I have long been intrigued by the ability of some people to place
uplifting seeds into the hearts and minds of those around them. For me this becomes particularly impressive when I see the seeds bearing fruit in future generations. This morning I spoke with Florence. For many years, she and her now-departed husband Abe, have been members of the Fraser Valley Breakfast Group Linda and I belong to. I asked for permission to recount several anecdotes from her family. She agreed readily and mentioned a piece of the family story I had not been aware of. This is where I will begin.
For many years Abe’s father Henry operated a small roofing business. Henry was of my parents’ generation and like them, an individual I respected highly for his integrity. Florence told me there had been times when his customers were not able to pay for the work he had done. Rather than harassing them for the money, Henry chose a more compassionate response. He forgave the debt. As a young man, Abe worked with his Dad and was aware that at times this happened.
Henry’s example evidently influenced his son. Abe was a large man with a bearing, voice, attitude and wisdom that brought him respect and credibility. On one occasion he and Florence and several friends were in a restaurant. Abe’s attention was drawn to a family at a nearby table. The children were well behaved, but the parents faces revealed tension. Troubled by this, Abe got up and approached the family.
“I just want to tell you,” he said in his deep, gentle voice, “ I’ve been observing your children. I see they are respectful and well behaved. You must be very good parents.” Surprised, the couple looked up at the big man who had unexpectedly appeared at their table. The tension in their faces eased, and their bodies relaxed. They smiled and the man said, “thanks for your encouraging words. It’s good to hear we’re doing something right.”
When the husband of their daughter Marlys walked out of the marriage and family, Abe and Florence sold their condo and moved in with her. She needed to work to support her family. The children were young and she couldn’t leave them alone. Financially, selling their home was a sacrifice, since it took them out of a rising real estate market. For them, the investment in family was more important.
When Marlys was about to get married again, her fiance Ron recognized and valued what her parents had done. He felt deeply impressed. He said to Marlys, “your parents really stepped up to
the plate in a big way when you needed their help. I’d like to do something to thank them. Let’s take them along on our honeymoon cruise.” Surprised, she agreed. Since then she has said to Ron several times, “I still can’t believe we took my parents along on our honeymoon.” It was a pretty unique and impressive way of saying “thanks Mom and Dad.”
Ron has since continued this pattern of thinking positively and blessing people. Recently he and Jim, a co-worker, walked across the street to a casino during their lunch break from work. Ron’s idea was to have lunch and also a little fun. For him the “little fun” resulted in winning $70. Jim lost $60. Ron bought lunch, costing $10. He wanted to give the remaining money to Jim. He knew, though, he wouldn’t take it. Handing the money to Jim, he asked him to hold it for a minute. Then he said, “we went here for lunch and to have some fun. Our idea wasn’t to earn money. We do that on the job. Today I won $70 and bought lunch for both of us. Now I still have the $60 left, which I really don’t need. You lost $60. If I give you my $60, we will have had some fun and a nice lunch, and it hasn’t cost us anything”. Jim accepted this logic and gratefully pocketed the money.
In his roofing business and elsewhere, Henry demonstrated to his son a generous way of dealing with people. Abe and Florence lived by the same principle. They passed it on to their offspring and others. It would be interesting to know how many future generations will be impacted by Henry’s example.