Free Press Archives
ACTS OF LOVE ARE SMALL
Let me tell you a short story that will make you feel better about
helping Haiti or any little things you are sometimes able to do for
When my mother’s health broke she said to me, “Son, I want you to do
something for me. It may not seem to you to be a big thing but it will
be a big thing to me.”
She went on to tell me how a girl was disowned by a man in her family
because he thought she was the result of his wife’s adultery. Bacause
the father disowned her, others in the family took no interest in her.
Mother decided that there was no such thing as an illegitimate child.
With her Cherokee eyes flashing, she said, “There may be illegitimate
parents whose behavior is unworthy, but all children are beautiful and
Mother visited the child when she was small, took her gifts, and started
writing to her when she moved to Missouri at an early age. She wrote to
her until her own final hospitalization.
Then mother asked, “Will you please continue writing to her when I die?
She was so emotionally damaged when she was a child that she will
continue to need extra love and support the rest of her life.” Mother
gave me her address and I promised to continue correspondence with her.
The day I came home from mother’s funeral, there was a letter in her
mailbox from the lady. Chills ran up my arm as I saw the return address
on the envelope. It was powerful confirmation of my agreement with my
mother. I have honored that agreement and it has been a good experience
The greatest benefit has been to see how much my mother’s letters had
meant to her. She told how mother made her feel a part of the family.
Once when she became mentally ill, mother’s letters kept her from being
committed to a mental hospital and eventually helped her heal. She spoke
of many other crises mother had helped her through. She summarized it
this way: “I do not believe I could have raised my beautiful sons and
remained sane without your mother, yet I doubt I talked personally to
her over a dozen times in my entire life.”
You make think me superstitious but the same day of mother’s funeral, my
Aunt Roberta had been asleep on a front porch couch at the old homeplace,
too ill to go to the funeral. She awoke to find two men sitting on the
edge of the porch. One of them said, “We just came off the railroad
track and are very hungry. For some reason we thought someone here might
make us a sandwich.” Aunt Roberta got up and fixed them both a plate of
She asked me, “Didn’t your mother always feed the hoboes who came off
the tracks behind the house.” I told her about a child-like old man we
children called Baby George who came through about once a year. Even
though he never smelled very good, mother fixed him a fine tray of food
and treated him with respect.
Jesus promised a special reward to those who minister to “the least.”
But I never felt mother saw anyone as less than herself.
That’s why it was all so beautiful to me.