FROM OCTOBER 13, 2009
This won’t be funny. Things aren’t so good. Things for many of us aren’t so good. This Lunar Report is for those who are finding the going a bit rough lately. Maybe we can all find a bit of comfort and promise here.
If our success is gauged by our financial reward and asset control, then I am by all accounts a total failure. These times tend to make those success measures seem quite unattainable, to be sure.
There are many of us like this. I’m one of the lucky ones, though. I have been through so much worse. And, I survived, not only those rough times, but also the inadequacies that pretty much led to those previous times. I’ve been there – here – already. This one is a piece of cake.
I took my son through the last time I was here. He had no say at all in where he found himself. But he gladly took the ride with me. He remembers playing hide-and-seek in the dark, waiting for Duke Power to return our electricity after borrowed money allowed them to do so. He remembers eating what he used to call “ghetto cookies” – cinnamon toast I would make when we had no real desert. He remembers a time when we happened upon a couple of free tickets to a UNC basketball game. After the game and as we were walking to the car, I said to him, “Man, we’re out of toilet paper at home! Go back in the Dean Dome and get us a couple of rolls.” We went home with no tissue, but we had a laugh.
I am writing this on Sunday evening. My son, Matt, the love of his life, Sherri, and their three beautiful children, just left after spending the weekend here in my home. Don’t worry. I’m not going to say that this is really what life is all about, or even that “life is good.” That is not what this is about.
Like many of us, it is often difficult at best for me to plan for just myself. It seemed kind of monumental to plan a weekend for myself and 5 others. Before my family arrived from their home in Newton, NC last Friday, I planned what we would need and somehow managed to take care of it all. Still, in retrospect, I guess the cupboard seemed a bit bare. The perception of my cupboard never even registered with me. I knew we would have enough to eat, and there were snacks and juices and fruit for the youngins’. All would be okay. There was no need to worry, or so I thought. Apparently, when one’s child sees a rather barren kitchen, the child may indeed have some worries.
Early Sunday morning, Matt and Sherri went to the store for diapers for their two toddlers. I gave Matt $17, and asked him to buy eggs and bacon for breakfast. They returned with several bags of groceries. I didn’t know what else they got from the store. I figured it was stuff they needed. I did see a loaf of bread and a couple packages of sandwich ham. Since they were staying to watch the Panther game on television before heading home, I assumed they bought the bread and ham for lunch.
There are a few things y’all need to know about Matt and Sherri. They too are struggling. I mean, what set of young parents with 3 kids doesn’t struggle, right? Their work hours have been cut, and so have their incomes. Diapers, formula, cheer-leading outfits, day care provisions, doctors, well – you guys know, I am sure. It is tough for those youngsters.
As they were preparing to leave this afternoon, packing a bit here and there, it occurred to me that we did not have ham sandwiches for lunch. I told Sherri that they were forgetting all that food they bought, and so I packed the bread and ham into a bag for them to take with them back to Newton. Sherri tried to stop me, but I didn’t know why. I looked in the cupboard to see if there were any kid’s snacks that I could include in that bag. My mother and my grandmother always sent me back home with food. I was trying to do the same. When I opened the cupboard, I noticed several new cans of peas, several new cans of corn, a new can of pinto beans, and a brand new jar of jelly. That all confused the hell out of me. I turned to look at Sherri who was standing across the room. She was just looking back at me, not saying a word. I then turned to Matt who was looking at me with those “I REALLY love you” eyes that he reserves for showing at only the times when folks need to see them the most. He said nothing. I looked back at the bag of bread and sandwich ham, back at Matt and Sherri, and then calmly turned to put the bread back on the counter and the ham back in the refrigerator.
I knew what I had to do. I knew what had been done. All that food was for me. For me!
For God’s sake, these wonderful children, who themselves struggle daily, bought, sneaked in and hid all that food for me. It’s not, apparently, an exclusive act between mother and child, grandmother and grandchild to provide food for one who is leaving. It’s an act of love for those who leave or for those who remain. Pure and simple. It’s an act of love. After they left? I found ground beef, pork chops and chicken legs in the freezer.
Oh yeah – and I also found on the kitchen counter the $17.
When I was in college, my dream was to win an Oscar. And, naturally, with fame and recognition comes wealth. I am human. I would, I suppose, rather than not be a financially wealthy man. But something occurred to me late this afternoon, as I was trying my damnedest to put into perspective just what had happened on this day. If I had all the money in the world, I never would have experienced the true beauty of the people I love most. Without being where I am now and where I was years ago with my young child, I NEVER WOULD HAVE OWNED THIS DAY.
You know, I often worry about being able to leave something behind for my grandchildren after I am done here. This weekend I learned that I have already helped to leave for them half of all they will ever need. Sherri’s parents have left the other half.
Let’s hang in there, y’all. Let’s own the day.