PUBLISHER’S DESK: GIVING LOVE AWAY
I loved being a dad the day I became one, and I’ve loved being a dad ever since. I was reminded of that pleasure thanks to an emotional weekend marked by Ella’s 17th birthday on Sunday. We celebrated with both sets of grandparents for a noon meal and then she was off enjoying downtown Sioux Falls with friends that afternoon. It was a spectacular golden birthday for both Ella and for us.
Greater still is Ella’s motivation to be a good student with her eyes on a career in health care — possibly nursing or physical therapy, she tells us. As a junior she’s still got time to figure it out, but having an idea of a career path early certainly can’t hurt. After all, it feels like she’ll be out of the house tomorrow.
As for Oliver, he’s growing up a bunch, too, and not only in stature. Now 14 years old, Ollie has proven to be a good worker who picks things up quickly and is developing as a leader in his class. Work on Stacey’s family farm, help with photography for the paper, and emerging interest (and skill) in cooking is turning him into a well-rounded kid. I told Stacey the other day that it feels like, just in the last couple of weeks, both Oliver and Ella have both reached a new level of awesomeness, and I will never shy away from talking them up and filling them with confidence.
Life is, of course, hard. Between the tense national mood, natural disasters that are beyond anyone’s control, conflicting opinions about politics and theology and how church and state should co-exist, and financial difficulties facing hundreds of thousands of middle-class families and others who struggle with poverty, it feels like “the good old days” are certainly a thing of the past. In fact, a friend who stopped in to see me on Monday went so far as to declare those days gone.
That’s why I keep coming back to my kids and the joy being a parent brings. Because when it comes right down to it, that’s the stuff that really matters. And it’s not just the nurture of Ella and Oliver that gives me motivation to be well; it’s also the care for other youth in our community and the kindness extended to them. Because our kids have a lot of friends, and because we have an open door policy in our home and in our hearts, we have gotten to know our kids’ peers well. And being part of that community of youth ranks right up there with being a parent and is something I wouldn’t change for all the riches in the world.
I’m likely preaching to the choir for those who have experienced — or are experiencing — similar feelings. This is certainly not unique to my orbit, but I need to remind myself often of the things that really matter in life. It’s not money or status, material possessions or even what you do for work. What truly matters is the relationships that are built on the backs of grace, mercy, understanding, compassion, the enjoyment of being with others and, above all else, love. Those are the tenants that are passed on to the next generation and will in turn live on in others.
Giving those things away is both my responsibility and my pleasure.