Jamie-Lynne Knighten was at a Trader Joes grocery store in Carlsbad, California, on November 10th when she met someone that would change the rest of her life.
28-year-old Matthew Jackson noticed Knighten struggling to pay a $200 tab at the cash register with her baby crying in her arms. She had left her debit card at home, and her credit card declined thanks to an anti-fraud lock.
Knighten was on the phone trying to call the bank, when Jackson stepped up and asked if he could cover the cost. She first refused, but he asked again. When she looked into his eyes, Knighten said, she realized that he truly wanted to help.
“It just felt like this huge hug, this great big bear hug,” the married mother of two said.
Jackson said he wanted nothing in return; he simply wanted her to do the same for someone else. She agreed, but asked his name and where he worked, hoping to acknowledge his selfless act.
There has got to be some good to come of this. He would be happy to know that other people are learning from his example.
– LeeAnn Krymow, mother
A week later, Knighten called Jackson’s boss at LA Fitness, to ask if she could bring him a gift.
The gym manager began crying, because days earlier, Jackson was killed in a car accident — his Ford Fiesta struck a tree along a shopping complex at the end of West Vista Way, not far from the store where Knighten met him. Two passengers in the car were hurt but have since been released from the hospital.
The crash happened less than 24 hours after Jackson had paid Knighten’s grocery bill.
After a sleepless night, Knighten took to Facebook: “I still cannot believe it. I thought for sure I would get the chance to see him again, give him a hug and thank him at least once more in person. Now I won’t get that chance, but more importantly no one else will get the chance to meet him. And that breaks my heart.”
It turns out that Jackson didn’t make much as a fitness trainer – $200 was a lot of money for him.
LeeAnn Krymow, Jackson’s mother, says her son has always been the type of person to give you the clothes off his back. Recalling a similar story, Jackson and his mother stopped to get cold water on a hot summer day. Moments later, they stopped at a light when he suddenly jumped out of the car, ran over to a panhandler and handed his unopened bottle to the stranger.
“I knew my boy was like this,” Krymow said. “He loved to be kind. He was just a really special kid. So cute, so intelligent, so talented, an accomplished musician. You wonder why these things happen.”
Knighten, who is from Canada and had recently returned from a lengthy visit home, said she hopes to spread the word of what she calls “Matthew’s legacy.”
“There has got to be some good to come of this,” Krymow said. “He would be happy to know that other people are learning from his example.”