From Chicken Soup for the Father & Son Soul


Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver.

Barbara De Angelis

For thirty-three years, heritage was just a word. It meant dead relatives I had never met.

My wife and I both grew up with fathers who earned their living in the construction trades. It was natural that we decided to build our own home. We were naïve enough to believe that meant something.

Linda’s father lived fifty miles away and was fighting the later stages of cancer. Fortunately, my dad was an almost-constant working foreman at our job site. Even with an on- and off-site advisor, our building progress bore a resemblance to a turtle taking a bath.

Three months into our home-building program, Linda became pregnant with our second child. We were paying rent and making mortgage payments. We were spending virtually every night and every weekend at our new home while my mother cared for our son. Six months into this killer routine, both Linda and I caught the flu. We needed relief. We decided to spend money we didn’t have to spare to hire Don Cronk to spackle our sheetrock.

Don did in less than a week what would have easily taken us six weeks to complete. We were delighted to have the work done so quickly, but we feared the inevitable invoice. When he handed us that dreaded reality, we were shocked. The bill was only a fraction of what we anticipated.

“Don, this can’t be right,” I said. He assured me that it was, but it was such a low number Linda and I pressed the issue.

“When I was down and out, your father was the only contractor who would give me work. I can’t do anything for him, but I can give you this job at my cost,” he said. My heritage suddenly hit me like a 250-pound linebacker. I hadn’t done anything to deserve this good deed. My father earned the favor that I received.

I inherited a good name. That good name gave me a head start in life. I was the beneficiary of goodwill because my dad spent his life being an honest man who was in the habit of doing good deeds.

Today heritage is more than a word to me; it is a lifestyle. My children and grandchildren deserve an unbroken chain of goodwill. They deserve the same family legacy I took for granted until Don Cronk’s putty knife scraped away my blindness.

Ed VanDeMark

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