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Helping others before ourselves is important

By JACK GODBEY

Community columnist

I have always been of the belief that helping others is an important part of living a happy and joyful life. I have this belief mainly due to being raised to believe that if someone needs help we are obligated to help them to the utmost of our ability. 

We see people sometimes who have an abundance of blessings and yet ignore their neighbor who may be struggling. We get so wrapped up in our lives and our own problems that we fail to pay attention to others who may be hurting.  

I was sitting on my patio recently and was enjoying watching the birds come and go. I scattered some breadcrumbs around the yard and saw a mother bird fly into her nest many times with some of the breadcrumbs for her screaming chicklets and I noticed that she was not eating any of the food herself. 

Instead, she was focusing on the needs of her babies. I was amazed at this act of unselfishness and I was instantly reminded of an event from my childhood that occurred when I was about 7 or 8 years old. 

Every other Sunday my parents would load up the car with all the kids and we would make the trip to Somerset to visit with my aunt and grandmother for Sunday dinner. Sounds like an innocent event. 

However, with the backseat of the car full of kids all picking on each other it resembled more of a traveling circus. Since I was the youngest child, I normally would opt out of the chaos happening in the backseat and enjoyed the protection of the front seat sitting in my mother’s lap. 

As is normally the custom when you go for a Sunday visit, you always bring some sort of food with you. My mother had made some sort of fruit salad to share with family for our Sunday dinner and placed it in the very back of the old station wagon for safe keeping.

This particular Sunday as we were driving down the road, a car pulled right out in front of us and we collided with a huge crash. The fruit salad in the back of the car went flying and covered us all with bits of fruit and marshmallows. 

I was sitting in my mother’s lap at the time of the crash and with seatbelts in the 1970s being just a mere suggestion, I went flying into the windshield of the car and was knocked out cold. 

My dad looked down and saw that my face was covered with blood and he instantly started to wipe it off. However, the more he wiped, the more blood would appear. 

It wasn’t until the rescue squad arrived a few moments later that he figured out I wasn’t bleeding. My dad had suffered a deep laceration on his chin that occurred upon impact when he hit the steering wheel and it was his blood that was falling down on my face. In his panic to help me, he never realized that it was him who had been injured. 

I am thankful to the little bird that reminded me of an important life lesson that I learned so many years ago that if we are focused on helping others with their needs then we won’t be nearly so aware of our own problems. 

I try to follow this important life lesson every day. However, I still can’t eat fruit salad.