June, 2008 – Graduation Sunday – the day for the church to honor her graduates…
As youth coach and mentor, I had my usual 30 brilliant ideas and last-minute to-do’s with top priority.
(Demand/Control: surrender 10, delegate 5, and receive 5 more)
…and the clock was spinning…
(I think it goes into hyper-drive right before deadlines)
…and the power went out – no lights, no music, no piano player…
I’m a little stubborn about the sentimental and ceremonial things, so when the last minute had passed,
I stepped to the front of the sanctuary and prepared to welcome our parade of graduates.
I asked the congregation to ‘sing’ Pomp & Circumstance
(daahh, dah-de-da, dah, dah…)
There’s nothing quite like the sight & sound of 40-70 people of every age becoming a vocal orchestra to perform a song we hear once annually (if that). I’m rather certain it has become my favorite rendition.
At which point I completely lost my mind and started rambling about each one of my darlings that were about to go off and join the big world… Some of them have moved forward with their declared plans, some have moved forward with new plans – but all have grown up, and I’m as proud of them as I ever was.
In the mid 1960’s, a handsome airman pursued a lovely young lady who caught his eye in the church they attended. No sooner were they married when he received orders to go overseas for a time, and his bride moved across the country to join his family while he was away. In due time, I was born there, where I napped in my grandfather’s arms, my aunt fussed over me like a baby doll, and my uncle tried to teach me to burp (the lesson caught on many years later). Air Force life took us to Arizona, Taiwan, and Myrtle Beach before we settled in Ohio.
Rare fortune, also known as Divine Plan, arranged for our family to be stationed with two other families on multiple occasions while in the military. One family included an adopted daughter, an Asian child, as beloved a member of the family as her older brothers. One family included a mentally retarded son and a deaf aunt. In my toddlerhood, I was already beginning to learn that God made as many different people as He made different kinds of animals, a blessed lesson not afforded to everyone. The world of my childhood included the Jewish lady my mom worked for, the large Catholic family down the street, and the nurse next door with her son who had Down’s Syndrome and her daughter who adopted two boys, one white, one black. Prejudice has never been an active word in my vocabulary, and diversity is a matter of fact, thanks to my parents.
It was my parents who showed me through random events over many years to honor friends, greet strangers, help in a time of need, sit with the grieving, compete heartily, and embrace variety. I watched how they handled ‘for better or worse’, ‘for richer or poorer’, and ‘in sickness and health’, and I watch still. Life included a sudden layoff, handyman jobs all over town (and with them, a wider pool of different people), pots of chili for my father and his coworkers when they were up to their knees in the icy water of water lines frozen to the breaking point, annual surgeries to treat mom’s benign but aggressive cyst disease, and too many deaths in the extended family over too few years. In between these, our home was open to parties and bonfires and teenagers from our church. There was a time when oatmeal, s.o.s., and two Arby’s $1 sandwiches split three ways were common meals. I actually miss those days, because they were never made to be about money, they were just the menu du jour.
Thanks to Dad, I know how to identify and use a variety of hand and power tools, troubleshoot and resolve issues with the commode, change the oil & tires on my car, and have a B.S. alarm go off when some repairman forgets there’s a brain beneath my blonde hair. Thanks to Mom, I can go from gardening in cutoffs to dining and dancing at a black tie affair, and any event between. Because they worked both in front of me and with me, I have what it takes to build a house, decorate it, clean it, pack it up, tear it down, and sort raw materials from rubble to make something else. Between the two of them, I learned how to tear down and rebuild furniture, machines, jigsaw and logic puzzles, math problems, and words with equal ease. Because they borrowed or built whatever was needed to do any job or craft, I can too, with wood, fabric, or several other mediums. Creativity, adaptability, and sustainability are gifts this generation cries out for, gifts my parents gave me.
On the weekend of her 50th birthday, Mom graduated with the first of two Bachelor’s degrees, earned while working a full time job that included two years of weekly out of town travel. Wrapped up in that statement is perseverance, dedication, second chances, late nights, family pride, and a moment embedded in our memories that can still cause us to laugh until tears roll. Four years ago, I asked for their support in my decision to return to school to complete my Bachelor’s degree. Once again, we explore perseverance, dedication, second (make that third) chances, late nights, family pride, and I’m a little worried that Mom will get an opportunity to return the favor of the memorable moment.
There are a million stories… cross country trips, camping clubs, the hunt for a purple bunny, motorcycle traditions, a blue ambulance before the age of cell phones, the day Dad & I both arrived home from the store without Mom, the weekend we built a house, adventures in foster care, a giant snow family, and there’s no forgetting the popsicle-stick Fort Washington, large enough to consume the entire area under a twin bed.
Above and beyond loving, providing, protecting, training, encouraging, supporting, and dozens of other positive active verbs, they also gave me the gift that exceeds all others – they brought me to the place where I met my Lord, Jesus Christ. Before I was born, I was promised to Him; as a baby, I was dedicated to His call and service; as a child, I was taught His stories; as a young person, I was brought to His congregation and surrounded by His people; as a young adult, and again as a mature adult, I was supported in moving from the comforts of home to the corridors of His colleges. One day, owing in part to the faith and faithfulness of my parents, I will move from this earth to the home He has been preparing for me, and preparing me for. There is no greater gift a parent can give a child than a heritage in and introduction to the Creator who gave all for love of His creation.
A thanks that cannot be over-expressed is long overdue.
Let no one ever doubt or wonder that I am
in love with, proud of, and intensely thankful for
Here’s the disclaimer – the following is a rant – if your offend-o-meter is set to anything higher than ‘medium’, you should find another page to read, right about now. You have been warned.
So…cashier is approached by supervisor, business-related question is asked about last known sighting of another employee, supervisor gets answer & continues on merry way, making next plans as needed. Customer starts huffing about the fact that the large item (15-20 pounds), successfully moved from it’s shelf to the cart (by customer), from the cart to the conveyor belt (by customer), and across the scanner (by clerk), was not then moved by the supervisor back to the cart. Moving the item wasn’t the supervisor’s task, it was (quite frankly) the customer’s task, since the very capable customer had chosen to come through the Express Lane (small orders, semi-self-service). Customer then insists that the reason the supervisor didn’t move the item to the cart was because of the customer’s demographic. Of course, it couldn’t be because the supervisor was busy with the logistics of keeping a store’s checkout zone running smoothly. Eich!
Driving too fast for the posted speed limit and/or road conditions? The police pulled you over because of profiling, of course – it couldn’t be as simple as you’re breaking a reasonable law and they’re doing their jobs.
An authority suggests that you and/or your children stop playing inside the building, interrupting traffic flow, presenting a potential trip hazard to other humans in the realm, perhaps even risking your/their own safety… How dare the authority give any corrective! Obviously it’s because of your heritage, it couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the protocols of reasonable indoor conduct. Puh-leeze!
I’ve long been tiring of the petty whining of people who refuse to accept responsibility for their own decisions and behaviors. It’s easier for them to conclude that they have no say in the matter and the world is simply picking on them because they are members of a recognizeable, sortable group of humans. Persecution happens, all over the world, for a variety of reasons, most equally inexcusable. But c’mon, people, not every little inconvenience is worthy to be called persecution. Sometimes it’s just an appropriate response to inappropriate behavior.
Once upon a time, parents taught children personal responsibility, actions & reactions in the physical and social worlds, and basic manners such as keeping voices and limbs under polite control in the company of others, and treating people and objects with a reasonable level of respect. For several generations now, such teachings have fallen by the wayside, and we now have an entitlement society where the inmates are running the asylum. Parents are now reprimanded for trying to train these little creatures not to be so self-absorbed…. so they grow up self absorbed and blame everyone else for not bowing down and serving their little highnesses. They turn into miserable customers who can’t see the reality of the situation and walk out of a business highly insulted because they were being treated equal to everyone else.
Rant mode off. Please reset your offend-o-meters and read at will.
Long ago, Mom made an Artex wallhanging of “Children Learn What They Live” – a great poem by Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D., and worthy of parents’ frequent reading. I’ve read it so often that I’m certain it had influence on this one, which says some of the same things, but is more wordy.
Be consistent with me, then I can trust your words and actions.
Comfort me when I’m scared, hurt or sad – then I’ll know that I’m okay even when I’m not feeling strong or happy.
Take responsibility for all your feelings and actions, then I also won’t blame others, and I’ll take responsibility for my life.
Communicate what you feel hurt or frightened about when you’re angry at me, then I’ll feel I’m a good person, and I’ll learn how to constructively deal with my feelings.
Tell me clearly and specifically what you want, then I can hear you and I’ll also know how to communicate my needs in a positive way.
Express to me that I’m okay even when my words or behavior may not be, then I can learn from my mistakes and have strong self-esteem.
Balance your life between work and play, then I can believe that I can grow up, be responsible, and still have fun.
Remember what you wanted when you were my age, then you’ll better understand my needs and interests.
Understand and accept me. I may be different from you and that’s ok.
Treat me as an individual, then I’ll know that I can be my unique self.
Hug me and tell me you care about me, then I’ll feel lovable and I’ll express caring to others.
Thank you for hearing me – I LOVE YOU!