Legendary musician Johnny Cash’s daughter Cindy promised she would never tell people about the act of kindness she witnessed one snowy December day while she was riding in the car with Cash.
But time changes things. And when Cindy sat for interview on the REELZ special “Johnny Cash: Road to Redemption,” she shared the story in the hopes that it would give people a better understanding of Cash.
It all started when Cindy and her father were driving along and noticed a man rolling up a sleeping bag by a bridge in front of them.
Johnny Cash’s Act of Kindness
When they saw the man, Cash stopped the car. He told Cindy, “You stay here.” Then he got out of the car.
“And he started walking towards that man,” Cindy recalled, according to Radar Online. “Dad said, ‘Where are you headed?’ And he said, ‘I’m headed home to spend Christmas with my wife and my kids.’ [Dad] said, ‘How many kids have you got?’ And the man said, ‘I have three little girls.’ [Dad] said, ‘What are you doing walking?’ He said, ‘Well, I’m hitchhiking home.’ And Dad said, ‘I don’t think you’re gonna get there by Christmas.'”
Cindy claimed they had just swung by the bank when they came across the man. So she says she knew how much money Cash had in his pocket: $1,000.
“[Dad] pulled out all the cash he had in his pocket,” she continued. “And he gave it to this guy. And he said, ‘Get you a bus ticket. It’s too cold to walk. And don’t forget to buy your babies some presents.'”
When Cash got back in the car, he turned to Cindy and said, “Shhh.”
“And I never did tell anybody until now,” Cindy concluded.
Cash’s Children Remember Him As Flawed But Good
Cash died in Nashville in 2003. He was 71. The musician had abused pills over the course of his life. But he died of complications from diabetes.
Cash had continued to record music even as his health went downhill during the 1990s, according to Robert Hilburn, author of “Johnny Cash: The Life.” Music was his redemption, Hilburn said.
“Johnny Cash was a good man,” Hilburn told NPR in 2013. “He tried to live up to his faith. It was just difficult. He struggled, and that was the great drama of Johnny Cash.”
But Johnny Cash’s kids, including Cindy, remember his better moments as well as the darker ones.
“And I think John Carter, his son, said it best,” Hilburn added. “He said, ‘My dad’s life was a struggle between darkness and light, and in the end, the light won.'”