Have you ever had someone in your life that was always there for you? That’s my cousin Manny!
My mom was always mad at me. I was always really bad at stuff girls were supposed to do. If I watched my little brothers and sister, I let them escape. If I tried to cook something, I always burned it. My mom said I couldn’t even clean house right because I missed everything. I would always try to escape to Aunt Mary’s house after school.
She was supposed to send me home, but she never did. She would give me a snack and send me to the shop. Manny worked with my Uncle Joe. They had their own cabinet shop -- “Joseph & Son Custom Cabinets.” I’d walk in and Manny would smile at me, and give me a hug.
I remember one of our conversations like it was yesterday.
“Bad, day at home?”
“Liz, the things your mom is trying to teach you aren’t bad! You need to know them, or you will starve or burn your house down, but they’re not who you are. You have a lot of talent. I know that while you can’t cook so well, your needlework is extraordinary. You are very gifted.”
He hugged me. “However, when you keep being disrespectful to your mom, you don’t get to do your needlework because she’s mad at you, and God won’t bless you unless you honor your parents.”
“Ok, so maybe I could honor my mom, and do what she asks more, but what do I do about my dad? There’s nothing there to respect and honor.”
“Elizabeth!” He rarely sounded so harsh “Don’t speak about your father that way! He may not always be the kindest person in the world, but your respect for him is supposed to be because God commands it. If God only loved you because you deserve it, you wouldn’t have any love, would you?”
“Why are you sticking up for him? He really hates you.” Oops, I can’t believe I said that. My dad really doesn’t like Manny, but it’s supposed to be a secret. Dad said that it’s not proper to air our dirty laundry in public.
“I’m well aware how your father feels about me. There may come a time in his life when he will change his mind. For now, let me worry about that, and you worry about respecting him.” He finished his rebuke with another hug.
I couldn’t understand why he said that. My dad was so hateful about Manny. He said he didn’t understand how come Joseph treated him so well. He would laugh and say “Joseph & Son! Yeah, right!” My mom would hush him up. I never understood their whispers, but our whole town talked about Manny – especially because he wasn’t married. You don’t get to be almost 30, and not married. Even I knew that at 12.
Shortly after that conversation Manny went away. I missed him terribly. He was travelling all over preaching to people. My dad always had the comment. “Yeah, some preacher! He’s just another hippy.”
I don’t have time to go into the rest of Manny’s life. It would take too long. Suffice it to say that He changed all of our lives, even my dad's.
You can read more about Manny, which was our nickname for Emmanuel. He is better known by his other name which is Jesus. To read more about Him, all you have to do is read one of the gospel accounts of his life. I like the book of Matthew because it includes a lot of His preaching.
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