A Porch of My Own

A Porch of My Own

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

My mom and dad taught us many things but the one thing we learned mostly by example was to help others.  My dad was a plumber and worked long hours almost every day of the week. He loved his job and would often go out on holidays or weekends whenever he got a call. He could have been well-off financially except that he helped so many people. I don’t know how many times he would tell me about doing a repair or putting in a new hot water heater for someone and not charging them. He would say “you know, sweetheart, that lady was old and had no money, so there was no way I could charge her.”

My mom started college after her eighth child was born. She worked full time while going to school plus had the duties of being a parent. It took her ten years but she got her degree. For some years she taught school then decided she would rather follow her minor and be an accountant. I think with all of us kids at home, she was ready for a break from kids at work!

My parents worked, raised seven children (one of my brothers died when he was 3 days old), and raised 1 grandchild and helped raise another grandchild. My cousin came to live with us when I was in high school and they welcomed him as their own child. Mama’s parents also lived with us and she did all the things associated with parents that don’t drive, such as doctor’s appointments, shopping, etc.

Mama was always helping someone, giving people money to pay their bills, taking food to someone that was sick. At the holidays she would stay up late after working all day and bake candy and cookies to take to others, along with barbecue or a roast.  Anytime anyone called her for help, she did. Daddy stopped on the road to change tires for people and worked on anyone’s car if they asked him to help them. The ways they helped others are too numerous to list. And I should point out, it's easy to help people by giving them money when you have plenty. But when you have to do without something to help them, that's when it's a real gift.

Daddy hired many young men and trained them. He treated them all as family. Daddy developed macular degenerative disease in his last years and was legally blind. For a while he continued to work and had Mama drive him to the job site. She would then either stay with him or one of the guys working for him would be there. Eventually his eyesight got so bad he couldn’t continue to do this. He always worried about what would happen to the people with no money in his town. He said the other plumbers would not work without charging them.

Without doubt some of the people my parents helped did not deserve it. And certainly they helped people that did not work as hard as they did. But they never worried about that. If someone was drowning, they did not say “well, you should have taken swimming lessons when you had the chance” or “you should have built a bridge over this water when you had some extra money instead of spending it foolishly”. They just reached out a hand and pulled them in.

I have seen my siblings and my children and nieces and nephews do the same. I know that Mama and Daddy would be proud of us. I am saddened to see so many people, even doctors who take an oath to help, complain about helping others. They only want to help people they consider deserving of help. But my parents taught us it was not up to us to judge who was worthy. It was only to judge who was in need.

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