“Pride Before and After a Fall,” March 12, 2019

What do you do for someone who seems weary? I do three things: I tell them to get some rest; ask them how I can help; and pray that they’ll feel better.

I like to think it helps. But for some reason, when I get weary, I ignore my own advice. Instead of resting, I keep going; instead of getting help, I get by on my own; and instead of praying to get better, I get cranky.

My mother called it pride. If I said I was tired, she’d say, “You are too proud to slow down and ask for help and you know what the Bible says about pride!”

It was one of her favorite verses, Proverbs 16:18: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

I may be proud, but not like my brother. Joe mixes pride with a truck load of stubborn and takes haughty to a whole new level. It made our mother double up on her nerve pills.

“He’d rather choke to death on a pork chop,” she’d say, “than let me cut it up for him!”

Was he was born that way? Maybe. Proud and stubborn were middle names in our family. But I think he also learned them to survive.

Totally blind and severely impaired by cerebral palsy, Joe seemed hell-bent, even as a little boy, to find his way in a dark world on his own. He never wanted help of any kind and resented being forced to accept it. His one exception was asking me to be his eyes.

“Sister,” he’d say, turning his face to the warmth of the sun, “tell me what that looks like.”

Have you ever tried to describe a sunrise or a breeze or a live chicken to someone who’s never seen one? It’s not easy. If I fell short, he’d say, “No, Sister, that’s not it. Try again.”

Joe spent what he calls the best 10 years of his life married to Tommie Jean. She, too, was blind. They’d walk hand in hand with Joe leading with his cane, talking and laughing at things they “saw” along the way.

It’s been almost 15 years since he lost her to cancer. He says he still “talks” to her every day. Or he did, until he broke his ankle. Just before Christmas, he fell in his apartment and spent two months in a rehab facility where his roommate apparently liked to talk the chicken off the bone.

“It was a nice place,” Joe said. “They were good to me and the food wasn’t bad. I appreciated it. But I’m used to being on my own. I liked the poor old fella, but he talked my ear off and turned his TV up too loud. I couldn’t hear myself think.”

Last week, Joe was finally released and called right away.

“Sister,” he said, “I am back home in my apartment and I just made myself two of the best fried baloney sandwiches I ever put in my mouth!”

It was great to hear him sound so happy. We live thousands of miles apart but talk fairly often. Yesterday when I called, he seemed a bit weary.

“I haven’t walked much in two months and my legs have gotten weaker. You know what they say, you’ve got to use it or lose it? Well, I feel like I’ve lost it and it’s never coming back.”

“That’s how I felt, too,” I said, “when I broke my ankle two years ago. It’s hard. Just try to keep moving. Use your walker and your leg braces so you don’t fall again. Sooner or later, you’ll get your legs back.”

“I hope so,” Joe said. “I start therapy next week. They say it’ll help, but I tire pretty quick.”

“Pace yourself,” I said. “Do as much as you can, take a break to rest, then do some more. It will help. You’ll like it.”

“Thank you, Sister,” he said, “but I don’t need you to tell me what to do or how to do it.”

“I know,” I said. “You don’t need my help, either, do you?”

He laughed. “I appreciate the offer, but I’ll be fine.”

Yes, he will. He’ll be fine and proud and pigheaded as ever.

So we said goodbye.

And I started praying.



  1. Sally Brown says

    Wish we could all be a bit more like a Joe!

  2. David Draisen says

    Great as always. Unfortunately was not in the Anderson Independent Mail.

  3. Cathy Rhyne says

    As always you touch my heart! I’m so grateful for your weekly column.

  4. Neva Moten says

    Thank you Sharon Randall…Please Please…another book..

  5. Margie Poe says

    I like to think that all of us—your admirers and ardent fans—find a common thread that is woven through all our lives in everything you share—I know that I do! 💞

  6. I don’t know Joe at all, but I love me some Joe! I want him to go to a Clemson game so bad! Bless him! Praying for Joe to get the strength back in his legs! Thanks Sharon! Love your stories!

  7. Betty McNall says

    Prayers and good wishes for a recovery!

  8. Sharon I have read your stories and have enjoyed them for years. They always end up giving a bit of a misty eye. I love your ability that makes me along with other readers a part of your family. Please do not retire. Love the stories about your brother. They all have such a wonderful ability touch the soul in a warm and wonderful way. Thank you so much!

  9. Prayers for Joe. I am always uplifted by reading your column. Thanks Dava

  10. Joyce Bock says

    I loved the phrase “talk the chicken off the bone.” I plan to use it alot for years to come!
    Love, Joyous

  11. Patsy E Koon says

    Your stories make me smile and sometimes a tear will fall. You give me hope that life changes for the better in spite of what is happening right at this time.
    I do admire your brother Joe and his determination to make it on his own. I think he gets great delight in being his own boss. You, his biggest fan, loved to let him do it.
    Thank you for your true to life stores. I love them all.

  12. Your stories about your brother Joe are my favorites. I admire him so much thank you Sharon.

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