Giving Till it Hurts

by Steven Mansell
Downey, California, USA

When I was a kid, my brother Lee and I were close and played lots of games together. We used to walk around the house together so that Lee could interpret my sounds for the adults. I loved it since I didn’t have to articulate my desires but just grunted to Lee and then he told them what I wanted. It also made me the center of attention.

One day Lee and I were visiting our grandparents. They lived in a desert community of California on a parcel of land. Lee and I loved to visit Grandpa and Grandma’s place since there were so many places to investigate and it was so different from our suburb home. The place was teaming with curious bugs and animals like huge red ants, horned toads, birds and snakes. We took every opportunity to investigate these creatures. I remember digging up ant lions, putting them back and watching them dig their trap for the next ant that came along.

The only exception to our curiosity was Grandpa’s dog. I don’t remember his name, just that he was always angry and could not be trusted outside of his cage. He stood about a foot high but I was terrified of that dog and never went close to his cage if I could avoid it.

One day when I was about 5 and Lee was about 8, the dog got out of his cage and saw me walking in his path. That monster came at me with teeth bared and nothing but hatred for me. I took off running for the house as fast as I could, screaming for help. But I was no match for the dog’s speed and he was fast gaining on me. When Lee heard my cries for help he came running to help me. He got between the dog and me to allow me to run on ahead. But this meant the dog was after him now, and there was no one to help him. The dog bit him once on the thigh and twice on the shoulder before grandpa got there to pull the dog off.

Lee still has the scars of that horrifying experience to this day. I’m 48 now and I still have a vivid memory of running scared with the dog very close, but then it not being close as I made it to the house. I never saw the dog bite him but I can just imagine the horror on his face as he took the bites meant for me.

Each of us has people in our lives that influence us for good or bad. I’m here to say thanks to Lee for being an influence for good in my life, for showing me a prime example of sacrifice for others. Not just giving, but giving ’till it hurts. Thanks Lee.

Originally published as HeroicStories #118 on Feb 8, 2000
Available in The Best of HeroicStories, Volume 2.

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