Last weekend, our family gathered in Stone Mountain, Georgia, to celebrate my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary. I must hasten to add, my folks are still relatively young—they married right out of high school, had me by age twenty, and the avalanche of four kids and their spouses, twelve grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, along with spouses, dogs, cats, and horses. We spent the weekend sharing a Holiday Inn Express breakfast area and their home—telling stories, laughing late into the night, and torrid games of Uno at the hotel with three of our aunts who came to help and their spouses.
I was humbled as I listened to my elders tell stories about us, realizing how large the protective covering of love was for us. My Dad was one of nine, my mother one of eight, and one who died at birth. A large family is chaotic sometime, but as my Aunt Johnnie philosophically puts it, “Oh, we argue and fuss and get mad but we always keep getting together.”
We have known our share of heartbreaks, losses, tragedies and struggles, all of us. But we keep getting together. There is something astounding about families, something enduring, durable, that transcends politics and economics. Dirt poor was always not as poor as the people down the road, and besides, “we always had each other and enough to eat. So we didn’t think we were poor.” That despite clothes made out of anything mothers could find and food they grew themselves. Read the rest of this entry
Watched “Moneyball” Sunday night. I liked it. It surprised me. I wasn’t sure that it could be faithfully made into a film worth watching, but, as usual, I know little about the art of that. Brad Pitt is a great actor, all of the fluff of paparrazinsanity aside, and he hit a homer again. It’s an interesting story about baseball, change, and the resistance to new things that always comes. It doesn’t end with exploding lights, a la, “The Natural,” but with the gentle irony that success leads Billy Bean to a fateful choice between one vision of “success” and family–even though his is broken.
I was in the mood to think about all of that, since my granddaughter just turned a year old this weekend. She has changed our lives and our priorities. I care much less about a great many things. I declined an opportunity to be part of a panel on religious responses to immigration law in Alabama, a topic I feel strongly about, but I’m going to see that little girl for a brief visit, and, as I explained to friends, this is even more important than securing the borders of the United States.
Tony Giles, a friend who works in financial services, said yesterday that he is hopeful about the economy, even if worried, because, “Prosperity always climbs a wall of worry.” His idea is that as long as we are worried about our world, there is still a chance it can get better. I like that. Jesus told us not to be anxious, which is one of the strangest and hardest of all of his sayings, for what else motivates humans beyond anxiety? I know there is a way to not react to anxiety without eliminating it, and that is the best I can do.
Don’t worry about my granddaughter? Might as well tell me to quit breathing. I will worry about, at, and just plain worry this world until it provides her the kind of planet little children deserve. If I had continued down midlife without her, I might have been able to unwind myself from caring a little more, retire, play golf and croak. But I can’t. It matters too much now.
Thing is, I don’t mind minding so much. She’s worth it. If a smile can make a person feel that good, you can cruise on it all day long. The other day, our band, during practice, recorded “You Are My Sunshine” for my baby, recorded on an iPhone. (click to play it). Grandparenting will make a fool out of you–I’ll testify. One that will keep caring, no matter how bad they say it is. God send us some more fools. We might balance some budgets, stop a lot of stupid wars, work harder, save more, and give our egos a rest. All you need is one baby.