Thursday, October 18, 2007

Bethany


I got a note from a friend in NY yesterday. Here’s a clip from it (the photos above are the ones he mentions):

“There were two Bethany's with me this weekend. The young Bethany with the hat and the gloves being a young, silly, soon to be 13 year old girl. Then there was a more mature looking Bethany as several people who saw the photos pointed out to me. She could "almost" pass for a student and for the first time I saw her at a new level...a girl 5 years from going to college.”

As coincidence would have it, I had already planned to post a story about this father and daughter pair today. Here it is:


A dad’s actions and words help shape who his daughter will become.

Raymond is a Thoroughbred breeder in New York; his twelve year old daughter Bethany enjoys many fine things and experiences because of his success. Yet Raymond is concerned with making sure his daughter understands she is blessed and fortunate to have, rather than is entitled to, the lifestyle he provides her. Aiming to raise his daughter not to be spoiled and materialistic, and wanting her to be kind and respectful to people from all walks of life, he looks for opportunities to model the conduct he expects from her. To that end, father and daughter have taken Gil into their lives.

Gil has lived on the streets of Long Island and depended on the generosity of the locals for nearly twenty-years. Raymond takes Bethany with him when he buys food, a winter coat or a blanket, and then sets out in search of Gil. Upon finding him, they sit and talk with him awhile even though they aren’t certain he remembers them from their previous visit.

Although Gil is a little rough around the edges and at times in a world of his own, Bethany is not afraid of him. To her, Gil is a reminder of the very lesson her dad has taught her – she has a moral responsibility to share what she has with those who may have nothing. She has come to believe that Gil is really an angel sent by God to make sure those he has blessed are doing their part to help others.

As each visit with Gil comes to an end, Raymond always places a few dollars in his hand and then leads Bethany back to their car. On their drive home they talk about the importance of being compassionate and affording dignity to all, not matter what their station, and doing good deeds whether you have anything to gain from your actions, or not.

Taking this lesson to heart, one day Bethany announced her claim to the returnable cans and bottles that were stored in the garage waiting to be exchanged for a deposit refund. She began saving all the cans and bottles she could get her hands on, and when there were so many Raymond feared he could not get them all into his trunk, they returned them. Bethany received a hand full of cash.

When he asked what she was going to do with her newfound fortune, Raymond expected his daughter to ask for a trip to the mall to purchase a new pair of jeans or earrings. The answer she gave instead couldn’t have pleased him more. “I’m going to give it all to Gil,” she said.

Raymond watched as his daughter gave her money to Gil, moved by the smile on her face, and the even bigger smile on Gil’s. They were, indeed, he believed, the smiles of angels.

Bethany recently had to write a brief story about her Christian experiences as she approached receiving Confirmation. In it she said, “I understand God and my religion even better because helping others makes me feel like I am being the best person that I can be.”

And that is just what Raymond was hoping for.

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