Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pay It Forward

Too much death lately.  Not trying to exclude the horrific realities that leads to premature death in the world, but I'm primarily thinking about the loss of those with whom I walked, talked, related to, learned from, and loved.

Catherine Ryan Hyde wrote an international best seller several years ago entitled Pay It Forward.  It was subsequently made into a movie.  The story is about a twelve-year old boy who takes on a social studies assignment about how to change the world.  His idea is to pass on a good, helpful deed to three people and then ask each one of those persons to do the same for three other people.

Gerald Grant paid it forward as well as anyone I've ever known.  And he didn't  just do it to three people unless you think in terms of about three people EVERY DAY.  I only heard him say the words a couple of times, but I know that the driving force in his life was to "do all I can to help my fellow human being."

He didn't come by it naturally.  Like anyone, he had his own struggles, but he overcame and pressed on.  Maybe it was out of those struggles that he developed a sensitivity to make a difference in human life.

He, and a couple of his buddies, were always fast to show up whenever a need was announced.  It might be to respond to a maintenance problem at the shelter, work needed at the church building, the repair of a basic necessity at the home of a widow, or all kinds of things that most of us never knew about.  When called, I never picked up a sense of hesitancy or resistance about coming to do what needed to be done.  He just came.......and almost always, quickly.

We lost Gerald the middle of February.  I miss him.  When the thought of him crosses my mind, which happens more regularly than I can describe, it is not so much couched in the memory of sadness but in the memory of good conversation and glad encounters.

At his funeral I referred to him as one of the few "great" people I had ever known.  Some might think that was a stretch because he, like all of us, certainly had feet of clay.  But I stand by that assessment.  His greatness came in a choice to humbly position himself last and put others, and whatever was happening with them at the time, first.  He took the time and had the willingness to pay it forward.

1 comment:

  1. Not many a day goes by I don't recall Gerald, who was for me the "man in blue" for his trademark blue shirt. Humble yet strong in his resolve to serve and as you so well captured it, "paid it forward". Yes he was a great man. Thanks for the thoughts.