Saturday, October 3, 2015

Keeping My Word

Sam and I have had quite a week of it. Unbearably hard. Unutterably sweet. That's Sam in the picture above. I don't have a picture of Jamie. No one does. She doesn't allow pictures of herself. Sam just says, "Well, Jamie is Jamie. All the time."

If you're joining us today for the first time in this "series" (the series I wish I weren't writing), you need to know that Sam and Jamie have lived on my farm for most of the last sixty years. Jamie is Sam's wife, and they are both in the mid-eighties. Jamie collapsed at their home, a tiny cottage at the entrance to my farm, more than a week ago. She was hospitalized until yesterday, when she was moved to Sanctuary Hospice House. 

It's been hard.

I've blogged about the journey this week and will add links at the bottom for the previous posts, if you want to get caught up. (They open in a separate window.)

Today, I want to tell you how I got to this place in the Wiley's story.

I bought the farm in 1989. The woman who owned the farm before me had the property on the market for two years. She had turned down all buyers because she didn't think they were the "right" ones. By the time my real estate agent and I pulled into her driveway, she had given up, and was working out the details with a buyer.

When I stepped out of the car, I wasn't particularly impressed by the two-story concrete block house, but we walked around to the back, alongside a pasture where cows grazed contentedly, toward a small manmade lake in the back. 

I started to cry. It was the exact picture that had been in my head since I was a child. 

I was home. At last.

Shirley looked at the real estate agent, who turned out to be her agent, too, and said, "I'm about to sell to the wrong person." In a series of events that could have only been the hand of God, I bought this lovely little farm with the unusual concrete house. 

The thing that mattered most to Shirley was that Sam, the man who had worked for her and her husband since 1960 (29 years), have "a place". She asked that I keep Sam on at his same salary and give him a place to live for the rest of his life. I agreed to do it.

I gave my word.

I was young. I didn't know about the perils and challenges of growing older. I didn't know about the financial responsibility that agreement would bring. I didn't know what giving my word would mean to me, what it would cost me. I didn't know the joy that becoming a woman of my word would bring.

Sam always says, "All you really have is your word. If your word ain't worth nothing, you ain't either." 

Years ago, I determined to keep my promise to Sam, and I have, but it's been hard. 

There were times when I couldn't see how I would stretch my money to take care of my needs and Sam's. When he was no longer able to do the farm work, it would have been easier to hire someone else and let Sam and Jamie go to a nursing home or government housing. I learned to do the work myself, as best I could, and kept my promise to that fine man and his wife. God has provided for all of us.

People have said, "You can't keep doing this." My response has been, "I gave my word." 

I didn't understand what giving my word meant at the time, but I've learned over the years. This past week, one of her doctors asked me about why I've been by their side when I'm not related to them. "I gave my word in 1989 to provide for them, and I'm sticking to it." His response made me cry. "That's just like it was in the old days. People never do that anymore." Don't get me wrong here. He didn't recommend breaking your word. He was just astonished to see it in action.

I haven't done anything special at all. I'm not a saint. I'm not perfect at keeping my word. I haven't always liked this promise of mine. Fulfilling my word has been hard, and I don't pretend it hasn't been. I've wept a river of tears over the years about the price I've paid to provide for people who once were strangers. In the process, though, the strangers have become family and I've learned about love, and responsibility, and faithfulness. 

Being a man or woman of our word is rare in this "me" society of entitlement in which we live, but it is still the right thing to do. It will still change your life. It brings more blessings than you can imagine. 

It is worth it. 

I've simply done what I would want someone to do for me. 

You see, I serve a God who has been faithful. Who will always be faithful to me. When He said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you," He meant it, and He still does. He's a God of His word and, if I am to be like Him, I'm to be a woman of my word, too. Even when it costs me more than I want to pay. Even when it's hard. Even when it's rare.

Jamie's doctor surprised me. "God will bless you for this," he assured me. I smiled and told him what I finally learned along the way. "He already has." 

Here's the links to the other stories in this series: The eternal destination, The Vigil, and A Little Help from My Friends

#faithful #keptmypromise #goldenrule #dountoothers