Why I Believe This
The November after my first birthday, Mom’s appendix burst, suddenly confining her to Paterson, NJ’s General hospital ward. “We’ll do our best,” the surgeon told Pop, “but your wife probably won’t survive.”
Pop headed to a local orphanage, and tried to convince its directors to admit his three sons and two daughters as residents. They declined on the grounds that even if Mom were to die, we still wouldn’t be orphans.
Pop trudged home to face five hungry children, aged one to fifteen. “The orphanage won’t take you. I can’t handle this.” Vowing to return only after the crisis had resolved itself, he abruptly deserted our tiny, second-story, slum flat. “You’ll all either freeze, or starve to death.”
His actions might have shocked the average person, but Pop’s mind couldn’t function the way a normal man’s might. When he was 25, he had suffered raging malaria fevers, severely damaging his brain, and reducing his intellect to that of a seven-year-old. Now, eighteen years later, he barely managed to hold a menial job in a textile factory. Without the additional income Mom earned on her job, he couldn’t afford to feed us.
Thanksgiving morning, my father’s offspring huddled around a kitchen wood/coal stove. For heating fuel, my eldest brother Ang had gathered coal that tumbled from freight cars onto the Erie Railroad tracks. We had not one morsel of food, or anybody who could cook.
At noon, someone knocked on our door, but departed before Ang opened it. There sat a cardboard box containing a banquet fit for royalty. The aroma of roasted turkey, dressing, yams, and gravy, greeted our nostrils.
I never learned what human source had dispatched this feast, but it lasted us until Mom recovered, and Pop returned home.
I believe the gracious provider of that life-saving nourishment would expect no less from me than to pass it on. I consider it a precious mandate to support valid causes that furnish meals for hungry children.
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