Learning to Share

Learning to Share

From Chicken Soup for the Soul Celebrating People Who Make a Difference

Learning to Share

Shared joy is joy doubled. Shared sorrow is sorrow halved.

Source Unknown

Sharing was an important lesson I learned at an early age. Whether it was a favorite toy, room at the dinner table for someone less fortunate, or a little extra change in the Sunday collection plate, it became part of the family consciousness to share. Even when we didn’t have much, it was reinforced in me how there were others in worse situations than we were.

My grandparents, L. and Moma, were born in separate small Southern towns in the early part of the twentieth century. Because they were raised in such small communities, they had a closeness to their neighbors one could never experience in a city. And because they were raised with such a strong faith, they were always mindful of the blessings they had and were willing to help those in the community who were in need.

Even after my grandparents moved to San Diego in 1947, those small town influences were present. They permeated every aspect of my grandparents’ lives. If someone was ill, off their feet, and couldn’t care for themselves, Moma could be counted on to bring one of her specialty meals, capped off with a healthy slice of homemade pound cake, and help them attend to any business.

If someone needed a ride to church, my grandfather would always make time for that. “Here, take this,” the rider would say while handing a few dollars to my grandparents. “Now, you put that away,” Moma would say with a wave. I never saw them take anything. It just wasn’t their style.

Over the years, there were many, many people my sister, Cheryl, and I made room for in the backseat of the ever-present station wagon. Each person had his or her own unique situation. Each was grateful for my grandparents’ generosity. But there was one passenger who seemed always to have a reserved seat.

Carl was confined to a wheelchair. He had no means of transportation. We often noticed him wheeling himself down the street in various parts of town. There were times when all we could see was his silhouette and the reflectors on his chair as he made his way down the dark street. As usual, we would pull over and load Carl up and drop him at his destination, wherever that might be. Whether we were on our way to church or another destination, my grandfather would pull the station wagon over, place Carl’s wheelchair in the back, gently place Carl in the car, and head up the road.

Carl couldn’t speak very well, and it was hard for me to hide the fact that I couldn’t understand what he was saying. To me his words seemed like grunts and garbled sounds. But my grandparents appeared to understand him because they would hold a conversation with him the entire time he was in the car. After riding with him more and more, I started to pick up on what he was saying. Not every word, but just enough.

Eventually, we would reach Carl’s destination. Sometimes it would be church and we would all get out together. My grandfather would help Carl up the stairs and we’d all enter the sanctuary together. Sometimes it would be another destination and my grandfather would help him out of the car; we’d all bid Carl farewell and be on our way. As I got older, I helped my grandfather with the wheelchair. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but I was learning a valuable lesson without a word being said.

“Thank . . . you,” Carl would say as we placed him in his chair. Every time I saw the gratefulness in his eyes, it touched something in my heart that I still remember today.

Lawrence D. Elliott

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