"In the midst of my own meltdown she reached out with words of encouragement and a kind heart."

Cracker Barrel
Credit: Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Jamie Mathews Heustess was in tears as she left her local Cracker Barrel in Pooler, Georgia, last week—happy tears.

She had arrived at the restaurant with her husband, Chris, and their young son Ian. But Ian, who has autism, was in no mood for a meal at the bustling restaurant. After a long day of shopping and karate, he was tired and overstimulated. Not long after they arrived, Ian was in full meltdown mode. So Chris took Ian back to their house while Jamie stayed and ordered a to-go meal before joining them at home.

"After Chris and Ian left, our waitress came to ask if we were ordering," she recounts on Love What Matters' Facebook page. "This was probably her 5th or 6th time stopping by the table. I said ‘yes, a to go order, just for me.'"

The waitress asked if her husband or son wanted anything and Jamie explained to the waitress that her son had autism and had reached his breaking point.

"By this time I was crying and having a moment, not because I was embarrassed that my son is autistic, but because he is a good kid and I didn't want anyone to think he was just a spoiled kid being a brat," she recalled.

The waitress, who Jamie described as "gracious and sweet," told her not to worry, she would have her order ready in no time. Fifteen minutes later she reappeared with her food and a smile on her face. She told Jamie there was no need for payment—it had been taken care of.

"I started crying all over again," Jamie wrote. "I asked if she was sure and she reassured me it was taken care of, not to worry."

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When Jamie looked at the bag, she noticed that what she initially thought was a receipt, was actually a note from the server.

"Your child is amazing mommy," the note read. "Be strong, keep your head up. You are doing a great job. Have a great night. Your server, Kailyn."

The note now hangs on Jamie's fridge as a reminder of the kindness of strangers, and how even the littlest gesture can have a big impact.