Thursday, August 4, 2011
In his younger days, he worked a full-time night job at a tire factory. He came home early in the morning to his wife and three kids. He always made sure to spend time with them, never missing a school event, birthday, or holiday. Two nights a week and twice on Sunday, he delivered a sermon to the congregation he pastored. He was also the choir director, janitor, and handyman for the church. After services, he went home to change and pack his lunch. Then he headed back out the door for another night's work. The man rarely slept. He never complained. He didn't cheat on or leave his wife. He didn't abandon his children. He worked hard to provide as best as he could for those he loved.
This honorable man has been let down by some of the closest people to him. Two different men that he practically raised as his own sons have betrayed him in the most painful ways. I don't know how he survived these events or how he found the strength to face the next day.
Presently, he spends every waking moment taking care of an ailing wife who only recognizes him half of the time. He monitors her like a child to make sure she doesn't wander away. He patiently attempts to explain to her that he is her husband of 61 years and he looks different because he's getting old. He cooks and cleans for her. He takes her to a salon to have her hair washed.
And yet, he goes on. He complains very little; he just vents his frustrations occasionally about how difficult caring for my grandmother is. I look at all the people around me who complain about the smallest of things. Some people complain about every little thing in their lives. "How bad is it really?" I want to ask them. Maybe they should walk a mile in someone else's shoes today.
Today, I have the honor of cooking a meal for my hero. How many people can say that? I will take chicken, potatoes, salad, bread, and sweet tea up to his house where my parents will join us for dinner. I truly consider it an honor and wish I had the ability to do it every day. More than the food, he will appreciate the company and the conversation. My kids will get to spend another evening with their great grandparents. Maybe some day they will write a story like this about how their grandfather was one of the greatest men they ever knew.