The Well Magazine Fall/Winter 2013 - Page 14

How We Choose Family and Friends By John W. Fountain The following is a column by award-winning Chicago SunTimes columnist, author and publisher John W. Fountain that was published August 18, 2011. M y mother’s doorbell chimed one recent sunny afternoon while I was visiting. I don’t know how I knew it was the Jehovah’s Witnesses as my mother answered the front door. Maybe it was their tone—official and yet filled with a kindness that rang in their voices. Sure enough, it was them, I determined after hearing them ask if they could come in and “share.” My first inclination was to quickly shoo them away, partly out of having been raised in a Pentecostal Bible-thumping church and taught to repel those who didn’t completely share our beliefs. It was soon clear they had been there before, and the conversation that ensued—about my mother’s health, about how she was feeling and getting along— and the sense I detected of their genuine concern for her as a human being made me see them less as “the enemy” and more as her friends, if not a kind of extended family. It also got me thinking again about