Mother Teresa told this story in an address at a 1994 National Prayer Breakfast:
“One evening we went out, and we picked up four people from the street. One of them was in a most terrible condition. I told the sisters, ‘You take care of the other three; I will take care of the one who looks the worst.’ So, I did for her all that my love could do. I put her in bed, and there was such a beautiful smile on her face. She took hold of my hand as she said two words only: ‘Thank you.’ Then she died.”
“I could not help but examine my conscience before her. What would I say if I were in her place? My answer was very simple. I would have tried to draw a little attention to myself. I would have said, ‘I am hungry, I am dying, I am in pain,’ or something. But she gave me much more; she gave me her grateful love. And she died with a smile on her face.”
Gratitude brings a smile and becomes a gift.