When his wife died, the baby was two. They had six
other children - three boys and three girls, ranging in age
from 4 to 16.
A few days after he became a widower, the man's parents
and his deceased wife's parents came to visit.
"We've been talking," they said, "about how to make
this work. There's no way you can take care of all these
children and work to make a living. So, we've arranged for
each child to be placed with a different uncle and aunt.
We're making sure that all of your children will be living
right here in the neighborhood, so you can see them
"You have no idea how much I appreciate your
thoughtfulness," the man responded. "But I want you to
know," he smiled and continued, "If the children should
interfere with my work, or if we should need any help, we'll
let you know."
Over the next few weeks the man worked with his
children, assigning them chores and giving them
responsibilities. The two older girls, aged 12 and 10, began
to cook and do the laundry and household chores. The two
older boys, 16 and 14, helped their father with his farming.
But then another blow. The man developed arthritis. His
hands swelled, and he was unable to grip the handles of his
farm tools. The children shouldered their loads well, but
the man could see that he would not be able to continue in
this vein. He sold his farming equipment, moved the family
to a small town and opened a small business.
The family was welcomed into the new neighborhood. The
man's business flourished. He derived pleasure from seeing
people and serving them. Word of his pleasant personality
and excellent customer service began to spread. People came
from far and wide to do business with him. And the children
helped both at home and at work. Their father's pleasure in
his work brought satisfaction to them, and he drew pleasure
from their successes.
The children grew up and got married. Five of the seven
went off to college, most after they were married. Each one
paid his or her own way. The children's collegiate successes
were a source of pride to the father. He had stopped at the
Then came grandchildren. No one enjoyed grandchildren
more than this man. As they became toddlers, he invited them
to his workplace and his small home. They brought each other
Finally, the youngest daughter - the baby, who had been
two years old at her mother's death - got married.
And the man, his life's work completed, died.
This man's work had been the lonely but joyful task of
raising his family. This man was my father. I was the 16-
year-old, the oldest of seven.