Two short related stories that surround my sweet mom-in-law.
Today there was a funeral for, George, who lost his mom at 4 years of age. His dad had no time to raise a son, so the boy was pawned off to strangers and more strangers until he bolted and at a very young age ‘rode the rails’ of the West Coast. He spent 20 some years hopping trains and sleeping behind warehouses and in brush and eventually he found his way out of that life, but the toll had been taken upon his mind. A dutiful man, he served his local church for many years and few really knew him beyond his eccentricities. He died this week and now his story surfaces.
This lead to my mom-in-law…a very generous woman…recalling a time they sought to comfort the disadvantaged. They went to a nearby ‘poor farm’ facility and there met a Mr. Helm. Bound to a wheelchair, and minus two legs, Mr. Helm was invited to my mom-in-law’s home for Thanksgiving Day dinner. My father-in-law, aware of Mr. Helm’s challenges, built a ramp to the porch so Mr. Helm could be wheeled into the house. There he met the large, boisterous family. After taking in the family and noise and energy, he wept.
Oh my they thought…too much noise? No, he explained. He had for years been alone and riding the rails up and down the West Coast. And, in fact, his legs were cut off trying to hop a train. He wept because in all his life he had never been in a home for such an event. For the next ten years Mr. Helm visited the family gatherings until he died much too young.
Such stories remind us to open our hearts and serve others.