Helpfulness & Kindness on a Steep Path

One day, my wife Nancy and I visited my doctor. The examination turned out to be routine, but the walk from the nearby parking garage to the doctor’s office turned out to be anything but.

I have come a long way in recovering from a stroke, but I still do not walk well. As Nancy and I struggled down the steep sidewalk, I realized that I might have bitten off more than I could chew. Nancy held my left hand, but I soon realized that even with her help, it was unlikely I was going to make it down that hill.

I thought about turning back but realized that it was only 10 minutes until the appointment. Our anxiety and fear increased as we continued down the slope. I had gotten myself into a situation that was not going to be easily fixed, and I began to pray!

At that moment, a man passed us with some other folk, but I was too preoccupied with fear to pay them any attention. As he passed, the man said something like, “Poppa, are you all right, are you OK? Do you need help?” I glanced up and sort of smirked to myself at his calling me “Poppa” as I was not sure he was younger than me. Then, another thought occurred to me: Maybe he had seen how much I was struggling and the desperation on my face — perhaps I was in more trouble than I realized!

It did not occur to me that this might be an answer to my prayer. I said, “I think I’ll be all right,” but it was soon apparent that was not true!

Afterwards it occurred to me that this man was offering help to a stranger while others passing by offered no help at all! Not only that, but he had other folk to care for, and yet he still offered to help us. May God bless him!

As the man and his group moved away, we continued down the walkway with fear and doubt. We were less than halfway down another hill. Just a little further along than when the man stopped and asked if he could help. I was now convinced that I could not proceed without help. I told Nancy that we needed to retreat up the hill before it was too late. The man told us that he could help us go all the way down the hill and even to the medical building. It was at this instant that I looked sideways at him for the first time, but only sideways because I did not want to turn my attention away from the anxiety that gripped me, and I noticed that he might have been close to my age. We accepted his help and proceeded on down the path. As it turned out, he was a little older than me.

Although we had made further progress, I could see that now the sidewalk’s slope was very steep. Clearly, the man’s help was essential for getting down that hill, but at that moment, I could not see us succeeding.

I stopped to look at him for the first time. I had been so wrapped up in my own problem that I had not even asked his name. We introduced ourselves and shook hands, and I thanked him for his help. He explained that he understood what I was going through because he also had survived a stroke. I had not mentioned stroke and did not notice if Nancy had mentioned it.

We had a brief discussion about the challenges of recovery. As it turned out, at one time he could not walk or talk, but he was now assisting a younger man to get down a steep hill. I saw the humor in the situation and chuckled to myself.

I told him that I thought God might have sent him to help me. He was wondering about that, too, because he did not know what had motivated him to take the route we had taken, which was out of his way. This fellow reminds me of the Good Samaritan. We’re thankful for the helpfulness and encouragement rendered that day. May God continue to allow him to recover fully, and richly bless him and his family.


Maryville, Tennessee

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