“Brighten the corner where you are!
Brighten the corner where you are!
Someone far from harbor "you" may guide across the bar;
Brighten the corner where you are!”
— Robert Lee Black, Charles Hutchison Gabriel, Ina Duley Ogdon, R. Price
There are those who encourage us with a smile, a kind act, a “way of life.” There are many of these individuals who go about “doing good” each day and who move behind the scenes as it were. They are never those individuals seeking the “limelight,” nor are they comfortable in the “limelight,” but they add value to our lives. In each community across our area, we know who these individuals are. I am not going to name any of these individuals in this column, but I am going to describe them, and you guess who they are.
“You were frustrated, mad, impatient, hot, and tired. You phoned the place I work many times, and you left three messages. Each message received contained vocal inflections indicating your increased frustration. The last one was “I am HOT. I am TIRED. It has now been 6 HOURS.”
I am sorry you had to wait, and I am sorry for your frustration. I, along with my co-workers, was doing the best we could. When lights came across many dark roads and down many lanes and driveways, I received very few calls, hardly any. I climb to dangerous heights, and I work with high voltage electricity. I have a wife, two children and four grandchildren. I attend a local church. I eat at local restaurants. I love the place I live, and I know frustration is a part of life. I never get comfortable with it, as I know the frustration on behalf of those I serve is real. I love my job. I need your prayers.”
“You were physically weak and mentally tired, and you were ashamed of being dependent on anyone for anything. You never had been. You spent your life being strong for others; now it was me, a stranger to you until a few hours ago; who was ‘doing’ for you. I helped you up from your bed. I walked beside you and supported you, as you walked down the hall. You were weak when we returned to your bed. You asked if I would bring a glass of cool water for you. I placed a straw in your water and held it as you drank. You closed your eyes and said: ‘You are an angel.’ I am not, but I do love my job. I help people of all ages. When they come to me, they are in need of care, rest, patience and understanding. Some I serve do get frustrated. Sometimes members of the family of those I serve become frustrated. Many times their frustration is not for me, but it comes my way. Most of my patients tell me I inspire them. I receive much more inspiration than I give. My daily and nightly routines are marked by frequent moans, groans, the sounds of heart monitors, the smells of antiseptics, and the expressions in many eyes saying ‘Help me’ and, frequently I hear ‘Thank you. God Bless you.’ I work long hours. I live in your community. I am a single mother. My young daughter attends school here. She says she wants to be just like me when she grows up. Each time she expresses that it makes me smile.”
“You were frantic. You reluctantly phoned me, as you were at the ‘end of your rope.’ I listened, and I shook my head, and I answered ‘Yes Ma’am.’ I drove to a place familiar to me and familiar to many young people. I found your child, and I told them it was time to go home. They were upset, because I told them I would drive them home. They were in no condition to drive home. They were just out of high school. They had just turned ‘eighteen.’ They thought they were grown and trying ‘their wings.’ The adult faded, and the child reappeared when they saw you in the doorway. ‘Mama,’ they stammered. You held out your arms. They rushed into them. You looked at me, as I was about to turn, and you mouthed ‘Thank you.’ Today I went to work, and my co-worker said ‘Something is on your desk.’ It was a freshly baked pound cake with a note expressing appreciation. It contained a message ‘I will never forget your kindness and understanding. My child may be alive because of you.’ You signed your name. I cut a slice of the cake and tasted it, and in that cake I tasted the love, affection, and all the emotions of a mother, of you, of my own mother, now gone for a number of years, who was a tough lady and who drove out one night and found me, and, in front of several friends, told me to ‘Load up’ in her car. ‘Mama,’ I said, ‘I am embarrassed. I am mad with you.’ She responded ‘You can get glad in the same britches you got mad in. I am taking you home,’ and after a long, interminable pause. ‘Son, you know I love you.’ I would have rather been beaten 10,000 times than to hear what came after those words, and in that bite of cake I heard, once again ‘Son, you know I love you.’
“Your face is beautiful. You are a lovely young lady. You are very handsome young man. I sit in a chair on a football field. I am sweating; dressed in this coat and tie. I am dressed in this skirt and top and wearing these pantyhose. ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ begins playing. You are wearing a graduation cap and gown. Your head is held high. I remember a young child who was reluctant, unsure, and who struggled. I remember a mother who was reluctant, unsure, and who struggled. I remember someone who came to me, and said ‘Everyone else is doing this, but I don’t feel quite right about it.’ I told you if you didn’t feel right about it, not to do it and that you would be criticized anyway. You worked hard all the way through high school. You worked hard in school, and you held a job after school and on the weekends. You slipped me a card as you walked into the gate tonight. It had a big yellow cartoon cat on the front and the caption read ‘You are the cat’s MEOW.’ It was funny, but I teared up just a little. In my mind, I rejoiced over the mature young lady, and the handsome young gentleman before me, and I also heard a childish voice pleading ‘Don’t leave me Mama.’ Don’t think that voice is completely put away just yet. We may not hear that voice, as much of it, but, but, once in a while, we will hear it, and we will smile each time we do. ‘You’ve only just begun. A kiss for luck and you’re on your way. And, yes you’ve just begun.’
“I spend long hours awaiting stories to be placed on my blank pages. Some of these stories are happy, and some are unhappy. Some of these stories relate community events to you, and some relate history. I am one of the freedoms guaranteed in our Bill of Rights. I am read, and, sometimes criticized. I am the tabloid that contains the articles desired to be expressed by the ‘power hungry,’ the ‘contentious,’ the ‘contented’ and the ‘heartbroken.’ Sometimes you read me, and sometimes, you don’t, but I am part of your community. I have been through many change, but I am still here, and I will be here as long as you feel the news should be printed.”
“Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do, Do not wait to shed your light afar, To the many duties ever near you now be true, Brighten the corner where you are.”
From the Eight Mile Still on the Woodpecker Route north of White Springs, wishing you a day filled with joy, peace, and, above all, lots of love and laughter.