My parents set exemplary examples for their children. Among many the major standout was their generosity to others. It was not uncommon to have a bag of onions or a sack of potatoes laid at our back porch from the family that lived behind us. My Mom was always helping them out of a bind.
My sister had the brilliant idea of asking everyone invited to my parents 50th wedding anniversary to write some tribute or memory to be included in a large book she gave to them at the party. I was brought to tears reading the many letters of thanks for their benevolence and how they managed to change lives with their kindness.
Some of the best advice my Mom ever gave me was this, “Only lend money when you understand you are giving it away.”
I have a soft heart. I remember once asking my Mom what attributes she would assign to all us kids. Not that I remember what she said about the rest, but I have reflected ever since her assessment that I am the most compassionate of the lot.
When I am trapped at bottom of an off ramp within striking distance of a man (usually always a man) holding a sign stating “Have not eaten – please help” or “Will work for Food.” I will, most times, dig change from my ashtray and hand it over with this request, “Please do not buy alcohol with this” and one time, out of nowhere I handed over a $5 with this unsolicited advice, “Help Yourself!” I have no idea what came from! It just came roaring out of me from somewhere deep that also made me hand over that $5.
The coolest person I know is my brother in law, K. You know about coolness, some intangible essence that lays on the surface. Cannot be defined, cannot be duplicated, nor can it be imitated. It is or it isn’t. K has it. My sister Omega told the story how K. gives away all their cash to these Down on Their Luck Vagabonds and tells her, “Omega, you never know who really needs it!”
It makes me understand the irresistible urge to give. I guess it is Divine Intervention.
And so, when I met this young couple who so eagerly wanted to rent our home in Indiana last fall and I was so eager to rent it, I shooed away my reservations and decided to give them a break and lease the house to them.
I have paid for my kindness and tender heart ever since. Bounced checks, unanswered text messages, tears (mine and theirs), late rent payments, no rent payments, registered letters and demands for payment have finally culminated into them telling me they are going to vacate the property!
So I sit here both relieved and alarmed – the usual. I just hope I find another Professor or another Mexican that pays on time and keeps me from having a nervous breakdown.