Charity should begin at home, but should not stay there. ~ Philip Brooks
You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. ~ Anonymous
A good laugh is sunshine in the house. ~ William Makepeace Thackeray
We have 7 guests and no members online
Written By Al Jones
My Uncle Lincoln’s biggest pet peeve was when a young man didn’t stand up straight. It wasn’t just about posture to him; it was about self-respect, respect for others in your presence and keeping a sense of self confidence. To him, if you slouched or leaned to one side, you were showing weakness or lack of interest in your surroundings or the company you were keeping. If he saw one of us slouched or leaning with our hands in our pockets, he’d yell, “Push off!”
The same could be said for sitting. He was just as diligent at making sure everyone sat up straight at the dinner table. You weren’t allowed to wear a hat, elbows must not be on the table and you had to sit up straight. He wanted us engaged. The dinner table was more to him than sharing a meal. It was a chance to hear what went on in each of our days and offer advice where he felt we needed it. If you were not sitting up straight, he would again tell you to, “Push off.”
It was many years before I had the courage to ask him why he told us to “push off.” I don’t know how we knew what he wanted us to do when he said, “Push off,” but we all instinctively either stood or sat up straight. He only did it with the young ones like my cousins and I. My other uncles could slouch or lean and Uncle Lincoln would never chastise them. I also don’t ever recall him demanding it of any of the ladies. I can’t even imagine how my mother would have reacted if he had demanded the same of her.
As years went on, and we young men became adults and started raising our own families, he continued with telling his grandsons and the sons of his nephews to “Push off.” From time to time, he would still tell the rest of us to do the same. I started to notice he was much more diligent with those of us that had not started families yet, than he was with those that had. I, still in my late teens at the time, thought perhaps there was favouritism. Why else would he still demand from some of us and not others?
I had always been raised to respect what my uncles asked of me. I spent a lot of time in their homes when I was young as my own father was quite sick and my mother needed someone to watch over us kids while she worked and looked after my father. I, like most young men, would have never dreamed of challenging his authority, that is, until such time as we were old enough to want respect ourselves. And those moments, usually involved a young lady.
I can’t even remember what her name was, but I had just met a young lady I was kinda sweet on. As per expectations, in the absence of my own parents, I brought her to my Uncle Lincoln’s place so they could meet her. I was trying to be cool, acting like I wasn’t nervous or worried about not only the impression she had of me, but the impression she had of my family. In that moment of trying to act cool, I leaned to one side with my hand in my pocket. Instinctively, he interrupted his conversation with who I had hoped would be my new girlfriend to tell me to, “Push off.”
I was embarrassed. I was mad. I wanted to yell at him, but instead, because the young lady was still present, I acted like it was no big deal as I stood up straight. But after walking the young lady home, I had a lot of things to think about as I walked back to my uncle’s house. I was going to call him out and went over in my head everything I intended to say to that man. I didn’t get to express any of it. He met me at the door.
“Your aunt says I embarrassed you,” he said. I nodded. “She says I owe you an apology,” he added. I just stood, waiting for the actual apology. To this day, I don’t think he ever did, but he did give me an explanation.
“I don’t demand anything of you that my father didn’t demand of me. Everything we do, if repeated, becomes habit. Habit has a way of directing our lives. If you allow yourself to be seen as indifferent, uncaring, uninterested, weak or lazy... you will become what people expect of you. For you to rise to your full potential and become the best man you can be, others must expect more of you and you will rise to meet their expectations.”
He then confessed, “I find myself leaning to one side from time to time, so I have to remind myself to push off of my leaning side. Sometimes we get into the bad habits of leaning toward anger, leaning toward bitterness, leaning toward hatred, leaning toward not taking good care of ourselves, or leaning toward a lot of things that we shouldn’t. We have to push off so that we can be better than that.”
“So why don’t you demand that of your brothers or any of my cousins that have children?” I asked.
“Because they are no longer my responsibility. My responsibility is in helping raise those that I am asked to help raise,” he replied.
“Why don’t you demand it of the women in our family?” I asked.
He just smiled and said, “Even the strongest man knows you don’t tell a woman what to do. You do what they tell you to do.”
Looking back, my Uncle Lincoln was much wiser than I gave him credit for at the time.