‘Nobody except Dad was willing to help him, and he would remember that as long as he lived’

Background: Tim Russert’s Wisdom of Our Fathers has hundreds of stories men and women tell about their fathers. It’s a remarkable book–to learn more, see my co-authored column America’s Father Hunger (World Net Daily, 10/13/06). The story below is “Mr. Strawberry” from Joseph Harrison Kelly of Bordentown, NJ, about his father, Joseph Harold Kelly, a store owner (1925-2003). “When I was ten and helping out my dad’s liquor store, a man walked in looking disheveled and confused. He told Dad he had no money, his car had broken down, and he was trying to get home. Without hesitation, my father gave the man twenty dollars and called him a cab.
“‘Dad,’ I said, ‘that guy was a bum. Why did you do that?’ “He said he could see from the man’s eyes he was telling the truth and was in trouble. “The following Christmas Eve, flowers were delivered to our business, addressed to Joseph Kelly and his son, wishing us a merry Christmas and signed Mr. Strawberry. For the next forty years, the flowers came without fail. I finally asked Mr. Strawberry, who had become a regular customer, why he sent us flowers every year. He told me that on one of the worst days of his life, on one of the hottest days of the year, his car broke down and he, a black man, was then mugged by three white teenagers while he was trying to get help. His insulin was low, he was dazed and confused, nobody except Dad was willing to help him, and he would remember that as long as he lived.”

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