Janet Crowe ( Sidewalk Jesus )
Independent, or are we
“Independent” or are we? Fireworks exploded into bouquets of twinkling luminescence across the night sky. A baby’s cry battled with the musical accompaniment, causing spectators to turn toward a young family.
“Why would anyone bring a baby to a fireworks show?” grumbled a man as he chose a snack from his picnic basket.
“Thank goodness we don’t have someone hanging around our necks and constantly needing our help,” responded his wife. “Open this jar lid for me, please.”
A few yards away another family watched the baby’s reaction to the explosions. A white-haired woman patted her grown daughter’s arm and said, “I remember when you were just a baby.” “I think that was the grand finale, Grandma,” interrupted a young man as he gently took the elderly woman’s arm. “Let me help you out of that chair.”
“Oh, I can do it myself,” protested Grandmother as she struggled to her feet.
“The ground is uneven so I’ll just keep a steadying hand on your arm,” explained the young man.
As the rest of the family began walking toward the cars, a teenage girl slowed her pace. “Mom, can I ask you something?” she said to the older woman’s daughter.
“Of course, Michelle,” replied the woman, allowing the others to move ahead.
“Is Grandma a burden?” asked Michelle. “No, of course not,” answered the mother. “Why would you ask that?”
“Well, I heard a nearby couple say they were glad they didn’t have babies or old people to burden their independent lifestyles.”
“Oh, Michelle,” sighed Mom, “those poor people don’t know the joys they’re missing. Grandma’s health and memory aren’t what they used to be, but her sparkle for life is still there. It’s sad when people think of someone as a burden. Instead, we have an opportunity to return the love they gave us over the years.”
“But, they seemed to be really happy about being independent,” continued Michelle. “Do you think Grandma was truly independent when she was my age?” asked Mom. “Are you or am I independent?”
“I still depend on you and Dad for whatever I need,” Michelle mused, “but you’re both independent. ”
“Are we?” Mom asked. “Don’t I need Dad’s strength when I’ve had a bad day? Doesn’t Dad need my appreciation of all the things he does? No one is truly independent. Human beings tend to run in packs, like wolves. We need each other and we rely on each other to help us be human.” “I thought adults could do anything,” said Michelle.
“No, darling,” Mom laughed. “I need your youth and insight to see the world through your eyes. I need Grandma’s wisdom so that I’m grounded in family history.”
“Oh, Mom,” Michelle interrupted, “don’t get all philosophical. Babies can’t survive without parents. Old people have problems without someone helping them, too.”
“True, but does that make them less worthwhile? ” Mom asked. “No, it doesn’t. People who, due to age or infirmity, must depend on others are not of less value than those who can care for themselves. ”
“Okay, but those people didn’t need anyone,” Michelle said. “You have us kids and now you have Grandma, too. Does having us around make you less independent?”
“Independence is an illusion,” Mom answered. “People need to be needed. It brings out the best in us. If people have no one to care for, they become selfish and see others as a way of satisfying their own desires. People who prefer to care for others use a different measuring tool and see the value in each person for who they are, not in what they can do for them.”
“Like Uncle Joe who tries to help anyone who needs help?”
“Yes,” Mom agreed. “Appreciating the value of everyone, young or old, is important. Remember, we are never taller than when we stoop to help someone else up.”
“Okay, so maybe depending on others and being depended on are blessings rather than burdens,” Michelle agreed. “Independence involves a celebration of our nation’s freedom, but as members of the human wolf pack, we need to hold onto each other as well as hold each other up.”
“Right and we’d better catch up with our pack before they wolf down our ice cream.”
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