It was Ryan on the phone calling from the front desk at the clinic where I work, “There is a gentleman up here who would like to see you,” he said. I was in the middle of a counseling session and promised I would be up to see him in a little while.

I tried to guess what the man might need since I had gotten to know him over the last few months since his wife was diagnosed with HIV. When we first met, the couple didn’t have food in their mobile home, or enough gas in their car to get home from the clinic. I wondered to myself, “Could he need help with housing, gas vouchers for his car, medicine for his wife, or a listening ear?”

When I came into the waiting room I called out the husband’s name. He came striding towards me, yelled out my name, threw his arms around my neck, all the while smiling and showing his bright gold tooth in the front.

He led me to the hallway outside the waiting room and said, “Do you like pecans?” I said, “Well, yes, I love pecans.” “Wait here.” He went to his car in the parking lot and returned with a large, 25 lb bag of pecans. “I picked these off the ground and cracked them all for you and Miss Kathy (one of our Social Workers) to thank you for all that you have done for us.” I hugged him back and thanked him.

I don’t know if you’ve ever picked pecans off the ground and then taken the time to crack them all, but it was a gift of love and gratitude. One pecan at a time.

I opened the sack in our staff’s kitchen and shared them with whoever wanted pecans as they walked through to get their coffee or heat their lunch. I saw one of our doctors later in the day munching on a cup of pecans as he typed his notes into the medical record. I smiled.

Thanks sometimes comes in the form of cracked pecans.