My wife left at 5:45 AM this morning, headed for Toledo Hospital to meet with the doctor making early-morning rounds. A terribly ill African woman lies in bed awaiting the news of her latest blood tests and my wife wanted to be there to help the patient understand the results and diagnosis. The woman is from Burundi, a nation carved out of the former Belgian Congo. She, a Hutu, married a Tutsi, the major players in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide affair- the power-vacuum that occurred when the Belgians decided to leave Africa.
They fled Burundi during that time of wanton killing to seek political refuge in the United States. He became a professor at the university, but died a few years thereafter from a parasite which entered his body as a child while swimming in a lake near his home. Today, his wife is battling the same parasite which has attacked her liver.
My wife learned much of the empathy she exhibits from her father, an ordinary man, former Fuller Brush salesman. He never asked if he should help people, he just did. Clearly he didn't learn it in church nor by reading the Bible. That was not part of his daily living. Nor did my wife learn her compassion in the church pews. Although she attends church fairly regularly, she is by no means 'churchy' and most importantly, neither is she preachy. One's religious affiliation, if any, is of little concern to my wife. When she sees or hears of a person in need, she acts out of simple human kindness.
On the Enneagram scale she is a Two. That number is defined, The Helper. The opening description of a Two begins, Twos are empathetic, sincere, and warm-hearted. They are friendly, generous, and self-sacrificing... Five forty-five in the morning fits the 'self-sacrificing' point quite well. She was also a CASA and helped many children through the difficult phase of abandonment and/or neglect as they were shuttled from one foster home to the next.
I'm tooting her horn because she never will. I'm glad to have met her those 4 decades ago. Many children and adults in the Toledo area are much better off [as am I] for her involvement in their lives. Hat's off to my caring and giving wife!