MILLVILLE, N.J. — Social media news feeds can be overwhelmed at times with stories of tragedy and pain, but occasionally there are uplifting tales of joy, happiness and inspiration.
Millville resident Tiffanie Miller unwittingly found herself in the middle of her own inspirational story — which has since gone viral on social media — the day after she embraced two strangers on the Atlantic City Boardwalk.
Miller was enjoying lunch with her three children and family friends at a boardwalk pizza place on Tuesday when she said she noticed a man “in his 60s or 70s” tending to his elderly father — a Korean War veteran who had trouble feeding himself.
“He’s feeding him, cleaning his mouth, and I need to go up to him and let him know it wasn’t going unnoticed,” Miller told The Daily Journal on Wednesday. “He said, ‘Thank you, this is what I need to hear to keep going.’”
The man — whose name Miller did not get — said he has been caring for his father for 15 years, and often welcomes the compliments of strangers who appreciate seeing demonstrations of dedication and love.
But what followed showed the power and reach of both compassion and social media promotion.
“We went back to eating and he came up to me and said, ‘This is a way I pay a compliment with a compliment — it’s a way for me to say thank you,’” Miller said, explaining how the man handed her a note. Written neatly on a napkin was “C.Y.H.”
It stood for "Consider Yourself Hugged," Miller said the man told her.
“With that I just had to give him a real hug, and I said, ‘You don’t know how much that made my day,’” Miller said.
After their emotional moment, Miller thanked the veteran for his service, finished eating with her family and left for home.
The site regularly features emotional accounts from people around the world who share their personal stories of struggle, triumph and compassion.
Love What Matters published Miller's submission Wednesday morning and it has since reached thousands of people, generated more than a hundred comments and over 10,000 likes.
“I didn’t know 4.5 million people follow it,” Miller said of Love What Matter's Facebook page. “I didn’t realize it would blow up.”
Many comments contained personal anecdotes similar to Miller’s, showing the reach of positive and inspirational stories.
“I think if more people put kindness out there, kindness would be everywhere,” Miller said.
On Instagram, where Love What Matters has more than 95,000 followers, Miller's story has been liked hundreds of times.
The napkin has since found a home on the Millers’ refrigerator, with Tiffanie anxious to pass the message down to her three children.
Miller’s 11-year-old daughter, Brianna, witnessed the boardwalk interaction and said she was used to her mom doing these kinds of things, but felt particularly proud and inspired this time.
“I thought, it’s nice to see things like this … with all of the things happening right now, there’s more good people than bad people out there, that’s what I believe,” Brianna said. “People need to feel that good inside of them.”
Follow Daniel J. Kov on Twitter: @DailyJournalKov