Years ago I began a tradition of giving back for each holiday we celebrated. One Christmas during a particularly prosperous time in our country, I was shocked to find that there was a “shortage” of in need families. I began to think about who else needed help around the holiday. We always think of kids at this time of year and it came to me that there are many lonely adults as well. I was able to get the name of some individuals needing some Christmas cheer of one kind or another.
One for a “gentleman” named John. John was a particularly vile individual, who lived in what amounted to two rooms of his rather large house.
He was not able to get around and he survived on delivered pizza of which he had a hoard of boxes stacked everywhere. Myself and another volunteer went over and cleaned up his house, it was horrible and he yelled the whole time we were there. He was living in horrid conditions and we just kept on working through out his objections until the place was spotless.
I had also brought in some decorations which I carefully placed and hung through out his space to bring in the spirit of the season. Instead of a thank you he simply made a rude comment about hating the decorations. I knew the doctors had been trying to get him on his feet more so I told him, if he didn’t like them, he was more than welcome to take them down himself.
I returned several days later, on Christmas Eve with a few small gifts for John, hoping he had calmed down a bit. He wouldn’t open the door. So I left the gifts with a note containing my name and number on the front porch.
A few days after Christmas we received a call he needed a favor, small but we obliged. Then there was another favor and another. Finally one day we realized he was mostly lonely, his wife had passed, he had no children and his extended family was gone as well. We invited him to come stay with us for a week as he recovered from a medical procedure.
John lived with us for 30 years. He became a central figure in our family and everyone called him Uncle John. He divided his time between our home and days spent at the Senior Center in town (with his “girlfriends”).
When John passed many years later, we put up collage of him with family pictures. We all giggled as his friends from the community looked at the pictures and talked about his kids and Grandkids. John had adopted them all in his mind over the years and would speak with great pride about each and every one of kids and grandkids as if they were his flesh and blood.
John went from a vile, mean, bitter, old man, to a loving, happy and doting “grandfather” in just a few short months. He spent the balance of his life surrounded by a family who was there for him till the end and mourns his passing to this day.
Uncle John, we miss you and more importantly, we all still remember you. – Darah ❤
An extra note:
I will always remember the overwhelming change in John and it was at that point that I realized that a lot of people we think are just mean and nasty, are actually hurting inside and just need to now they are loved and needed.
No-one should have to feel that alone. Poor John, he went from a lonely existence to a family with 4 married kids and 13 grandkids within 5 miles of his house. He never had another moment to himself as long as he lived, and all the grandkids loved him. We’re so very sorry to lose him to cancer several years ago, but he did get his wish to not die alone in a hospital or some facility. We kept him home to the very end and we were all there for him. – Darah