The Gift

  • Sharon McDonald ©

Thank you for the opportunity to share the single anecdote I have of Bill Kaysing.

It was Christmas of 1989.

In October of that year, I had made an impromptu move from the San Francisco Bay Area to Seattle, WA, with no money . . . and nothing but a suitcase filled with Indian-Summer clothing from a road trip I’d taken with my mother. As of October, I knew no one in Seattle, except for my Uncle Irv, who had just introduced me to his housemates. By December, I had found a place to stay and temporary work (through an agency) and had purchased a few weather- and office-appropriate clothes.

Christmas day, I bused to my uncle’s home to spend the holiday with him. His four housemates were all elsewhere, with family members. As Irv and I sat at the kitchen table, chatting, the telephone rang. “A friend’s coming over,” announced Irv, after a short phone conversation. “I haven’t seen him in a long time. I think you’ll like him.”

Half an hour later, Bill Kaysing had joined us at the kitchen table. Eventually, the conversation turned to me. “What kinds of things are you interested in?” asked Bill. I told him about my work as an actor and about an idea I’d had, for taking archived journals and constructing a theatre piece around them. Bill seemed quite engrossed in the concept . . . as he did in the wide variety of topics covered that afternoon.

Later, preparing to leave, he reached into his wallet and withdrew a $100 bill. “To get you started on your project,” he said, handing it to me.

Stunned, I thanked him profusely.

“Wow,” I said to my uncle, after Bill had departed. “I’ve never had anything like that happen to me . . . a total stranger just, out of the blue, handing me a hundred dollars. Does he always do things like that?”

“I don’t know that I’ve ever seen him hand out large sums of money; but he often does things that take me by surprise.”

It seems that Bill was the sort of person who acted spontaneously, with great generosity. And was never surprising . . . because you could always count on him to be surprising.

I never saw Bill again, but was saddened when I learned that he had passed. And I shall never forget him.

Sharon McDonald