Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Kind hearted lady

From the late 1800s through World War Two, hobos had signs to guide them through towns and country sides. Some let them know the water was bad, others warned of police or unfriendly residents. Some signs told them that the people would help them out. This sign, the cat, told the hobos that a kind-hearted lady lived in the house, and the hobos could expect food and shelter, and maybe a friendly face.

We used to joke that this sign was on our house on Harden Street in Columbia. People would walk past all of the other houses and knock on our door. My mother would give them money or food, depending on her assessment of them. One time a man came to the door and told her he was Jesus and he needed a ride to the bank for money. He explained that His Father would provide and all He needed to do was explain to the bank manager. I'm not sure how she determined where his Earthly parents were, but she gave him $20 and drove him to the Greyhound bus station.

Another time a girl had made a poor decision and ridden from Michigan with some friends. The friendship ended somewhere near our house at about 10 o'clock at night. Goodness knows how she found our house. Mom took her in. She called her parents, who wired her money, and mom put her on a bus to Michigan the next day.

She helped lots of people who came by the house. Some were disappointed to realize she remembered them, too. One man came by saying he needed money to get home to Charleston. She gave it to him. He came by the next week with another story. She cussed him out and called his family in Charleston. Sometimes people would ask for money, but she'd fix a sandwich instead. She wasn't opposed to drinking, but she didn't always feel like supplementing other people's bad habits.

My Mom, Marcia Tinkham Duffy, worked as a journalist and a political activist for better mental health, education, civil rights, women's rights, and a better life for all people. She worked on a large scale in her public actions and on a smaller scale in her private actions.

I believe that morality is action. I believe ethics are personal. I believe we can all be heroes.


annie kelleher said...

wow... what a wonderful woman you were lucky to have for a mother! im sure she had her faults, but there is nothing more amazing that a truly kindhearted person. sounds like you got the Great Mom card in spades! :)

Lydia said...

What a marvelous story about your mother. Her strength and goodness shine through your words. Thank you for sharing that with us.

Kim said...

what a great example for you, actions really speak