When I was about 8 years old living on Hurd Street in Fitchburg, Massachusetts I came home one day after being with my friend Tommy and presented my Mom with a handful of Rhubarb. When she asked me where I had gotten it from, I explained to her that Tommy and I had picked it from the woods behind his house as the rhubarb had spread from the neighbors garden. My Mom informed me that this was Rhubarb grown by someone else and that I had taken it without permission. She required me to return to the scene of the crime!!! I was instructed to take my own money, return to the house that grew the rhubarb, tell the owner what I did, show him what I picked and pay him. When I was greeted with a smile from an older man, I explained to him what I had done and he started to laugh and said don’t worry about it. I told him that I had to pay him for the rhubarb or my Mom would not be happy with me and he gladly accepted a penny and thanked me for my honesty.
50 years later, I find an 8 year old boy unattended picking a shirt full of unripe apples from my farm. I approach the boy and inform him that he cannot do that and ask him to take me to his parents. The boy walks with me to his Mom and he shows her his bounty. I tell her that he has about $20 dollars worth of apple cradled in his shirt. She says “thank you.”, grabs her son’s hand and walks away!
I walk away thinking about how lucky I am to have parents that taught me and guided me to understand right and wrong. It would have been so easy for my Mom to have accepted my story but instead she saw a lesson that I needed to learn.