I was going to share a sad story with you about my sweet Mr. Buttery boy because yesterday was his birthday. He would have been 13 years old. But he died 5 years ago as a martyr.
Anyways, I will spare you the tear-jerking tale (this time!) of his asceticism and passing and tell you kind of a funny dog story instead to get my point across.
The point of this post is to talk about doing the right thing. The right thing can change from moment to moment, and you will know you got it right when you feel it in your heart.
When I was young, I was often a jerk to my little brother and sister. I bossed them around as any true big sister would. I tried to get my way all the time because, of course, I was entitled as the oldest.
One summer day I was feeling extra hungry for lunch, so I asked my dad for two hot dogs with my macaroni and cheese instead of one. Right. Like I could eat two.
After I finished one hot dog and my cheesy bowl of noodle goodness, I looked at that second hot dog and thought, "Oof. I can't eat that!"
But instead of being a good person and leaving it on my plate, offering it to someone else or tossing it back into the boiled hot dog water, I snuck it in my hand and dropped it into the garbage can.
Seemed like a good plan, right?
It might have been if I was smart enough not to throw it where I did... in the living room trash can... right next to my dad's comfy chair... on top of all the tissues and wrappers.
A couple hours later, my dad asked, "Ahhh, who threw their hot dog in this garbage can?"
"Not me!" I said.
"Not me!" Katie said.
"Not me!" Matt said.
This did not fly with Daddy Wonderful. While some dad's might have threatened with a belt, he took a different tactic. He was a very loving dad who did his best to raise us with dignity -- not lying about a hot dog in his garbage can.
"I'll ask you again," he continued. "Who threw their hot dog in the garbage?"
Three more denials.
I think that, more than anything, he was shocked that his kids would lie to him. Especially about something so trite.
"Okay, then. You each have one more chance to tell the truth," he said as he broke the room temperature link into three bits. "If nobody tells me the truth, you will all get to eat a piece."
He almost could have had me at that point. I know where that hot dog landed.
But I already started my lie and I was too stubborn to go back. Besides, it was only my little brother and sister who were going to get punished too. My six-year-old self didn't think they were that important.
That does not mean they were happy about it. Or that it was fair to them.
"Not me," we all said again.
My father, following through on his word as he should have, reluctantly handed us each a piece.
"Here you go then," he said, still expecting one of us to cave.
As I held that cold, sweaty piece of meat in my fingers, I almost gagged. I had one more chance to fess up and back out of such a disgusting feat.
But the same sheisty little part of me that got us me into that mess was going to keep me in it.
Oh, man. That was terrible. No ketchup or anything. Plus the terrible feeling that I held fast to a lie to my sweet father and put my siblings through unnecessary roughness.
I was in high school when I admitted to my family that it was me. I remember because I wrote a paper about it in English class.
My dad said he felt pretty guilty about that, but we all lived, and I deserved it. It would be nice to say that I learned an important lesson about telling the truth, but that would not be the last lie I had to battle through in my youth.
Today, however, I feel that it's much easier to tell the truth right away. Then the other people involved are not so confused. And I don't have to remember what I already said. Or backtrack. Or rehearse the next thing I need to say over and over and over in my brain.
I just get to clear my conscience and move on with life. You know what the best part is? The other person usually isn't even mad once you fess up that you made a mistake because that is hard to do.
But doing the hard things gets you way farther when they are the right things.
If you ever find yourself in a moral jam, just ask yourself, "What is the right thing to do here? What is going to be best for everybody in the long run?"
If you can be honest, forthcoming and considerate of all parties involved, then you are on the right track, no matter what. Even if you feel like you don't get the best deal right away about doing what is right, you will be rewarded in the end. Or the next day. I don't know, I am just telling you what I notice about life.
Onward and upward!