DOING GOOD OR JUST A DO-GOODER?
This story takes me back a few years but I think of it many times, as I believe it had a great deal to do with the demise of my favorite aunt. Let me tell you the story, as I think that everyone reading this will be able to think of a circumstance in their own lives in which a similar-type event occurred.
My wonderful aunt, living in Van Went, Ohio, had a beauty salon attached to her house. It was divided only by an opening the size of a door, and my aunt could easily go from her small salon to her kitchen. I believe the salon could accommodate two hair-dryers, but it was common for the local women to gather and exchange stories and laugh, highlighting days that could have passed in a humdrum pattern. Most were elderly and widowed. When my aunt was not physically able to stand on her feet for several hours, she invited her daughter to “run the shop” whilst she visited the customers, sitting at her kitchen table. It was not unusual for her to make them a sandwich, or bring them tea. It was really the only socialization she experienced, as her knees were getting bad and walking was difficult.
Her daughter, my cousin, was happy to work the shop, as she could work there rent-free, and shared the day with her mother, as well. My aunt had just a little bit of property with a little house with a shop, causing no one any bother, and it made up the heart of their lives.
Until…one day…a “do-gooder” came to do an “inspection” at my aunt’s house, to make sure everything was up to “regulation”. It didn’t take her long to stiffen her back and become indignant and superior, chastising my aunt that her home with the beauty shop attached was not “up to code.” She angrily declared that it was not acceptable for the house to be attached to the beauty salon with the opening between the two. She demanded that the opening be closed, making the house separate from the salon. So, at my poor aunt’s expense the opening was closed. The result of this evil deed was to cause a separation between my elderly aunt and the beauty salon patrons. No longer could she bake goodies or take tea to the customers sitting under hairdryers or sitting around chatting. The isolation was numbing. It took life as she knew it and put her in a prison so that she could be “up to code”. In order to get to the salon, she would have to go out the front door and walk around the house to the back. Her knees were not able. The customers who talked freely through the door opening began to go home after their hair appointments. They drifted away, after a while, not taking the extra time to go around the house and in the front door, one-by-one, to pass the time of day with my aunt. Everything changed.
My aunt became isolated and alone. Her daughter, who worked the shop had her own family, so instead of chatting back and forth all day, she went home to her family after work. In my mind, the “do-gooder” killed my aunt. She took away her life, changing a happy, laughing, sweet person, into an empty shell. Thank heavens for my dear mother, who went to visit her once a week, even though it took at least a half hour to get there, and Mom was in declining years. Besides that, my aunt was her sister-in-law, not her own sister. Yet, she kept the vigil every week. I guess there must have been a friend or two who must have stopped in once in a while, but nothing was ever the same. She died not too long after.
I have thought this many times, and wish that after the “do-gooder” was satisfied that her wishes had been carried out, and “regulation” met, someone would have gone in and tore down the partition that separated her from her life. With my aunt being a law-abiding citizen she probably would not have done so. How different her last years would have been if that someone had seen the sense in doing good, rather than being a “do-gooder”. Following rules have not been taken to heart for my siblings and me. I think my brother summed it up best: “It’s better to apologize later than ask permission first.” That’s what we do and that’s how we think. I wish my aunt had not let someone who was not even involved with her life force a decision on her that destroyed her life. I wish I could go back and tear down that wall!
Be a thinker. If you aren’t hurting anyone, do what is best for you.