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  • The Broker

    March 2, 2007

    My father-in-law George is a sweet and gentle man with a heart as big as the ocean. He never raises his voice. If he’s really really mad, he might say “damn”. That’s the only way you know he’s really mad because he doesn’t raise his voice. And let me add that in the eleven years I’ve known him, I’ve only heard him utter that word one time. Truly, he is a servant of God who looks after widows and orphans in their distress. But don’t mess with him.

    A while back George took his car to be washed. When it was done, he got back into his car to find that a roll of quarters was missing from the glove box. George went inside and spoke to the manager and politely asked for his quarters back. George is not a big guy. With a head of thick silver hair and a cane, he’s not an imposing presence. I’m sure when the carwash manager saw George, he figured he would blow him off like a ripe dandelion.

    The manager all but said I don’t have your quarters old man and why don’t you scram. But George wouldn’t budge. George said that was fine, that he would just hang around and talk to all the customers until he got his quarters back. In about ten minutes the manager handed him his roll of quarters. George thanked him very much and went on about his business. George brokered a deal for everyone to do the right thing without causing a stink and that’s a quality in him that I really admire.

    Across the street from my in-laws house is a park that covers one city block. It is filled with big gnarly twisting ancient oaks which shade the 1950’s space age inspired playground equipment, a basketball court, a picnic area and lots of open space to run and play.

    In the middle of the park is a large granite stone that is engraved with the message that the park was donated to the children of Tuna in 1947 in memory of Janis by her mother. I don’t know what happened to Janis or how old she was when she died, but it’s touching to think of all the children that have played in that park under the shade of those trees, whose children now play in that park and even grandchildren, Sean included.

    Recently a big cell phone service provider came through Tuna and decided that a good place to erect a cell tower would be smack dab in the middle of the park, leveling most of the ancient oaks, leaving only the margins of the park and thusly rendering it no longer a park for all intents and purposes.

    In exchange for obliterating the park, the generous BCS (big corporate schmucks) were willing to compensate Tuna with rent of about $1000 a month. It is my impression that the Tuna powers-that-be were salivating at the thought of all that money pouring into the city coffers and maybe even the idea that they would no longer have to maintain the park. And certainly the dumb people of Tuna would go for that. The notice of their intent and the date of the hearing was surreptitiously buried in the back of the local newspaper. Unfortunately for them, not much gets by George and he was on the case.

    George was the only one who showed up at the hearing. When BCS saw the sight of an unassuming elderly man leaning on his cane, they probably figured they had a ripe dandelion in their sights. But like the car wash manager, they would be wrong. George stood up and made his case on behalf of the children of Tuna. And whatever he said, it was enough to convince the board to kill the issue. For the time being or until they figured George had forgotten about it.

    Across the street from the park is a building that used to be owned by the Baptist church which moved to a new and larger location several years ago. The property is currently owned by another religious organization whose primary purpose is to house a food bank for the needy. After the meeting, George visited with the pastor of the church/food bank and told him that if he were willing, he could rent his parking lot to BCS for over $1000 a month, income the food bank sorely needs. Within a few days, the deal was inked.

    Thanks to George’s brokering skills, BCS will plant their cell tower in an unused parking lot, the food bank will earn some much needed income and the giant oaks will continue to shade the children of Tuna as they play in the park and little Janis will continue to rest in peace – a win-win-win-win deal for all parties.

    Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.Matthew 5:9

    UPDATE:  It is one year later and George reports that the cell tower was finally installed and that the church is now able to provide groceries for 50 families every Monday. This is a congregation of about 50 people feeding 50 families every Monday. I think that is amazing. And I’m so proud of my Papa George and they way he goes about quietly ministering to people behind the scenes.


    1. Antique Mommy says:

      I write this post not so much for those of you in the blogosphere, but for Sean, so that someday he might really know and understand what it means to love and serve and how lucky we are to be a part of Papa George’s family.

      March 2nd, 2007 at 7:26 am

    2. Jeana says:

      I love that story.

      March 2nd, 2007 at 7:37 am

    3. Fiddledeedee (It Coulda' Been Worse) says:

      I’m pretty sure I want to move to Tuna, and live next door to George. I think he should run for president in two years as well.

      March 2nd, 2007 at 7:40 am

    4. Susan Joyce says:

      Thank you for this inspiring post. Oh that we would all go and do likewise!!!

      March 2nd, 2007 at 7:47 am

    5. Marian says:

      What a wonderful story.

      While I’m here: It was a post you did a while ago that made me think this, but I never commented. Many great writers have the gift of observing ordinary events and ordinary people, and extracting that which is poignant, absurd, profound or funny, and presenting it very accessibly to others. You have that gift in abundance! Thank you for sharing that gift, and the people in your life with us. Some comedians have a portion of this gift in extracting the funny and absurd (think Jerry Seinfeld!), but you do well on all sides of that sphere.

      Also just have to say that I thought of you the other day when I was in WalMart behind a certain woman in an electric cart… !

      Have a great day.

      March 2nd, 2007 at 7:54 am

    6. It's a Mom Thing says:

      I wish there were more people like George in our world. They are either fewer and farther between or our nasty world shades their gentle firmness too much. I liked that story!

      March 2nd, 2007 at 8:07 am

    7. Neighbor Jane Payne says:

      Beautiful post. I love the story behind the story.

      March 2nd, 2007 at 8:17 am

    8. Shalee says:

      I want to meet George and give him a big hug. What a man…

      March 2nd, 2007 at 8:22 am

    9. An Iowa Mom says:

      We need more people like George in the world.


      March 2nd, 2007 at 8:31 am

    10. veronica says:

      What a beautiful story and what a beautiful man.

      March 2nd, 2007 at 8:33 am

    11. Gina says:

      Beautiful, inspiring story. We definitely need more people like George, people who see injustices & find solutions, people who know what is right & stick to it. I want to raise my children to be a “George” in their part of the world.

      March 2nd, 2007 at 8:34 am

    12. bee says:

      AFIL will go on my list of favorite Georges… right behind George Clooney (I just can’t bear to know him out of the top spot)…
      Great story. Thank you for sharing George with us!

      March 2nd, 2007 at 8:52 am

    13. Karen says:

      I’m thinking the same thing as Fiddledeedee. And we definitely need more George’s in the world…but it starts with ME. Thanks for the fab post!

      March 2nd, 2007 at 10:12 am

    14. Michelle-This One's for the Girls says:

      Next time you come to KC Bloggers luncheon– bring George!!! 🙂

      March 2nd, 2007 at 10:26 am

    15. Chris says:

      Aww, that was sweet. I would love to have George in my corner. You are very lucky. Sounds like George does “walk softly and carries a big stick”. Lucky Sean as well. 😉

      March 2nd, 2007 at 10:29 am

    16. Chilihead says:

      George is my kind of guy. I could learn much from him.

      March 2nd, 2007 at 10:29 am

    17. Angela says:

      I am SO glad you posted this. What a wonderful legacy George is leaving for Sean. I never knew my grandfather but I have a lot of pride in the legacy he left, to be his granddaughter, and even more proud of the name he left when I meet people who were in on the deals he “brokered” in his community.
      The world needs more Georges.

      March 2nd, 2007 at 10:40 am

    18. Susan J. says:

      George rocks.

      March 2nd, 2007 at 10:44 am

    19. truevyne says:

      I love this man!

      March 2nd, 2007 at 11:12 am

    20. sarahgrace says:

      Bless your FIL…sounds like a great man!

      March 2nd, 2007 at 11:20 am

    21. Shannon says:

      George is awesome. I wish more people had half of his character.

      March 2nd, 2007 at 11:55 am

    22. Jennifer says:

      Your father-in-law sounds like a wonderful man. We need more of those. Lucky you to be married to his son. 🙂

      March 2nd, 2007 at 11:59 am

    23. Beck says:

      Geeeeeeez. I just read that out loud to my youngest brother and I couldn’t read the final two paragraphs because I was crying so hard.

      March 2nd, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    24. Southern Girl says:

      What a precious man! I know you said you wrote this story mostly for Sean, but I appreciated it more than you’ll know. Made me all teary. Tuna’s blessed to have a man of quality like George as a citizen.

      March 2nd, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    25. Shannon White says:

      Slap me, call me stupid and sell me the movie rights! This makes me want to know your father-in-law. I can just see it now- what a great movie.

      March 2nd, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    26. blog_antagonist says:

      George sounds like a very special guy. I enjoyed reading about him very much. :?)

      March 2nd, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    27. Romie says:

      Had to add my two cents of how great this story is. If you ever see George, you must tell him that we all think he is the best!!!

      March 2nd, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    28. Lundie says:


      March 2nd, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    29. Tara says:


      March 2nd, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    30. Debbie says:

      George sounds wonderful! I wish we all were more like him! The world would be a much better place.

      March 2nd, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    31. ewe_are_here says:

      Go George!
      This is a great post!

      March 2nd, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    32. diana says:

      George is a gem !!

      March 2nd, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    33. Lucy says:

      Great story!!! You go, George!!!

      March 2nd, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    34. dcrmom says:

      What an awesome story! And you tell it so well.

      March 2nd, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    35. Linda says:

      I don’t know whether to cry or cheer. I love your Uncle George. I wish we had had him here when we were fighting the big box store that turned our neighborhood into a big, fat eye-sore. We fought so hard. In our case, we couldn’t fight City Hall.
      Sean will be proud.

      March 2nd, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    36. sweatpantsmom says:

      What a great post. I HEART GEORGE!

      March 2nd, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    37. Elizabeth says:

      Go, Papa George! And may Sean one day follow in those awesome, peacemaking footsteps.

      March 2nd, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    38. Big Mama says:

      George is a man among men. I love this story.

      March 2nd, 2007 at 5:33 pm

    39. Jungle Mom says:

      I saw a lnk to your blog on another blog and your title caught my attention. I enjoyed this post very much and must come back to read more.

      March 2nd, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    40. Heather L. says:

      How awesome is George?!!?!! I wish he lived in our town!
      The other night, I had a dream I met you. I asked to meet Sean and when we went looking for him, found a note that said he had tucked himself into Wivian’s suitcase. LOL!

      March 2nd, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    41. Tamara says:

      George for President!!!

      March 2nd, 2007 at 7:37 pm

    42. Roxanne says:

      Okay. . .you just never cease to amaze me. I wish I had George’s address so I could send him a huge case of canned peaches. I would do it too.

      March 2nd, 2007 at 7:46 pm

    43. Marian says:

      “Speak softly and carry a big stick…” or cane, as the case may be.

      March 2nd, 2007 at 9:58 pm

    44. Linds says:

      What I find so incredibly inspiring about this post is that Grandpa George never had to lose his temper, or create a scene or become confrontational. He just went about his business and sorted it. Sean is a lucky young boy. We all can learn from Grandpa George. Can he please start a world trip. I need him here too.

      March 3rd, 2007 at 6:54 am

    45. Antique Mommy says:

      I know. I wish I were like that. My confrontation technique is: calm, voice quiver, snide remark, mild threat, tears, high skreechy voice through tears and snot, stomping off with hands in pocket to avoid rude gesture. Never works.

      March 3rd, 2007 at 7:00 am

    46. Jodi says:

      I’m with Fiddledeedee…Grandpa George for President!

      March 3rd, 2007 at 10:38 am

    47. Kathy says:

      Wow. He really is a blessed peacemaker. Thanks for sharing.

      March 3rd, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    48. Beth F. says:

      I.LOVE.GEORGE. If we could all have a little bit of George in us, the world would be a much kinder place.

      Great entry.

      March 3rd, 2007 at 10:02 pm

    49. Jenney says:

      Wow!! I have chills! That’s an amazing story!! Thank you so much for sharing it!

      Your FIL sounds like a wonderful man!!!

      March 4th, 2007 at 7:00 am

    50. Mommy Dearest says:

      That George is one awesome fellow: a servant, a peacemaker, and a pretty wily adversary all in one!

      March 5th, 2007 at 8:44 am

    51. Carola says:

      He is such an example…I get mad so easily it’s absurd, because I never get what I want, I make the other people mad, I get frustrated and even more angry, and so it’s usually a lose-lose-lose situation…oh I wish I (and everyone) were more like George.

      March 5th, 2007 at 11:26 am

    52. Alice-Anne says:

      Well, I am several days behind in my blog reading and just got to this. What a wonderful post– with a happy ending. I was teary through the whole thing. I am so glad it ended well. George is an amazing force. My own father was a kind and gentle man who rarely got angry– and his name was George!

      March 7th, 2007 at 10:36 am

    53. JIMHITE says:

      “For evil to triumph, all a good man has to do is nothing”…..George is a GO-GETTER. Great job Uncle George!

      March 9th, 2007 at 3:40 am

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