My mom has the gift of mercy. She pours her life into helping people in need. Her idea of helping is very hands-on. If one of the people in her Senior Adult park needs a ride, a listening ear, or a prayer -- she's there! That was the scene a few years back when we visited mom in Albuquerque.
Mom told us about a lady in her park named Margaret. Margaret had been calling mom about her needs. Her problems were so constant that even my mom couldn't keep up with them. Mom told us that she was at the end of her rope with Margaret, but she was still concerned about this poor woman who seemed to have few other options left -- except my mother.
That is, until the day Margaret called my wife. Mom and I had run an errand and Cathy stayed at the house. The phone rang. "Kitty? I need you." Her voice was pleading.
"No, this is her daughter-in-law Cathy. Kitty isn't here right now."
"Well, can you come over? I live close by, here in the park. I need a ride to the hospital."
"I'm sorry, but I don't have a car here."
"You can drive mine," Margaret said.
"I'm not comfortable driving in Albuquerque," Cathy told her honestly. "You should call the paramedics."
"They won't come. And I know what I need. I need someone to come here and give me an enema." (This story is true!)
At this point, Cathy -- who doesn't have the gift of mercy -- said, "I have never given anyone an enema in my life and I'm not about to start with someone I don't even know!"
To which Margaret cursed at her and said, "I guess I'll just die then!" (She didn't.)
Months later back in Arizona, our family had gathered from far and wide for a graduation. As we sat in our dining room, Cathy started telling the story of Margaret in Albuquerque. The entire family was howling with laughter.
All except one. Our son had tasted the bitter rejection of unkind words when he was a kid in school. As a man, his heart splatters with compassion. He listened to his mom's story in silence. After our laughter quieted, he spoke. Seriously. Haltingly. Sadness in his eyes.
"It sounds like what Margaret really needed was a friend..." His pause jerked us into sadness until he finished, "...and not an enema."
I think some of us were rolling on the floor.