Offer to help others who cannot return the favor

Abraham and Tad Lincoln

“Lincoln chopped wood for widows and orphans. When he saw travelers bogged down, he stopped to help them.” Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life

“Ab Trout, a poor barefooted boy, was chopping wood one cold winter day. Lincoln came up and asked what he got for the job, and what he would do for the money. Ab said, ‘One dollar’ and pointing to his naked feet said, ‘A pair of shoes.’ Abe told him to go in and warm up and he would chop a while for him. Lincoln finished the work, and told him to go buy the shoes.”  William Herndon, Herndon’s Informant’s

“Lincoln defended the son of the widow Armstrong, in a murder case. Lincoln saved her boy from the gallows. The only possession she had in the world was 40 acres of land, which she offered to give to Lincoln as payment. ‘Aunt Hannah,’ he said, ‘you took me in years ago when I was poor and homeless and you fed me and mended my clothes, and I shan’t charge you a cent now’.” Andrew Carnegie, Lincoln – The Unknown

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Phil made me feel exceedingly comfortable when I first joined Toastmasters. I felt a little awkward at the meetings because I didn’t know anyone. But Phil, a longtime member, took care of that. He was always one of the first persons in the meeting room and every time I would walk in, he loudly announce, “Here’s the professor. How are things going at the university?” It made me feel exceptionally welcome, and put me at ease, even though I was not a professor, but merely a researcher, at the university. Nonetheless, I gracefully accepted the comical promotion that Phil gave to me.

Fast forward five years. Phil falls down and breaks his leg. He goes through surgery and spends weeks in rehab. I visit him virtually every day at the rehabilitation clinic. We wile away the hours chatting, playing checkers and putting puzzles together. Phil, still at the top of his game, at 95 years old, in short order makes friends with the staff and other patients.

Mental note to self: There’s a lot to learn from Phil.

My Sworn Enemy – The Thorny Bush

One of my worst enemies is a thorny bush that blocks a sidewalk which students use

Janette Scott facing down evil plants

to walk to a high school near my house.

I’m pretty sure that it is possessed by the devil. If not cut, branches with huge thorns grow through a fence and force students to walk around it or risk cuts to their arms and legs. It’s even more dangerous at night because you can’t see the branches.

Twice a year, wearing a long sleeve shirt and leather gloves, I fight back against the devil brush branches, like Janette Scott in The Day of the Triffids. I cut the branches and carefully load the large branches into the bed of my truck. The thorns can go right through my gloves, and haul them to a large trash can in the alley behind my house. The last time I did it, I accidently stepped on one of the branches and a thorn pierced through the sole of my shoe and into my foot. Yikes!

I chalk it up as a war injury in my never-ending battle with the sinister thorn bush.

The Lone Ranger

I often do house repairs for neighbors and friends who need help. I’m pretty good at it since I often repair my rental houses. Just last week, Cynthia, an older friend and former neighbor, who had just returned from mouth surgery, called and said,

“Terry, my toilet is leaking. Can you take a look at it?”

“Sure, I’ll be right over.”

I grabbed my tool box, stopped by Ace hardware to buy a toilet repair kit, and drove over to Cynthia’s house.

I ring the doorbell.

“Hi Terry. Thanks for coming.”

“You’re welcome. How’s your mouth feeling?”

“Okay, but sore. I still can’t speak too clearly yet.”

“Did you just say, ‘Okay you bore. I steal cans of peak to clean ear pets?”

“No.”

“Sorry. I was just rattling your cage. Show me where the leak is.”

She leads me to the bathroom.

As I suspected, the fill valve was broken and leaking. I replaced the valve and the flange too, for good measure. It worked like new.

“Can I pay you something?”

“No thanks. I’m the Lone Ranger. Justice is the only reward I desire. If you need anything else, give me a call.”

“Okay. You helped me a lot. Thanks kemo sabe.”

I gallantly drive away with music from the William Tell Overture playing on my cd player. I feel as pleased as punch.

I often get so wrapped up in my own life that I can’t see that other people have problems too. Imagine that! Even a minimal effort on our part to help someone, can have a huge impact on another person’s life.

Love Completely Without Complete Understanding

Sometimes it’s not readily apparent how to help others, yet we can still act.

Like when my mom was near the end of her life. I feel I could have done better, but at least I always tried to be at her side when she needed me the most.

As Norman Maclean said in A River Runs Through It and Other Stories,

“Each one of us here today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question: We are willing to help, but what, if anything, is needed? Either we don’t know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. But we can still love them – we can love completely without complete understanding.”

Upcoming Pesentations:

April 14, 2018. “Publish or Perish.” Pen to Podium Toastmasters. Hardesty Center, 1100 S. Alvernon. Tucson, AZ, 9:00 am.

June 5, 2018. “How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones.” Arizona Society for Professional Hypnosis. Scottsdale Senior Community Center,1700 North Granite Reef Road, Meeting Room 7, Scottsdale, AZ, 6:30 pm.

October 20, 2018. How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny BonesPrescott Valley Public Library (7401 E. Civic Circle), 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Prescott, AZ.

 

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Related Links

Like Abe Lincoln, Be Prepared with a “Quip” or a Bit of Humor

Emulate Abraham Lincoln: Make Each Day Count

The “Secret” Daily Affirmations of Abraham Lincoln

Always greet everyone, no matter what they look like

Employ an Affable Lincolnesque Persona

Be a Generous Listener, as Abe Lincoln Was

Deflect Criticism with Self-deprecating Humor

Always Say “Yes”

Be a Master of Disaster – Ponder the big picture

Nourish humor and tell stories, so people say — “I felt like I had known him/her my whole life and we had long been friends.”

Awaken the Sleeping Giant Within – The Abe Lincoln Way

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