Saturday, October 17, 2015

"William Larkin Porter, Junior. July 4, 1928 - October 17 2015."

That ten word headline summarizes this news this week regarding the father of one of my best friends in the world, Mike Porter.  In no way do those words sum up the man. Nor are they supposed to.  It's not my place to try to do that either.  That honor and privilege belongs to the man’s son.

I can, however, and will recall the one particular life-changing act of kindness that came my way many  years ago because of the late Mr. Porter and his wife, an act that arguably put me on a better path.  I was maybe 18 years old was going through a very emotionally troubling period in my life.  On that very night at my own home I was  having a crisis of an evening filled with suicidal thoughts and ideation, and inappropriate language and behavior.  My father objected to the way I was talking to my mother and girlfriend – a dispute that culminated in him tossing the both of us (me and the girl) out on the street in a freezing, steady downpour--without my glasses. (For the record I'll admit to having treated my girlfriend very immaturely, but nothing crossed the line to anything illegal, immoral, or violent.  The girl had done absolutely nothing wrong; my father's treatment of her was beyond disgraceful).  I remember after being expelled from my dad’s home that at the end of this 25-minute walk to the closest pay phone, her hair was as frozen as mine; you can’t imagine how mortifying that was.  When I reached that phone, I placed a call to Mr. Porter, and asked him whether he might be willing to drive cross town that night (a 35 minute drive) to rescue  me and my girl from our frozen hair and from my own personal idiocy, and to help me get my girlfriend home since Dad had confiscated my car.  Mr. Porter did all this without batting an eye, sheltering us from the ravages of a Memphis ice storm and then taking me the next morning to retrieve my clothes from my home and then moving me to an aunt's loft—no questions asked.  This helped get me back on track more ways than I can describe.  How do you thank someone for that?  Really, you can't. But mentioning it every now and then in tones of admiration doesn't hurt.

Bottom line:  Mike and his family were a huge help to me on an emotionally trying weekend when I desperately needed the proper help and guidance.  That night could have gone either way.  I could have had it pointed out to  me what a schmuck I was and been told in no uncertain terms to clean up my own mess—which would have been perfectly fair and reasonable but probably would have left me incredibly embittered.  Or I could have been shown some life-affirming human compassion that I did not deserve nor did I have coming to me, but which I desperately needed.  I got the latter—and I promise you, I learned from it.  

From where I sit – Mike, you are a blessed human being to have had this man in your life.  We both were.

My condolences at  your loss.


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