Archive for Thursday, August 2, 2007

From the Editor’s Desk

August 2, 2007

The father of every daughter must eventually face the day his daughter brings home some goofy guy his little girl has unaccountably fallen for. Not having a daughter, I was spared that moment, but I can relate having been on the other side of that moment.

Laura and I weren't kids when I was first presented to her parents, and they had learned to trust her mature judgment. But in the nearly two decades since that day, I'm sure I gave her father more than one head-shaking moment.

One of the best and strangest things about relationships is the suddenly enlarged family. My new relatives and the young ones who appeared since have wonderfully expanded and enriched my life. But just like in the primary couple relationship, there are areas of agreement and areas of bewilderment in the in-law relationship. It's a good thing, and it encourages growth.

I was reminded again this weekend, that you can never take tomorrow for granted. On a basic level, I blew it with Laura's father.

He retired from a career in the ministry soon after I met him. Retired was a relative word, and in his case it meant taking a smaller parish closer to Baldwin, where he and his school-teacher wife chose to retire. After about eight years at that retirement meant taking an active roll in the community life in the town where he and his wife ended their nomadic careers. It meant serving on the site plan review board, being a regular at the city council, taking active roles in political campaigns, and a never-ending commitment to the church. He helped oversee the church's food pantry and an obsessive personality, he would visit the church early in the morning to make sure visiting teens had turned down the thermostat and the lights were off.

Other than all this motion, his one true passion was a theological discussion. That's not my cup of tea and I've always seen the wisdom in avoiding conversations about religion or politics. But I think with engaging in that conversation with him, I couldn't really know him at the most basic level or him me. I always assumed we would have that talk someday and I even saved things I thought would interest him.

There was always tomorrow and then suddenly there wasn't. And not for the first time in my life, I'm left with regret.

My granddad told me stories he apparently didn't tell his children, or if the did they didn't remember them. I find both possibilities strange, because he told me them many times. One was less a story than an observation in stories about his dad, who was a member of the Socialist Party in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Those were the days that Eugene V. Debs won 6 percent of popular vote for president in 1912.

My great grandfather ran unsuccessfully for state and local offices on the Socialist ticket and in his dedication to party principles took in Socialists writers so that they could do their important work of cranking out books critiquing the prevailing decadent capitalist culture. My granddad, by then a Reagan Republican, would tell me the names of those writers who stayed with the family with some reverence -- as though I ought to know them. I didn't, of course, and they may have been obscure to all but party faithful at the height of their fame. I didn't ever write down their names for further research even when granddad told me of one female writer, "I think these days she's what they would call a pervert." One would think that would prompt a question, but to my everlasting regret, I didn't even ask granddad to explain.

What would have been so easy is now impossible and lost. But I didn't learn and let a far more important chance to grow and learn slip away.

Time isn't guaranteed. Take advantage of what you have.

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