Sunday, July 21, 2013

A random act of kindness on Murdock Road

Here's a post from my friend Karen Rodriguez: 

I took dinner to Murdock Road today. Red Chicken Chili and corn bread. I went to the grocery store, bought all the ingredients, put them in a crockpot for six hours, and then when it was ready I carefully put it in a container and delivered it to the house on Murdock Road. We all know what house I mean.

We all have our own feelings and biases and assumptions about what happened on Wednesday morning on Murdock Road. I’m guilty of some amateur detective work and allowing myself to initially get caught up in the mass hysteria. But then I realized something: he had a family. He has a mother, and a fiancĂ© and children and other people who loved him. And it made me think of Lloyd LeBlanc.

Lloyd LeBlanc’s son, David, was murdered along with David's girlfriend on a back country road in the middle of the night in Louisiana by two brothers. Lloyd LeBlanc heard that the convicted killers’ mother couldn’t go grocery shopping because the town had ostracized her, called her horrible names, and had even thrown dead cats on her porch. Lloyd LeBlanc went to the store, bought a basket of fruit, walked up to her front door and knocked. When she answered he said something like, “I don’t blame you for what your boys did to my son.” (Jaw dropping.)

I like to believe that if I were in that situation I could show that amount of grace and mercy. What an amazing lesson in compassion. One I hope never to have to face up close. But I’m glad for the lesson it provides and find it a good reminder of how to live a life of compassion and kindness. The good old Golden Rule.

So I took dinner to Murdock Road. Red Chicken Chili and cornbread. When Sharon answered the door she was visibly nervous. Her mother stood nearby for support as I blurted, “Hello. My name is Karen, I live on Dunkirk and I brought you dinner. I’m so sorry.”  She stepped onto the porch and hugged me and we both started crying. A few neighbors have shown similar kindness and she is grateful.

My heart breaks for this woman because her loss is so significant. She lost her partner, her children lost a father and then the community she lives in turned on her (over rumors and rampant speculation) when her only crime was simply trying to live in a nice neighborhood with a good school so her children could have a decent education. Just like the rest of us.

The events of last week in Rodgers Forge have stunned all of us. We’re conflicted with emotions: anger, fear, worry, resentment, concern -- and that’s all normal. But let’s not forget that Donte Stephens leaves behind people who love him. People who did nothing wrong. People who feel ostracized by their neighbors and sit inside their hot house with the windows closed and the curtains drawn afraid to answer the knock on the front door from someone bringing them dinner because they don’t know what hate they may find when they turn the knob.

Here are the facts as I know them:  A man was murdered. He had a family who loved him. They are my grieving neighbors. I choose to show compassion and kindness. I hope others will, too.


I love that Karen and others reached out to the family and I'm embarrassed that not only did I fail to act, but it didn't even occur to me. Her post mentioned the Golden Rule and I'm going to pull out another oldie but goodie for the comments here: If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.


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