You’re Family!

11 03 2018

Years ago, we rented a very large house with another couple who had two small Rock _nchildren; we had the bottom and they had a 2nd floor. These two were just wonderful to be around, always happy. They had a genuine love for life, each other, their children and especially, their Lord. They were also a couple that never knew a stranger. Everyone they met they spoke encouraging words and always with smiles that just made their whole face beam. Truly an exceptional pair that we feel blessed to have known.

Down the street from where we lived was this gentleman, well up in the years, with some obvious physical limitations. He walked a slow pace with a cane, bent over at the waist and you could hear him wheezing with every breath he drew. On many occasions I spoke to the old man but he would ignore any comments, and for good reason as I learned later. Even though his home was just a few blocks from where we were it was a rough section of town. His door locks were broken so the house was always open. A group of rather rough kids would come into his house anytime they wanted and help themselves to whatever they wanted even at times stealing his social security check. He had no family and with no phone he couldn’t call the police when he needed to. He ate one meal a day brought in by Meal-on-Wheels. Occasionally he could get someone to take him for groceries or to the doctor, otherwise his time was spent in a solitary life.

One day the wife of the upstairs couple was taking her children for a walk and saw the man sitting on his porch. She called out a friendly greeting but he gave no response, just sat looking down. Most would have just walked on but as she would tell it there was a tug at her heart that she just needed to reach out to this man. Walking up on the porch, children in hand she kept up cheering words hoping and praying she could reach him. Finally looking up he saw her and the two-little tykes, and a smile came to his face. That’s all she needed. She put her tiny daughter on his lap and sat down next to him with her son. With that little girl crawling all over him, hugging his neck and then falling asleep in his arms, the walls he had put up around himself began to crumble. From that point on the family was down to “Grandpa Ben’s” as they called him every chance they had. The husband and a few of his friends fixed the door locks and other things that had become dilapidated around the house. They set up a bank account so his retirement checks were directly deposited and they made sure he got around to all the places he needed to go. They took him on family outings, included him in on holidays and special events like birthdays, and he never missed a Sunday going to church with them.

The day came when the husband who was working on a degree in college finished his studies and accepted a position back in his hometown in Ohio; he and wife knew what they had to do but weren’t sure how it was going to go. Having dinner that evening with Grandpa Ben, they broke the news that they would be moving away soon and he cried. His thinking that for the first time in years he had people that cared for him and he loved back and they were leaving him. Then the wife spoke up. “No Ben, you don’t understand. It’s not just us, we’re all leaving; we want you to come with us. We can’t leave you behind, you’re family!” And Grandpa Ben cried.

“True love in action is more than words, a feeling or a momentary act. It’s a lifetime commitment that you will always be there for that someone, just like Christ does for each of us.” J. David Miller

“Loving like Jesus means you must value others like Jesus values you.” Rick Warren.

Romans 12:9-10 New Living Translation: Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other.

On a warm summer morning, a wonderful couple we were so proud we got to know packed up their home in a large U-Haul to head to Dayton Ohio. The husband drove the van and his wife the car with the two children in the back, with a well-worn “Traveler of the Rock Road,” Grandpa Ben sitting next to her, a smile beaming just as bright as hers.  We never saw the family again, sadly we heard Ben passed away six months after their move; he went to be with the Lord surrounded by his loved ones. But weeks before his death a family portrait was taken that included everyone on both sides, with Ben sitting right in the middle. It hangs on their wall to this day.

This young couple could be called exceptional, big hearted and generous to someone else. But if you were to ask them, they’d tell you they only did what God did for them; love unconditionally.  Romans 5:8 – “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  And I’m sure if you spoke to the husband, wife or the children they would never tell about being a blessing to a lonely man. They’d tell you how blessed there were when God brought Grandpa Ben into their lives.  After all, he was family!

See ya next time.

 


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One response

12 03 2018
Beverly Crane

Oh what a heart felt story. I am sharing this with everyone I know. Thank you for sharing your memories John.

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