Years ago, my family lived in a Chicago suburb where a neighbor man fascinated my kids. When he came home from work, his children jumped and screamed and hugged him. My own son told me, “I wish I had a dad like him.”
That could have wounded me, had I not long since decided to become such a fixture around my own home. I’d rather my kids remember a dad who was always there for them than one whose arrival was noteworthy.
My wife and I knew the sad truth about the neighbor. I’ll call him George. His kids were so glad to see him when he showed up, because he rarely did. He had a good job, but he often went two or three nights without returning home.
When George did arrive, he had gifts for everyone to make up for having been away. And these weren’t business trips. His wife didn’t know where he’d been either – until she got bills from bars and massage parlors.
My wife and I discussed George until well into the night once. I pontificated that he needed God, needed a spiritual anchor in the universe, needed peace, joy, hope, a reason for living.
I outlined a plan, a process of earning the right to be heard, meeting with George’s family informally, socially, really getting to know him. It all made sense. “He needs to be desperate before he’ll come to us for help or before he thinks anything we have to say is valid,” I said.
We slept well, having decided to get together with George and his wife “sometime soon,” just to break the ice.
The next day I was called to the phone from a meeting. It was my wife, Dianna. “George’s wife found him in the garage with the car running. He left a note on the kitchen table.”
I could hardly speak. “Why do we always wait?” I managed. “Why do we always wait?”
Know any Georges? Don’t wait.