Pinch of Faith: Finding out the hard way that no good deed doesn’t go unpunished

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“For as punishment is to the evil act, so is reward to a good act. Now no evil deed is unpunished, by God the just judge. Therefore no good deed is unrewarded, and so every good deed merits some good.” St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica

Although it sounds a bit pessimistic, I have just become a living testimony to that old adage, and I have definitely earned something phenomenal for my well-intentioned efforts.

An elderly family friend suffered a fall recently that resulted in her hospitalization for two weeks. Her living arrangements quickly went from independent living in her own little apartment to the fact that she could no longer live alone and take care of herself. 

At age 96, she has outlived her husband of more than 50 years and all of her family. Not having any children, she had asked me a few years ago to serve as her power of attorney. I agreed and up until this point, it had not become necessary to invoke that document. 

Aside from an occasional inquiry about some confusing mail she received, getting her and her husband relocated into subsidized affordable housing, assisting her in moving and later arranging his funeral and applying for his benefits as his widow, she was doing fine. She called me every week and never hid from me the fact that she had a lifelong crush on my husband, referring to him as “her boyfriend.”

After her fall, however, I was speaking daily to doctors, nurses, case workers, and to her. When it was time to discharge her from the hospital, arrangements were made for her to go to a long-term care facility where all of her needs could be addressed on a daily basis. It was decided that her apartment must be vacated by the end of the month, which entailed a major project on my behalf.

With the assistance from a grandson and a friend, we loaded up our van with boxes and oversized black trash bags and headed to her apartment complex. Upon arrival, there were two buses blocking the lanes in front of the main entrance, making it impossible to advance to the parking lot. Because they showed no signs of moving within the foreseeable future, I made the decision to drive beneath the metal canopy covering the front entry.  

Supported by four sturdy metal posts, I was shocked when one of them jumped out and snagged the passenger side of our van. The sickening sound of metal on metal drew a crowd of curious onlookers and caused me to become nauseated when I got out to survey the damage.

I have been driving since my 16th birthday and have never been the cause of a wreck, so this was devastating for me. Luckily, the door was still operable, and the vehicle was drivable. While it was ugly, I did not think the cost to repair it would be astronomical. 

 Upon entering the apartment, we quickly learned that her air conditioning was not working so maintenance was notified and another unit was installed, but because of the heat buildup, it would take several hours for the place to cool down. We sweated, tossed, packed, and weeded through her personal belongings, trying to keep as much as possible that she might use.  

After three exhausting hours, lots of water and hard work, we had many bags of trash, donations, and storage items, so called it a day. Loaded like the Clampetts, we were ready for Beverly Hills.

While I dreaded showing the damage to the van to my husband, blessedly he assured me that it could be repaired and not to worry about it. Because it was on a Saturday, we had to wait until Monday to call body shops for an estimate. We learned that the average wait time was two to three months, and the actual work would not occur until after the first of the new year.  

After getting a referral from a friend, I was able to secure an estimated appointment that week. My elation was short-lived when we were told that the cost was more than $6,000, and the earliest opening would be the first week of December. It will require three weeks to complete the work and our automobile insurance will secure a rental vehicle for us while the transformation occurs. 

In the future, I see a promising career ahead of me as a race car driver.

Copyright © 2023 Mary Margaret Lambert

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