Friday, February 13, 2009

What Are Friends For, Anyway?

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.


C. Beth said...

That's always been my favorite of his puns! And I love the way you told the story.

Liz said...

That would have made me pee my pants!!

Scriptor Senex said...


Loretta Davila said...

Good morning Sam. I know you agree with me that mercy just runs in our family! My dad (your mom's brother) just exudes mercy! Unfortunately, that was one of my parent's disagreements when I was young. Dad would go at less than a moment's notice, not stopping to think that my mom probably needed him more than anyone (they realize that now Praise God)! Our grandmother was the main one who called and it was a sad but true fact that my mom resented grandmother because of it. But I was, and still am, blessed by my dad's gentle giving nature and devotion to God. I also inherited that gene (or was given that Gift), and it gives me no greater pleasure than to be there for others in their time of need! I would have gone to give the enema and Mike would have absolutely NOT understood it!:-)) It is more of a blessing to my heart than to theirs I am sure! But, back to your mom. She (and your whole family) were my rocks as a young girl. Your mom would let Vicki, Cabby and I rummage in her clothes, wear her stockings, and most of all, allowed us to wear her black, fringed jacket! Course it actually FIT me even when I was a pre-teen! I remember malted milk (is there any milk that gets as cold as fresh milk?), and fresh butter on crackers! Your family is the best of my memories! I love you my cousin! Loretta :-)

Sam said...

Beth: is that what's called a pun? I thought it was just a Sean!

Liz: You're too funny!

SS: Thanks.

Loretta: Welcome aboard! You're words are balm. My greatest childhood memories are almost all about our families together.

I'll have Cathy call you the next time someone needs an enema!

addhumorandfaith said...

I believe in friendship and giving a helping hand, but I'm with Cathy on this one. I would have drawn the line at an enema!

And, I have to say, I do hate to see a good hearted person, like your mom, being used by someone like her neighbor, which is what this sounds like to me. But, I think it's wonderful it doesn't bother her.

Rachel Cotterill said...

I like to believe I'm a good friend who will do pretty much anything for someone who needs my help. But on the other hand, I have identified people in the past who only demand, never giving anything back, and I confess I can't stay friends with those people for long. Thankfully, in my life I've only known a couple of people who fit into that category.