GOING THE SECOND MILE
In 1960, my dad, unbeknownst to him, taught me a lesson about going the second mile.
In 1960, my parents and I moved from the small rural community where we had lived for many years into “town,” Terre Haute, Indiana. No Allied Van Lines or Mayflower movers. It was the John and Larry movers.
Dad and I pulled up to the front of the new house. We had taken only a few steps from the truck when the neighbor lady on the north side of our house came to meet us. My first thoughts were, oh here comes one of them, “Welcome to the neighborhood,” Mr. Rogers types. I don’t know if Mr. Rogers had a wife or girlfriend, but it became very evident she was not it, and she was not there to welcome us to the neighborhood either. Her first words: “You better not be planning on getting’ that truck on my property.” Bingo, that was it. She went back and then stood on her porch to watch.
What followed did not make this 18 year old very happy. So instead of backing the truck closer to the porch my dad said that we would have to unload the truck from the street. The “welcome wagon” lady stood on her porch and made sure we did not cross her yard to back the truck up to our porch. I still think we could have done such and not have been on her precious property, but we then started unloading the truck from the street, easily adding 75 feet to each trip of the unloading process. I was not happy!
My parents lived there for the next fifteen years. Over the continuing years, this neighbor proved to be somewhat of a “busy body.” She once called the humane society to report that my dad was mistreating his prize beagle hound (ol’ Sport) for keeping Sport in a doghouse near the garage on our property. My dad mistreat Sport? Come on, lady. My dad treating a hunting dog badly? Get real. That pooch had a good life.
In January of 1975 I was standing on a basketball court involved in a high school basketball practice in Frankfort, Indiana when I got the call that my dad had passed away. His lengthy bout with cancer had ended. A few hours later, I pulled into the alley driveway of my parent’s home. As I started from my car to the back porch, the first person to meet me was this neighbor lady. As she was walking toward me, I wondered, “What now?” She had never been my favorite personality on our street. As she got closer, I could see she was crying, then she put out her arms, hugged me, and I remember her words: “Your dad was a good man. He was the best neighbor a person could ever have. I’m so sorry. He was so kind to me.”
I think there is a book that talks something about going the second mile in some situations - about giving up your shirt, etc. My dad had taught that lesson, not only to me, but to the neighbor lady. “He was a good man. He was the best neighbor a person could have.”
Going the second mile often is not much fun and the rewards for such are often late in coming, and sadly, sometimes never received by the ones who gave up their shirt.
March 10, 2011