Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Pearl 15: Never, EVER, Abuse Another Person, EVER!

Dear Gehrig and Eliana,

Good afternoon, my darlings.  Just three more weeks and Granny and I will be back to visit you for TEN WHOLE DAYS.  That may be just enough time to spoil you really good before we have to return to Texas

Your great Aunt Sandy, my sister, and I lived too far from our grandparents and people didn’t travel as often as they do these days so we didn’t get a proper spoiling by our grandparents when we were your age or even older.  Granny and I have to right that deficit.  So I hope your parents will forgive us if we unleash our pent up grandparental love on you guys.

I was thinking about my father, your great grandfather Smith the other day.  I am sad that he did not survive to see you both as I know he would have loved you as much as we do.  He was a kind and gentle man with strong ethics and firm principles. 

I remember one time when I was about 7 years old.  My sister, who was only 13 months older than me) and I were arguing about something (I was probably teasing her, as I was wont to do), and she hit me on the arm.  My dad was in the room but he didn’t see the first blow.  All he saw was my retaliatory punch to my sister’s stomach.  Dad was out of his chair in the wink of an eye, which wasn’t all that easy for this 5’ 6”, 250 pound overweight man in his late 40’s.  He grabbed my arm as I was about to throw another punch and spun me around.  He got his bright red face down close to mine and said, in a measured voice which left no doubt as to how serious he was, “I never, NEVER, want to see you EVER hit a woman again, EVER!”   I nearly lost control of my bladder but then my father got down on one knee and looked me in the eyes and explained why a man should never hit a woman, in the stomach or any other place.  He told me that God made men stronger than women not so we could dominate them but so we could protect them.  His tone was firm but gentle and I listened.

Several years later, when I was about 12 years old, our family went out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants, Anderson’s, home of the famous Split Pea Soup.  There was a young couple, probably in their late twenties or early thirties, at a table not to far from ours.  They were arguing about something and you could tell he had been drinking.  Even though I couldn’t hear what they were saying I could see it upset my parents.  When we were leaving, the couple left just ahead of us.  There were two parking areas outside the restaurant, one high and one down a little hill on a lower level.  The couple headed for the lower lot and our car was in the upper lot.  They were screaming at each other and the man kept trying to grab the woman’s arm.  She kept trying to get away.  Dad told us kids to ignore it as it was none of our business.  But then, all of a sudden, the man, who was over six feet tall, spun the much shorter woman around, pushed her up against their car and the sound of him slapping her face rang out in the night.

I was stunned to see that but even more stunned to see my father dash across the parking lot and down the hill toward the couples car.  He made it there in time to grab the arm of the man as he reared back to hit the woman again.  Despite the fact my dad was 8” shorter than the man and easily 25 years his senior, my dad got up into the man’s face and I heard these same words again, “I never, NEVER, want to see you EVER hit a woman again, EVER!”  The man was so shocked he just stammered out agreement and my dad looked to the woman and asked if she was alright.  She said she was and he ushered her to the passenger side and opened the door for her.  “Take her home and mind what I told you”, my dad said to the man as he started back up the hill to our car.   Which brings me to my fifteenth pearl.

Fifteenth Pearl:  “Never, EVER, abuse another person, EVER!”

Now you might think this only applies to you, Gehrig, but Eliana, it goes for you too.  Physical abuse in our country today is more prevalent than ever.  It is a sad situation.  Men physically abuse women but, sometimes, women are even guilty of abusing men.  And physical abuse is only part of it.  Mental and emotional abuse is part of the mix.

We all have both the capability to abuse and the capacity for great compassion.  God gave us the gift of the latter but the former we learn ourselves.  One breeds hate and despair, the other promotes and encourages love.  The Golden Rule says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  It is a paraphrase of the commandment Jesus left with us to “Love thy neighbor as thyself”. 

Watch your parents and learn from them.  They are full of great compassion. I hope you will both grow up to be compassionate, empathetic humans, like your parents, who always treat others as you would like to be treated.  It is my hope that neither of you ever know the desire to strike or harm another person.  Besides, kissing and hugging is a lot more fun anyway.

I love you bunches and bunches,

Grandpa Jud

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