After a mom sold her dead son’s bed at a yard sale, she was surprised when the buyer returned days later. Then, he shocked her even further when he told her to look in the trunk. That’s when she began to cry.
Valerie Watts, a young mother from Cokato, Minnesota, tragically learned firsthand how difficult it is to lose a child. During her ninth month of pregnancy, everything was prepared for the birth of her son. But, then, just a few days before her due date, she felt something was wrong. Unfortunately, her mother’s intuition was right.
Valerie sensed something wasn’t right when her son had stopped moving in her womb. Unbeknownst to Valerie at the time, her son’s umbilical cord had become pinched in utero, cutting off his supply of oxygen and nutrients. The baby, who she named Noah, died in her womb, and the devastated mother later delivered him stillborn — a circumstance many can hardly imagine. Sadly, Valerie had to live through every mother’s worst nightmare.
After her son’s tragic passing, Valerie Watts struggled with what to do with Noah’s belongings. An entire nursery was ready for a baby who never made it home. For over a year, his room remained untouched. Then, the mourning mother finally had a yard sale, where she eventually agreed to sell the crib she had so anxiously hoped to use when she welcomed her son home — a reality that never came to be.
Originally, the crib wasn’t for sale, but when a man named Gerald Kumpula spotted it, he immediately asked Valerie how much she wanted for it. He had big plans for it without knowing the story behind it. With hesitation, Valerie finally agreed on a price and let go of the last physical reminder of her son. Soon, Gerald was on his way with her deceased son’s crib in hand, not knowing what had happened to the boy that the bed was meant for. However, before Gerald left, Valerie had told Noah’s story to Gerald’s wife.
While chatting with Valerie Watts, Gerald’s wife had asked how old her son was after seeing the crib and some tiny clothes at the yard sale. She was crushed by the truth. As the couple was on their way home with the crib, Gerald’s wife shared with him what Valerie had told her. He had simply assumed she was selling items her children had outgrown, but after hearing her story, he immediately knew what he was going to do.
Understanding how important the crib was to the grief-stricken mother, Gerald explained, “We decided on our way home that this [crib] was going back.” But, there was a twist when it came to his plan. Gerald was going to put his talents as a carpenter to use and make some changes since he realized it wasn’t realistic for Valerie to keep the crib in its existing form forever.
Instead, Gerald transformed the crib into a piece of furniture that could be displayed anywhere in Valerie’s home in memory of her son. Using his talent, Gerald took what was once an unused crib and a painful reminder, and he made it into a bench that honored Noah’s memory, giving it a new purpose — a place where Valerie could sit and feel close to the baby she had lost.
But, Valerie had no idea what Gerald was up to just a few miles away in the workshop that he had set up in his garage. That is until a week after the sale when, to her total surprise, Gerald was back at her home days after buying Noah’s bed. With him was the crib-turned-bench, and Valerie started crying the instant she saw the precious gift. “It’s fun to be able to do something,” a tearful Gerald told reporters, standing in the shop where he converted a heartbreaking memory into a heartwarming reminder for Valerie instead.
The crib, previously unused and a painful reminder of the loss of her son, was now a beautiful bench that could forever remain in her home — and heart. Needless to say, the grieving mother was very emotional over the beautiful gesture and the unexpected act of kindness from a stranger. “It’s amazing. And, there’s good people out there. There’s proof,” Valeria said, referring to Gerald and the bench he created for her.
There are many parents who unfortunately know how it feels to be in Valerie’s shoes. It’s a loss that’s hard to comprehend. No matter when the child is lost or how many years go by, the sorrow cuts deep. Finding comfort afterward is not an easy task, and those closest to the family who suffered such a tragedy even struggle to know what to do or say to offer support. It’s heartwarming to see a complete stranger take a chance to bring someone who experienced such grief some type of joy. But, Gerald succeeded, showing Valerie she isn’t alone and others do feel compassion for the pain she experienced. Indeed, there are good people out there, and Gerald is certainly one of them.