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She was overwhelmed by clearing out her parents' belongings. Then a friend stepped in

 Karen Muller needed to clear out her parents' old belongings when a family friend stepped in to help.
Karen Muller
Karen Muller needed to clear out her parents' old belongings when a family friend stepped in to help.

This story is part of the My Unsung Hero series, from the Hidden Brain team. It features stories of people whose kindness left a lasting impression on someone else.

In January 2020, Karen Muller's father passed away. Soon after, Muller's mother decided to downsize from their big house with a three-car garage to a retirement home.

Muller lived more than two hours away from her mom. Every week, she'd drive from Ohio to Indiana to ready the house for sale. The to-do list was long and included fixing the shutters, repainting the dining room and scraping mold off the roof. On top of all that, Muller had to sift through decades of her parents' belongings. COVID-19 lockdowns were in effect at the time, so friends couldn't come over to help, and donation centers weren't accepting drop-offs.

"The boxes started filling up in the garage higher and higher. They had to be five or six boxes high, and when you opened up that garage door, it was just a wall of boxes," Muller recalled. "And I just kept thinking, 'Oh, my goodness. What are we gonna do?'"

Muller didn't have a truck and was already overwhelmed with the weekly trips to and from her mother's place.

One day, she arrived at her mom's house as usual and popped open the garage. It was completely empty. All the boxes were gone. Muller entered the house to check in with her mom.

"I literally had tears in my eyes and this huge weight lifted off of my chest, and I went in and I said, 'Who took all the boxes? What happened to them?' And my mom said, 'Oh, Stan came over.'"

Stan was the husband of her mother's best friend. He had come over and hauled away load after load until the garage was emptied of all the boxes.

"To me it was just a miracle that somebody had done something. I just remember waking up with this heaviness, pretty much every day. [And] I'm the only one left ... so all of this fell on me. And so when I opened up the garage door and I just saw that was gone, it was utter relief," Muller said.

Stan Quimby, the hero of this story, passed away about a year ago. Muller says his act of kindness stands as an example of how she wants to live her own life.

My Unsung Hero is also a podcast — new episodes are released every Tuesday. To share the story of your unsung hero with the Hidden Brain team, record a voice memo on your phone and send it to myunsunghero@hiddenbrain.org.

Copyright 2024 NPR

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Autumn Barnes
[Copyright 2024 NPR]