Saturday, November 10, 2012

Of Orphans, Widows, and Heroes

In light of recent happenings and the dreadfully frightful ramifications they portend for America’s future, I thought I would forsake commenting on politics for the time being and instead turn my focus to some of the good I see in the world on a personal level.  As I have written in the past, our materialistic world tends to uphold many celebrities and sports stars as its heroes.  My heroes are considerably different.  They are the ones that put themselves in harm’s way for other’s sake.  They are the ones that sacrifice for the good of others.  They are the ones that pray and try mightily to listen to God and then do His will, regardless of how difficult that may be.  Those people are my heroes. 

God tells the world in the book of James, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”  Some of my heroes have taken this to heart and have lived their lives accordingly in order to make the world a better place for others.  I wanted to share briefly the stories of three of my heroes specifically that have inspired me greatly and renewed my faith that there is great goodness still in this world today.

First, I met my friend Annie back in high school long ago.  She and her entire family are remarkably good God-loving people.  And they are sincere and strong in their faith as they try daily to live it.  Now Annie and her wonderful husband (who both are Portland Trailblazers fans like myself, I might add!) have taken in two girls as foster children into their home some years ago for a little while.  Those girls  benefitted from Annie’s loving home and eventually returned to their mother.   Annie already has a son and daughter which are now grown and living their faiths as strongly as their parents have.  That said, and I speak from experience, when one’s kids are grown and have left the house there is a certain quiet and comfortableness that overcomes one’s home.  While we miss our grown children, it is nice to have the house to just one’s self and our beloved spouse.  Many folks in such a position would be thankful and try to keep that peacefulness accordingly.  Not Annie and her husband.

Their sweet daughter met a young girl at camp this summer.  They each became very fond of one another.  Well, come to find out the girl has a younger sister also.  The sisters are in a foster home currently and have had a difficult life thanks to the neglect and drug use of their “parents”.  Anyway, over the course of the ensuing months, Annie and her family have discussed, thought about, and prayed continuously as to whether they should adopt these two young sisters in need of a loving home.  The fact that Annie and her family would put themselves through so much turmoil and distress in order to give these two girls a home that is safe and full of love is something that is so selfless, so caring, so loving, and so faithful to God that I am inspired and proud to count Annie as a friend.  I am sure these sisters will have some difficult times ahead, and thus so will Annie and her family that will care for them.  Years from now though, I am certain that these young girls will look back and be so grateful for the love and willingness that Annie and Chris showed by adopting them and bringing them into their family.  If only more people would follow Annie’s example for us!

Next, I had the great pleasure of meeting Marie nearly two years ago.  Marie lost her husband decades ago and had been living in her own modest home ever since.  Marie was a feisty lady and despite being severely diabetic, was still driving at the age of 92.  In fact it was due to her diabetes that I came to know her.  She was driving one day and her blood sugar was such that she blacked out and wrecked her car.  She broke her back because of this. 

Now Marie was not always the easiest person with which to get along.  Indeed she could be downright cruel and nasty to some people, especially in her own family, which brings me to my second hero.  Marie was blessed, and I do mean blessed in every sense of the word, to have a wonderful daughter named Lynn.  Lynn used to be a flight attendant and was always traveling accordingly.  The fact that her mother was getting older and was not in great health made Lynn consider her options.  Now Marie was often extremely critical of her daughter Lynn… painfully so.  That makes Lynn’s sacrifice all the greater in  my mind, because she gave up her autonomy and decided to work from home.  You see, Lynn’s home was attached next door to her mother’s which they purchased specifically so Lynn could help her mother.  Lynn sacrificed her own wants and desires in her life so that she could be next door to and take care of her cantankerous mother.  Lynn’s selflessness by putting her life on hold to care for her mother is inspiring to me.  This is how things used to be in America.  We used to take care of our elderly parents, even when inconvenient or even downright difficult.  Lynn’s selfless love for a mother that was not always seemingly grateful makes her a hero to me accordingly.

My third hero is my beloved wife.  My wife began work as an in-home care provider as a certified nursing assistant a few years ago.  When Marie broke her back in her car accident nearly two years ago, her daughter Lynn was no longer able to provide her mother the constant care that was needed.  My wife was asked to come take care of Marie and provide around the clock care for four days of the week.  After the first full shift there, with Marie being in ornery form, Lynn was surprised and grateful when my wife returned for her next shift.  Well, over the course of the next year, my wife and Marie became fast friends.  My wife’s love, patience, and perseverance with Marie paid off.  Marie softened her hardened demeanor.  She let her guard down and became the loveable person she always had kept inside.  Over the course of that year, my wife always ensured that Marie’s house was decorated for each holiday and was a constant friend and companion to Marie.  Indeed, we all went over to share a wonderful Thanksgiving Dinner with Marie, Lynn, and my family as we had grown very fond of Marie.  Last Christmas, my wife brought little Christmas presents during each of the final days in December and placed them in a stocking for Marie.  It was the highlight of Marie’s day to see what “Santa” had brought each day.  On Christmas eve, we once again all had Christmas dinner together and exchanged presents. 

In June of this year, Marie’s money that she had saved over the years finally ran out.  And while Marie’s son was fairly well-to-do, Lynn was not, and the son said that he was not able to financially provide for his mother.  That said, the only option was going to be to place Marie into a nursing home paid for by Medicare.  Marie was heartbroken and flat out stated that she would not live like that there and would refuse to eat accordingly.  She would end up dying within a week, if that was what was to become of her.  Well, after having spent the past year with her and coming to love her dearly, my wife was heartbroken that this was the only option.  My wife came to me and asked if we could move Marie into our home so that my wife could take care of her free of charge.  We discussed this and prayed about it and decided that this was the right thing to do.  Marie’s son was flabbergasted and couldn’t understand why anyone would do such a thing with nothing to gain by it.  My wife’s employer thought it was foolish and simply an over-attachment to the patient on my wife’s behalf.  No one could understand that my wife did this because she loved Marie and to not do so would be the same as to condemn Marie to death.

Now lest anyone think I am telling this for my own credit, let me assure you I am not.  I am a selfish person and very much appreciate my privacy.  I, like Marie’s son, would never have thought of such a thing on my own.  It was through the love and kindness in the heart of my wife that I simply could not deny that persuaded me.  Any and all credit for this loving act rests firmly with my beloved wife. 

Our Marie passed away early this last July.  She was happy and at peace when she left us, and Lynn, Marie’s son, and all those that had known Marie over the years agreed that this last year of Marie’s life was the happiest they had ever seen her.  Had it not been for my wife’s loving heart, we would have missed out on meeting such a wonderful lady as Marie truly was.  Marie added so much to our lives and we are all richer for having known and loved her! 

My beloved wife is my third and greatest hero accordingly! 

Annie, Lynn, and my wife all are wonderful and loving people.  Their selflessness and caring for others is a wonderful thing and something that is sorely lacking in today’s world.  They are true heroes.  They are my heroes.  And they all have made the world a better place by their love and kindness accordingly.  I thank and praise God for people such as these that seek to do His will!  Heroes.  All of them!


Just the Facts! said...

Mr. Paine,
If your wife has had her operation, how she doing?

T. Paine said...

JTF, she did indeed have her surgery in mid-October. She is healing nicely now. Thank you for asking!