I’m going to tell you about my generous, Christian, do-gooder cousin because you may learn something from her example. She is in fact the most generous, selfless person I have ever known, but she is not always too discerning about who she should do good things for. Over the years she has opened her home to a variety of ne’er-do-wells who have moved in for a night or a month—or even longer. One of her grown children is acquainted with a lot of questionable characters. Recently, one of those characters had asked to spend the night in my cousin’s house and as usual, ever a sucker for a sob story, she said yes. However, she is an absolute tee-totaler and when she saw this overnight “guest” with a wine bottle she demanded that it be handed over. The “guest” already intoxicated, hid the bottle behind her back and said she didn’t have it. That’s when my cousin got really upset and the next thing you know she experienced an “incident”.
She developed a sudden severe headache and then several minutes of confusion. Her grandson who was with her called an ambulance, but by the time it arrived she was feeling more herself and her vital signs seemed to be okay. She refused to go to the hospital and made her grandson swear not to tell his dad what had happened. Fortunately, after ten days of worrying, her grandson finally broke his promise and told his dad who promptly got his mom a doctor’s appointment.
We don’t know yet if my cousin, 72, had a stroke. The doctor thinks she had one of those “mini-strokes” you often have before you have a bigger one later. Tests are being run to see if there was any damage. She now says everyone has mini-strokes; it doesn’t mean anything. She also says she’s “not afraid to die.” We want her to think this over. We don’t want her to die and we also don’t want her to experience the consequences of a really bad stroke that could be worse than death, being paralyzed or unable to speak and perhaps not being able to read, the only thing she truly enjoys.
At seventy-two my cousin still works 4 days a week. All the same, she has barely enough money to make ends meet because she has impoverished herself by “helping” others, often because of woes created by drug use and law breaking.
Last Sunday, our preacher had this topic: “The Bible says to love your neighbor as yourself, not instead of yourself.” My cousin would do well to remember this in the future. She has a right to serenity in her home. She is not running a halfway house for wayward men and women—although it often seems that she is. She is not a tax deductible charity. She is an old woman who deserves peace and privacy.
I admire my cousin for her willingness to help others, but it is impossible to help people who are not simultaneously helping themselves. I love that my cousin loves her neighbor but she should also love and care for herself and allow others to help her do so. She is worth it, as I know God would agree.