Last January, Megan, one of my New Hampshire students, responded to the question, “who is the most ethical person you know?” with this essay about a neighborhood mom named Pat.
When most people think of an ethical person they think of Mother Teresa, Mohandas Gandhi or Jimmy Carter. They all did great things in their lifetime, which is why people know about them. What most people don’t realize though is that there are ethical people in our everyday lives.
My first and best friend, Connor and his family lived right down the road from me. So, being a kid, I spent a lot of time at their house. His mom, Pat, was a stay-at-home mom at the time, so I saw her almost every day. I never realized until taking this ethics course what an amazing person she is. She is ethical in every decision she makes. Whether it is deciding what she’ll do that day, or how she’ll raise her children, Pat is the most ethical person I know.
Pat never had a problem with being loyal. When I was younger, everyone in my neighborhood seemed to be getting a divorce. My parents did first, then the couple across the street, the people down the road, and the ones down the block. I think everyone in the neighborhood was waiting for Pat and her husband, Kevin, to get one. But deep down we all knew that wouldn’t happen. Pat has been married to Kevin for over 20 years now, and would never think of being with anyone else.
When my parents were going through their divorce, Pat was very respectful of my privacy. She knew that I was going through a hard time, so she never asked me to explain it. She never asked me how I felt about it either because she knew I wouldn’t want to talk about it. I needed the privacy that she gave me, because being in the 6th grade, every kid at school wanted to know what was going on. She helped me make sense of things on my own by respecting my privacy.
Honesty was another ethical principle Pat demonstrated. When Connor and I were children, we got to dog-sit for a week. The dog stayed at his house the entire time, and boy did we love her. We played with the dog every day and had an amazing time. One day after school when we got to his house, Pat sat us down and told us how the dog had gotten out of the house without a leash. The dog ran into the middle of the road where a truck hit her… she didn’t make it. Pat knew we would be devastated, but she also knew she had to tell us the truth.
Pat wasn’t always a stay-at-home mom. She became a kindergarten teacher when I was in middle school. Having two kids will definitely put your dreams off for a little while, but once she could, Pat did her best to live out those dreams. Her perseverance helped in getting her where she is today. Pat is still working at an elementary school as a kindergarten teacher because she never gave up.
Pat had two kids which would always lead to conflict. One kid would say one thing; the other would say something else. Even though there weren’t many fights between the two, Pat was always fair when it came to resolving fights. She would hear both sides of the story and determine the punishment afterwards.
The Golden Rule is a saying that Pat has always lived by. She has never been cruel to anyone and always thinks of others before herself. Whenever I visit, she’ll offer me a drink or some food before she takes the time to sit down. If she’s eating at the moment, she’ll stop and let her food get cold just so she can get you a glass of milk. She’s completely unselfish in everything she does.
Citizenship is something Pat models often. Whether it is helping out at the local jail, going to town meetings, or just helping out at any charity, Pat was there. Having a lot of relatives taken by cancer, she usually always donated money to any cancer research. Also, she would usually bring Connor and his sister with her. Her help to the community was recognized a few times in the local paper, but never on a national level.
For everything that Pat has done in her life, she should be famous. If everyone in the world knew what kind of person Pat was, she would be. She may not be an iconic legend like Mother Teresa, and she may also not have been a saint her entire life, but for my whole life, Pat has been the most ethical person I know. She is what I hope to become one day so that maybe my kids, or the neighborhood kids, will look up to me.