah Fawcett flip on her and his adorable high and tight buzz cut, but you saw something. You marched them up to the front of the store with a cart so full of paint it could have turned every room in their house (and heck, probably the exterior too) into a little girl's wonderland, and then you said the unexpected. You looked at those two young people square in the face, wished them all the luck in the world, and told them that every can of paint they picked out in the store that day was absolutely free. The couple left in grateful tears (after, knowing her, a hug and maybe even a kiss on the cheek was given to you as well) knowing that their little girl was entering a beautiful world with beautiful people who were good. So, so good.
I'm writing you this letter because you are an integral part of my family history. Those cute young people were my parents, and that baby born just one month after your encounter was me, Heather Quinn. My parents were so touched by your selfless act that they gave me the middle name Quinn, hoping that I would have the same charity that you so effortlessly exemplified. I grew up knowing that my name stood for goodness, and was so proud of sharing my names' roots that my college roommates started calling me Heather Paint-Store McKee!
After being married and having two adorable and feisty little boys of my own, I am expecting my first daughter who will be born this fall. I've known her name since long before I ever knew I'd be blessed with a daughter. She'll be named after me, but mostly after you: her name will be Quinn.
All my life I've wondered about you and why you did what you did. Maybe you respected the devotion in my parents' eyes, or recognized that as teenage parents (albeit, married already 2 years at that point!) they needed all the help in the world. Maybe you had once been a young, poor parent on the receiving end of an act of goodness, or maybe you hadn't, and charity was just as much a part of your being as your dark hair and brown eyes. I really don't know. But there is one thing I do know for sure and one thing I would like to say: 1. the Quinn name will always be held with respect in our home, and 2. thank you so much for doing what you did.
Once little Miss Quinn is here I'll be sure to send you pictures. I'm sure she'll be just as delightful as her brothers, although let's all pray that she's a little less rambunctious! And just FYI, upon finding your name and address online I called my parents, married over 30 years by this point, and asked them to verify that I had found the right Quinn. Without hesitation my Mom said, "Yes! That is it! That is the place!" We spent the next few minutes reflecting on good people and good memories.
Yours Truly and SO Many Thanks,
Heather Quinn Wigginton
I've been trying to reach the Quinn's since April (when I wrote the letter) to no avail. I was fearful that we'd never re-connect, even though I wanted so badly to tell them about how our Miss Quinn is coming and the goodness that came from their actions. Well, just a few weeks ago my parents were visiting family in Washington and adventured over to Whidbey Island (near the Navy base where I was born) and hunted down that Quinn paint store. And guys, it was still there! My parents met the son of the man who gave them free paint so many years ago, told him the whole story, and they even took a picture because, as our new Mr. Quinn friend said, "Of course, we're family!" Gosh. My heart has been so happy to pass on the name Quinn in general, but now, oh now...well let's just say there have been a lot of happy tears! I finally was able to send my letter, so now I wanted to share it with everyone else. And just for the this story couldn't possibly be more perfect record, in our email exchange Mr. Quinn offered to supply and send all the paint Ms. Quinn will need for her nursery. I know, right? I hope he wasn't too disappointed when I told him that his namesake may just be sleeping under the dining room table!!!