“Charity begins at home...”
There was this saying my mother had. I remember about the time she started expressing it. I was eight years old. My mother wanted my Dad to be more involved with his son, my older brother. Dad was busy helping his friends, partially partying as well. A few times he’d do things with my brother. However, it wasn’t all that much. My mother was NOT a nag. Though, she had every right to be one.
When Mom would get disgusted at how my Dad didn’t invite my brother on fishing trips, and the like. Something my mother felt that my Dad could’ve taken my brother with him. To spend some father-son time together. She would remark, “Charity begins at home.” Over time I began to develop a love-hate relationship with that saying. I hoped I’d never say it. Because if I had, well then. Just maybe I married the wrong guy.
So, life goes. Over twenty years later, I built a business. I had a goal for conducting the business. I decided to incorporate at least one hour of charity within the confines of my office once a week. I would treat someone for free. Or I would discount enough people in a week at two-thirds, or half the price to ease their financial burdens. I told one of my former internists this. He wrinkled his nose. As if I were a fool. It didn’t take long for me to fire him. One thing I despise as much as racism is someone lacking compassion. ‘Short hands Long pockets’, as one would say. Especially, if they are in the medical field, to a point.
So, as my business blossomed, I finally achieved having enough clientele to open up my first office. I cannot remember exactly all the different reasons for helping people out and not getting paid or taking half. But it all worked out. Everyone was happy, and I was profiting quite well. I was exhausted, yet fulfilled. At about three years ago, some young moms I knew of, were struggling with their health as well their finances were going to become shaky. I also had a few older people as well who were on fixed incomes. I had two people every week on a regular basis that I worked on free of charge. One I gave two full sessions to per week. And I recruited a physical therapist who’d worked in the VA on brain trauma patients for years. He was semi-retired. We were friends since 1996. I recruited him for this one patient who’d had severe brain trauma. He worked on her two to three times a week every week.
I then recruited a semi-retired nutritionist she took care of her for free in her office every three weeks. I got a lawyer who was coming into my office to give her fifteen minutes free advice. He was sincere and sat in my office and answered all the questions he could. As well, he gave her sound advice. I checked out supermarkets that were closest to her for the best buys on the foods that the nutritionist wanted her to have. I gave her addresses and phone numbers of the places to food shop, finding those food-stores within five minutes of her home.
One summer week about that same year. I had six charity people come in for treatment from me. I knew money was getting tighter for many, as well for me. My rent was going up, as was all other overhead expenses. But I decided somehow all that I’d done and would do was a good thing. Soon, I realized that I had to start doing house calls again, people were becoming less ambulatory so to speak. Getting the pain patient into my office had nearly become a chore for their spouse, their daughters, etc… And I had many people who truly wanted to be independent and keep driving. However, their age and quite often their ailments were beginning to recon with their driving and I knew it. I had to change with them. So, I did. I promised them I would not raise whatever fee I had charged them. Especially, those who needed me more than once a month, over the years. I kept my promise. I let those know where I could not drive to. Such as multiple stairs over five to set up my table and all that I’d have to carry. Anyone living out of state. For I am licensed only in New Jersey. I love animals, except if you have a vicious animal, I will have to abort. That has happened only once in all my years. However, also I would not enter a home of a smoker. I gave up working cigarette smokers a few years ago.
In doing all this, closing my second office. It has become a joy, and how I got started in 1993 doing business when did only house calls back then. Yet, now it was 2017 when I restarted my house call engine. Then it was May 2018 when I closed my office and went full-time on the road with my business. I found that I began to have more time for our children and for writing, because I wasn’t busy killing myself to make rent or to clean the 700 square foot office. Yet, could use the money for our home more so than I had in the few years just before.
This brings me to the past bunch of months, now. One day, I was speaking with a priest I’ve known since about 2007. We were speaking about business and I remarked, “Well, thank God I’ve rearranged my business. Now when I’m getting pulled in different directions and with so many people in my business dying, going into homes, moving, convalescing, or them having the flu. I have time to help a family member who’s ill. All those doctors appointments, I’m so glad I’m their patient advocate. Now, when business is low. I’m so grateful. God will provide. That’s all I say to myself Father.” This priest who’s younger than I. Who never met my mother. Yet, knew my grandmother when he was a child remarked, “Charity begins at home.” I nearly laughed. I smiled and shook my head. “You know, I used to really dislike that statement. I actually had a love-hate relationship with that, Father. So, it’s come full circle.” He smiled and nodded. ---Jody-Lynn Reicher