This is the story of a person. A person who got up before 5 am every morning to do something this person didn’t want to do. A person who smiles and laughs when the other isn’t funny or even pleasant to be around. A person who never got paid in full for the work they did. A person who is required to push pleasure into the background and keep pain up front. A person who goes where they don’t want to go, sees things they don’t want to see and does what they don’t want to do. A person who, when tired, angry, weary, annoyed, not understanding, seeing no benefit, getting nothing out of it, would rather be home sleeping, still does the thing.
Do you know the person? Have you seen this person? No? This is the person we should all strive to be. It is the person we admire the most but are usually the least like. It is the person we are “sometimes” and that gives us a little peace with the fact that we are not at all times. We admire this person but complain when we must be like them.
I witnessed the retirement of a man who was a person like this. This man worked for 54 years for one company. That is not that unusual but what is unusual is the fact that in the 54 years he didn’t have one sick day. In those 54 years he put all seven of his children through college. Four of them were daughters that he paid for their marriage. Six of them used him as a bank to finance their first homes. In those 54 years he stayed married to the same women for 52 and buried her next to an open spot for him someday. This person did all of this and more with the wage of a janitor who, when retired, made the largest salary of his life: an astounding $22,000 a year! Amazing and almost unbelievable.
We admire this person and many others like him. The grandmother who, instead of retiring, takes the role of raising her grandchildren when the parent can’t or won’t. The mom who works two full time jobs to provide for a fatherless home. The athletes who give up adolescence for the love of competition. We admire them but we just don’t want to be them. We appreciate them but we don’t want to do what they do.
This is the story of a person that I have trouble finding and don’t see as often as I should. I miss them.