… Since he soon had to give a speech professionally on how he applied the principles of appreciation, he thought he would gain some worthwhile experience talking with the elderly lady. So he looked around the house to see what he could honestly admire.
“This house was build about 1890, wasn’t it? he inquired.
“Yes,” she replied, “that is precisely the year it was build.”
“It reminds me of the house I was born in,” he said. “It’s beautiful. Well built. Roomy. You know, they don’t build houses like this anymore.”
“You’re right,” the old lady agreed. “The young folks nowadays don’t care for beautiful home. All they want is small apartment, and then they go off gadding about in their automobiles.
“This is a dream house,” she said in a voice vibrating with tender memories. “This house was built with love. My husband and I dreamed about it for years before we built it. We didn’t have an architect. We planned it all ourselves.”
She showed Mr. R — about the house, and he expressed his hearty admiration for the beautiful treasures she had picked up in her travels and cherished over a lifetime –paisley shawls, an old English tea set, Wedgwood china, French beds and chairs, Italian paintings, and silk draperies that had once hung in a French chateau.
After showing Mr. R — through the house, she took him out to the garage. There, jacked up on blocks, was a Packard car –in mint condition.
“My husband bought that car for me shortly before he passed on,” she said softly. “I have never ridden in it since his death … . You appreciate nice things, and I’m going to give this car to you.”
“Why, aunty,” he said, “you overwhelm me. I appreciate your generosity, of course; but I couldn’t possibly accept it. I’m not even a relative of yours. I have a new car, and you have many relatives that would like to have that Packard.”
“Relatives!” she exclaimed. “Yes, I have relatives who are just waiting till I die so they can get that car. But they are not going to get it.”
“If you don’t want to give it to them, you can very easily sell it to a secondhand dealer,” he told her.
“Sell it!” she cried. “Do you think I would sell this car? Do you think I could stand to see strangers riding up and down the street in that car–that car that my husband bought for me? I wouldn’t dream of selling it. I’m going to give it to you. You appreciate beautiful things.”
He tried to get out of accepting the car, but couldn’t without hurting her feelings.
This lady, left all alone in a big house with her paisley shawls, her French antiques, and her memories, was starving for a little recognition. She had once been young and beautiful and sought after. She had once built a house warm with love and had collected things from all over Europe to make it beautiful. Now, in the isolated loneliness of old age, she craved a little human warmth, a little genuine appreciation–and no one gave it to her. And when she found it, like a spring in the desert, her gratitude couldn’t adequately express itself with anything less than the gift of her cherished Packard. — a story from Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends & Influence People”