A declined credit card, not enough cash to pay a $200 grocery bill, a long line of annoyed customers behind you, and a crying baby. It's enough to make most parents want to sink into the floor, and probably how Jamie-Lynne Knighten felt one night earlier this month at a Trader Joe's in Oceanside, Calif., as she tried to calm her 5-month-old and find her phone so she could call her bank, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. But then 28-year-old Matthew Jackson stepped to the front of the line and offered to pay for her haul. "It just felt like this … great big bear hug," Knighten says. After refusing Jackson's offer, Knighten eventually took him up on it, on the condition that she pay it forward when she had the chance. Knighten got his name and the gym where he worked, and tried to call him more than a week later.
But the manager began crying on the phone: Jackson had been killed in a car wreck less than 24 hours after he came to Knighten's rescue. "Why are the good people of this world taken too soon?" Knighten wrote in a Nov. 20 Facebook post. "He was a year younger than me and engaged to be married." Jackson's mom, LeeAnn Krymow, says her son's good deed exemplified his spirit, even when he was a child. "He loved to be kind," she tells the Union-Tribune. Knighten has set up "Matthew's Legacy" Facebook and Twitter tribute pages to "honor a one in a million man by spreading hope and kindness to everyone we meet." Krymow is glad for the way her son will be remembered. "He would be happy to know that other people are learning from his example," she says. (A mom trying to help a crash victim fell to her own death.)