Be kind. Two words. My mom and dad lived by. “Treat others as you would want to be treated,” Mom often said, followed by, “You reap what you sow.” They never failed to take someone in if they were down on their luck. An extra place or two was always set for the folks that stopped at our door. And even if they weren’t hungry they insisted on fixing a meal for them.
When I was growing up we lived on a farm with a railroad a quarter mile south of our place. Hoboes knocked on the door during the forties as men hitched a ride on the train looking for work. Mom would answer the door to strangers, but she was protective of us if Dad was working, a butcher knife tucked behind her. The hoboes asked for food saying, “I’m hungry,” and she gave them a loaf of bread before sending them on their way. Every Sunday dinners were consumed by all the aunts, uncles and children along with anyone else they brought. It wasn’t unusual to have twenty to thirty people eating at the picnic tables under our shady walnut tree. Mom never complained as she fixed fried chicken, mashed potatoes and whatever was growing in the garden she raised or vegetables she had canned.
Mom and Dad weren’t much for small talk or “telling tales” as they called gossip. Another often repeated refrain of theirs was, “Don’t be getting above others.” They lived those beliefs religiously.
My brother-in-law died a long, slow death from Multiple Sclerosis. For over twenty years, my husband took him deer hunting when he could only hunt with his eyes, unable to lift his hands. They sat in a deer blind together for hours making quiet talk, mostly my husband as his brother lost his ability to talk. My husband often patted his brother’s knee gently, clasped his shoulder with tenderness, spelled words waiting for his brother to nod yes or no, wipe the drool from his lips, rearrange pillows to prop his head up, tell him jokes, cover him with a blanket, and read stories to him.
I believe be kind should be the first words we learn and live by.
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