After spending most of her life on the East Coast in a big city surrounded by friends, Mrs. Brown and her husband moved to a small town in California. Though her husband's work made the move necessary, she resented being separated from her old friends and made little effort to make new ones.
She also resented the flies which flew around in the hot summer air.
Whenever she went out the front door, she always waved her hands to scare away any flies trying to get into the house.
The Browns had been living there about two months, when one morning, Mrs. Brown heard a knock on the front door. She opened the door to find a young woman crying, who said, "I'm sorry to bother you, but I wanted to talk to you, because I know that you were so friendly to my father."
"Your father?" asked Mrs. Brown in surprise. "Yes, he died last night," said the young woman. "Unable to walk, he always sat on the front porch across the street. You have no idea how happy he was to see you wave to him whenever you came out of the house. He couldn't wave back because his arms were paralyzed."
Mrs. Brown looked at the young woman in amazement. The swinging of her arms to scare away flies had been mistaken for a friendly gesture which made her father happy.
Mrs. Brown consoled the young woman and helped with funeral arrangements. As she did so, she found her heart opening up. From that time on, she became a popular member of the community and a good neighbor to the people among whom she lived.