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Monday, March 5, 2012

‘Compassion’ Is Also a Survival Skill

Original Article


oscar

So, let me start by saying that appearances can be very deceiving. Here is a little story that I have to share that will confirm what I just said about appearances being deceiving. As many of you are aware, Ken and I have recently moved. As we are getting settled, I think about what we’ve seen, such as foreclosed homes, closed churches, protests etc. It made me think of a dear friend that we left when we moved. His name is Oscar, Oscar the Grouch. Well, at least that’s what Ken and I nicknamed him before we actually even met him. Everyday, without fail, he would walk our neighborhood, making his rounds.

He became Oscar the Grouch because he never smiled and if you waved at him while he was walking the neighborhood, he would just give you a very stern stare…thus the grouch. He always had a sort of curmudgeon look about him.

One day, as I was leaving church after mass, it was starting to rain. I got in my car and as I was buckling in, I saw him approaching my car. My first thought was what was he doing here, this is 5 miles from our neighborhood and I knew he didn’t drive, he had to be in his mid eighties! I rolled down the window and he asked if I was going home. I told him that I was and I asked him if he would like a ride. I knew that he lived a block from our house. “Oh, yes, thank you.” he said and he got into the car. “My name is Oscar.” I told him that it was nice to finally ‘meet’ him and I told him that my name is Lauren.

That was our first drive together. After that we went to mass together every week for years until I became ill last year. I would pick him up and bring him home. And he would always have something for me, perhaps a jar of mustard, or a clay pot, or a zucchini he grew in his back yard, there was always something. It was his way of saying ‘thank you’.

As Ken and I got to know Oscar, we realized he was not a grouch at all. In fact, he is hilarious and rather wise too. He is 85 years old now and I remember talking to him about a year before the recession officially hit. He knew it was coming and he asked me if I knew what he was talking about. I told him things were only going to get worse. “That’s right, so you better stock up.” he said. I promised him that I would, even though we already were prepping. But he knew. He knew exactly what was going to happen because he lived through it during the depression. He is going to survive. Here’s why.

As time went on, I learned that when he went on his daily walks, he was working his ‘network.’ He knew almost every neighbor. And if he didn’t trade items with them, then he got some neighborhood news and gossip. Maybe the neighbor was a widow and once a week he would bring her trash out to the curb. He had the neighborhood working to his advantage. When he was ill, I would see neighbors bringing him plates of food. Oscar will survive!

Becoming Oscar’s friend showed me what showing your compassion can do for yourself. For surviving this economic garbage we are all dealing with, may I suggest showing a little compassion to some of you elderly neighbors. Or maybe even some younger neighbors too. Your neighborhood may have to stand together against rioters and looters. It might be nice to have them on ‘your side’. And the Big Guy up in heaven will know. :-) So next time you’re at the market and 5 lb. bags of potatoes are buy one get 2 free, think…can you give the two free bags to some of your neighbors?

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