A Michigan woman was able to see her dying mother, thanks to the kindness of a complete stranger.
On Nov. 25, Laura Genovich of Grand Rapids, Michigan, received a call from Florida, where her parents live, saying that her mother had just suffered a stroke, according to Genovich's blog on ScaryMommy.com. For the next two days, she was on the phone with nurses every few hours to check on her mother's condition.
On the morning of Nov. 27, Genovich was told that her mother may never wake up. About half an hour after hearing the news, the woman picked up her 3-month-old daughter, Audrey, and headed to Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids to catch an American Airlines flight to Orlando.
After Genovich boarded the plane with her daughter, however, the flight crew announced that there would be a delay due to a maintenance issue. While waiting on the plane, Genovich made phone calls to her husband, father and niece to talk about her mother's condition.
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After an hour, passengers were told that the maintenance problem couldn't be fixed and the flight, which had originally been scheduled to depart at 11:09 a.m., was canceled.
"I just broke down and started crying because I needed to be there," Genovich told WOOD TV.
"My dad was alone down there," she added. "We don't have other family down there, and I had to get there as soon as I could."
That's when a stranger stepped in to save the day.
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When Genovich got off the phone, the woman in the seat in front of her turned around to speak to her.
"She said: 'My name is Mary. I've been listening to you for the last hour, and I've been praying for you and your family,'" Genovich wrote in her blog. "'I am not leaving your side until you are on a plane to Orlando.'"
Genovich's husband later helped her book a 12:15 p.m. flight to Orlando on Southwest Airlines. Mary stayed by Genovich's side and helped her carry her luggage as she and Audrey rushed to the gate and asked the ticket agent whether she could still get onto the flight leaving in 15 minutes.
The agent said she could, but the ticket cost $400.
Mary offered to pay for Genovich's ticket, saying it was a Thanksgiving and Christmas gift.
Genovich wrote that she cried and promised to pay the woman's generous act of kindness forward.
"I love you, and the Lord loves you," Mary said as the two hugged farewell.
Genovich eventually made it to her mother's bedside at 6:15 p.m. that day, about 15 minutes before the end of visiting hours.
"I laid the baby on her and I talked to my mom and I sang to her and I played videos on my phone of the other kids so she could hear their voices and to be able to do that is just priceless," Genovich said.
Her mother passed away on Dec. 3.
Genovich wrote in her blog that she received the following email after arriving in Orlando:
"My name is Gayle. I was the gate agent for Southwest Airlines in Grand Rapids working the flight to Orlando. I wanted to let you know that all of us here in Grand Rapids are sending you good thoughts and prayers. I hope everything gets better for you very soon, and we send our greatest condolences."
The email included Mary's contact information so Genovich could get in touch with the stranger who had helped her.
Genovich reportedly sent Mary a Facebook message with a picture of her father holding Audrey to thank her for her kind deed.
She said that she is very grateful to both the woman who helped her and the airline staff for accommodating her.
"In the middle of an extremely difficult time for my family, I experienced the most incredible generosity from a complete stranger and the unexpected kindness of a major airline," she wrote.