When I was about 13 and my brother 10, our father promised to take us to the circus. But then at lunchtime there was a phone call--some urgent business that required his attention downtown--and we braced ourselves for disappointment. But then we heard him say, "No, I won't be able to come down. It's going to have to wait."
He came back to the table and mother smiled, "The circus keeps coming back, you know."
"I know," he said, "but childhood doesn't."
After all these years I remember that moment. And I knew from the sudden glow of warmth that no kindness is ever really wasted or completely lost. Because the only thing you take with you to heaven is your family.