Donald Was a Good Boy
Lessons in our Lives
Determining the Future
Donald was a good boy! My heart bleeds, when I remember how Donald was treated as a young man in our neighborhood. Donald was a teenager, when I was about four or five, and I visited my grand parents home on a daily basis. Donald lived next door and was usually very quiet. I was a noisy little rascal and my feet were usually dirty from running around bare footed and playing outside all of the time at that age. I didn't realize till years later why my grandmother was always washing her sheets. It was because I ran up a dusty road each day and hopped into bed with my grand parents each morning. Of course, my feet were never clean until late at night, when I had to take a bath.
My grandfather was a Baptist Minister and so were his two brothers and their father. This made things a little uncomfortable for me as a wild and often unruly child. Although my grand folks never disciplined me, my parents were tough on me when it was necessary. A little spanking or loosing bicycle privileges, often were employed at these times in my early life. I had a bad habit in the fact that I used to irritate Donald, who lived next door to my Grand parents, and whenever I could, I would yell at him and sometimes throw a crab apple from the tree. I did not do this often, but enough to make the young man angry at me and at times he would yell back at me in a language that was indiscernible. My mother told me that Donald's father had once been in trouble with the law, and the man was big and red faced. He scared me and I always hid when I saw him in his yard next door.
The saving grace of my grandparent's yard was the big fence that separated the two houses, and the fence was always covered with green vines. This made my assaults on Donald more of a surprise and increased my anonymity. My mother, who was uninformed of my treatment of Donald, once told me that the boy was slow and had a problem speaking clearly. She had grown up next door to the Smiths and actually liked Donald. She told me that Donald was a good boy and I should try to behave as nicely as the young man. My mother has always had a big heart and always regarded those in need with a loving kindness. I expect that if she had known about my behavior in regards to Donald, I would have had a lot of trouble sitting down at the dinner table after that.
Once when I had been irritating Donald by throwing a crab apple over the fence, he yelled loudly at me and his father, whose face was always red, came outside and yelled at me some more. The man's face was even more reddened and my grandfather, who happened to be sitting on the porch at the time, heard all of the commotion. He got up from his chair and walked around to where I was playing,and asked me what all of the yelling was about. My grandfather was very respectable and usually quite calm, except when it came to defending a family member. I had never seen my grandfather angry before and my mother once told me that when provoked, he had quite a temper. He asked me why there was yelling from next door and I told him that the man over there had scared me. This made grandfather mad and he walked over to the house, and tried to confront the older man. At the age of five, I was telling the truth about the red-faced man, yet, I failed to explain to grandfather that I had been the one responsible in starting the altercation in the first place.
The man next door failed to come to answer when my grandfather knocked and this was probably because he knew of his reputation as being a no nonsense guy and pillar of the community. Donald had disappeared altogether and stayed in his house. Now that I had been avenged, I felt pretty important and hugged my grandfather's neck. He told me to let him know if anyone bothered me again and he would take care of the situation. After that, Donald tried to avoid me and would not respond when I called his name in my trying to get his attention.
Later, one evening, as I was being pushed by an older neighbor down the big hill in front of my grandparent's home, i was accidentally shoved into a rose arbor that was bristling with huge thorns. I cried in pain when I landed into the rose arbor that stood in front of the Smith's home. Donald had heard me cry and came out to investigate. When he saw my condition and how I was bleeding from head to toe, he immediately took action to pull me from the thorns, that were now sticking into my dirt covered little body, and making me a bloody mess. He lifted me up from the wagon in which I had been riding and placed me on the ground beside it. He told me not to move and he ran to get my mother. When my mom came, she saw the condition that I was in, and the thorns covering my entire body. With Donald's help, I was taken in to the house and placed upon an ironing board. There my aunt and mom unceremoniously plucked out each thorn with some tweezers. With each thorn, I gave a yell and it must have taken an hour for them to get every thorn out from my arms and legs. My face and neck, even had thorns and I was bathed in alcohol, because that was all the antiseptic available at the time. Of course, this caused even more pain, and I would not have liked to be a neighbor in the immediate vicinity, as I yelled and screamed to high heaven in pain throughout the ordeal. Donald came over and asked about me. I guess that in spite of my irritating him, I was the closest thing to a friend, or at least someone who gave him any attention, and he showed that he was really concerned about me. Mom told him that I would be okay and if I needed to be taken to a local hospital later, she would take me. She thanked Donald for his help in pulling me from the thorns, and how he had helped to carry me home. I never made fun or picked at Donald after that incident. I yelled to him only to speak his name and threw up my hand and waved, when I saw him on the roadway leading to his home. Donald just smiled and now had become a friend to me, that I had not realized was there, all along.
Over the years as I grew up, Donald was always next door, even after his father had passed away. Whenever he needed help he would ask my mom or grandparents, and they always treated him kindly. Donald never worked, except in his garden that was behind the family home and he was always trying to give us a tomato or some corn. We returned the favor a few years later when he had a hard time in growing his crops. My grand father took over beans, corn , and tomatoes whenever he got the chance.
Donald had become a real family friend, and when I was grown and had a family of my own, Donald was still living next door to my grandparent's old home. I got to introduce him to my little girl, who was two years old at the time, and Donald smiled as he shook her hand. My heart still bleeds when I remember Donald, and I have often wondered if my contact with him had influenced me in my becoming a teacher of special needs children and later to teach more than twenty-five years in that chosen field. My heart was being conditioned, I suppose, in preparing me with an abundance of patience and caring for the kids that I was blessed in having in my classes all of those years. My grandparent's home was later sold, after they had passed away, and I lost contact with Donald for many years. One day, as I visited my mother with the family, we were in a grocery store and at the produce counter. There was Donald, and when he saw us, he came over to hug my mother's neck. We shook hands and there was an abundance of love in that handshake, as it was exchanged at that time. Donald will always be in my memory as a special childhood acquaintance, and that he had a great influence in my growing-up years. Tears fill my eyes, as I think back to those early days, and how much we may have missed in not knowing Donald.