I bill myself as a bit of a hermit at times. Just like everyone else, I enjoy some solitude. Whether that means toiling away in silence in my ever-expanding garden or simply going for a run, I like to get away. But int he end I always return to life. I have great friends, a great family and tons of work acquaintances with whom I interact with, converse and joke with every day.
It really dawned on me last night as I spoke with my mom on the phone about a cousin of her's who had died in a car accident late last week. The sheriff of the Iowa county he lived in had contacted my mom from a Christmas card (obviously tucked away in the envelope it was sent in) his department found after his death. My mom's cousin had one lone friend who he had coffee with every day. He was a bachelor whose parents had passed many years ago. His only sister died when she was a mere twenty years old. He had no living aunts or uncles, only a scattering of cousins who obviously lived far away and only kept in touch infrequently. That's where my mom comes in to play.
Outside of a neighbor of my mom's cousin who was leasing his farm, the sheriff's department had literally no paper trail of who to contact following his death. If my mom, ever the greeting card purchaser, hadn't sent Christmas cards to each and every one of her close, distant and very distant relations which my parents have tracked down in the past two-plus decades, this cousin of her's may not have even had one single relative attend his funeral -- not to mention the planning of it.
Her cousin, apparently a great planner at least, had more than enough money saved away which will pay for his funeral and burial or cremation. According to my mom, it's an admittedly odd role to be playing for someone whom she has only met once or twice but even with the objections of her brother, she is doing what she knows is right for a man she barely knew who had nobody else.
As I age, I hope to be at least half as selfless as my mom is. Both of my parents are kind givers who are always to help at the drop of a hat. This latest effort of helping leaves them driving half-way through Iowa, likely twice, from their southern Minnesota farm during what is already a late planting season to help what many would consider to be a stranger just to give this man a dignified send-off. That makes them heroes in my book.
If there is a lesson to be learned here it's to keep your family and friends close because you never know what kind of unimaginable events could come your way and that network will always be have someone in it who is willing to help.