Not long ago, I returned to the condo where I used to live. When I was about to get back into the car to leave, a man I did not know who was also getting into his vehicle called out to me. He said “I am sorry; you do not know me but I know you! My brother always talked about your husband, your baby and you and how you were very nice to him. Thank you,” he said, and with a somber voice progressed to utter, “unfortunately my brother passed away two weeks ago. I am sorry I did not contact you but I just wanted you to know that you touched his life.” Taken by surprise, I gave him my condolences and walked back to my car.
When we first moved to that neighborhood several years earlier, we were instructed to avoid that man across the street because there was a suspicion that he was a drug dealer or something equally “bad.” Moved by fear, I tried to comply; however, every time I passed by where he was sitting outside on his porch, I tried to avoid eye contact. Then one day, I remembered my mother’s words: “Everyone is worthy of respect and value until they prove the contrary. Do not treat people based on what you hear about them. Give them a chance. Many times as you interact you will see that people are different from what was said about them. Don’t be naïve but trust your gut”!
As I drove home thinking of the words the man said about our relationship with his brother, I could not help but think that I want to teach my children the lesson I learned from my mother!