Are you making a difference?
My father passed on recently. By sharing that, I am not looking for sympathy, but rather I write it as a statement designed to bring about reflection and insight. For the past few weeks I have been the recipient of so many kind and comforting words, I cannot count them all. I’ve also had the wonderful opportunity to talk with so many people about my father and his life.
I must have been told dozens of times — if not hundreds — how much I look like my father. I also have been reminded of how I sound like him, have handwriting like his and even drive like him. I’ve decided that being like Dad is something to be proud of.
Many of the individuals I’ve spoken with have told me stories –which I had never heard before – of programs my father started to help others or of instances where he lent a hand to someone in need. Most of all, people shared with me examples of how my Dad loved his community; it was the town where he grew up, spent so many days and enjoyed the final years of his life.
It’s a small town and if it wasn’t for the exit on the interstate, few people would know of its existence. Yet, it was home to my father and he loved it and the people who live there. While during much of my childhood we were simply weekend residents, it was still home to him. Of course, once he retired he returned home and began again to make a difference.
He started a program to help people buy nutritional food at a reduced cost. He worked with efforts to deliver meals to those who were home-bound. When a vacancy occurred on the city council, he humbly accepted an appointment to that seat. He worked with state and federal officials to develop a new lake, providing a stable water supply for the town. He also worked to secure funding for a community library. As I have heard over and over again over the last few weeks, he simply made a difference.
I don’t think he looked at his efforts that way. He just did what he felt needed to be done. I believe that may be the beauty of it all. When we set out to “make a difference” our efforts and results can be shallow and self-serving, but when we begin to just meet a need, the end result can be changed lives and a changed community.
I’ve thought often about what I do in my own community. I’ve wondered if I’m doing enough and if it really matters. I don’t really know the answer, but I pray that it does make a difference for someone, just like Dad made a difference. I’ve decided to just do the things I feel need to be done — things that serve and make my city a better place to live. I am going to follow his example. Hopefully, it’ll be another way I can be a chip off the old block.