My mother is and always has been very sincere, consistent, and honest in her convictions. I have learned much from her good advice. One thing she always quoted though was actually the words of my grandfather – her father-in-law, who I never met, but has always lived in a large legendary portrayal in my memories because of my mother.
My grandfather came to America when he was 12 (actually he first stopped in Battery Park and not Ellis Island because they had had a fire.) How he survived – I really have no idea; but somehow he eventually became to be a farmer mostly of eggs and seeds in New Jersey. With his first wife and many children he made it his business to take care of any landsmen back in Europe to be able to come to the USA. This meant he actually had to commit in supported them until they were on their feet. Apparently he brought in 12-15 families; who all called him ‘Pop’. My father was the only child of my grandfather’s second wife and was the one who took care of him when he grew old.
When he was dying he told my mother, “When you have food on the table, a roof over your head; go out and help others.”
My mother has lived up to that dictum. (If I began to tell the stories of the strange people who inhabited my home – it would be a lengthy novel.) She chose to be a social worker helping people find suitable, affordable housing; by matching people with homes who couldn’t afford them with young single moms who needed a place to live. (This was only one of the many jobs paid and volunteer that my mother has been involved with).
It is something I don’t feel I have lived up to; but I totally admire and wish I could. But at the very least I keep it as a goal and a way of life which I hope that I have been able to pass down to my kids.