"Hey Mom...what are you doing?"
"I had to stop on my way to work to get gas. Hold on, Mandy. There's a couple with the hood of their truck up and all of their stuff out. I'm going to see if they're okay or if they need a ride into town." Mom put the phone down and I could hear her muffled voice, "Hi! Do you guys need any help?"
Muffled voices replied.
"Okay!" Mom laughed. "I was just checking." She got back on the phone with me, "They're fine," she said. "Just having breakfast."
"I'm so glad you're my mom."
"Because you and Dad are amazing. You're always willing to help people out. Not everyone is like that. It makes you very special."
Mom laughed again, "Oh honey! That's because we've been there!"
"For some reason, I think you'd do it even if you hadn't."
Do you know the saying, "he'd give him the shirt off his back"? That's the perfect description of my parents. No matter how little we had, my parents shared it with those who needed it. Food pressed into the hands of those who were lacking. Money, when they had it, given - not loaned - to friends and family. Clothes and toys found their way to young mothers with little ones.
When I was nine, my dad came home with a tiny runt of a puppy. On his way home, he saw a man throw a bag into the river. Stopping his truck, he jumped in and pulled out a little black and white bundle who was soon named Rudy, the best dog a family could have.
I remember my mom, on her knees, helping Mrs. Box, our 80-year-old neighbor, weed her garden, chatting the whole time. She gifted Mrs. Box with her time and, even more priceless, the gift of company.
There was the time a neighbor had an opossum under her house. My dad wandered over and, for the price of a piece of cake, crawled under the house and came out with a 'possum in his hand, releasing the "critter" into the woods.
There are countless stories of kindness. The funny thing is, they never once told us that this was something that we "need" to do. They just...did it. When we'd question or express frustration, Mom would just say, "I've been there." And that would be the end of it.
They never care what a person looks like - he could be dressed in rags or wearing a suit. They never judge if a person truly "needed" what they gave. They never drive past when they could help. And even though there have been times - a lot of times - when their generosity of spirit was taken advantage of, they never let it make them bitter. Friends are family and strangers are friends.
They do it without fanfare, without ever once saying, "Look what I
But the funny thing is...their daughters did
look. We saw, we witnessed and, as we got older, finally understood. We understand that kindness and compassion are free. We understand how important it is to not judge. We understand that generosity isn't always writing a check. Sometimes it's giving your time. Sometimes it's giving a listening ear. Sometimes it's giving a helping hand.
I can only hope that my children will learn as much from me as I have from my parents. There are some awfully big shoes to fill.