Shirt off, muscles glistening with exertion, like a stone chiseled statue, my protector and provider, powerful and wise, and the template that the next man in my life could never match. That was my Daddy.
My Mommy was model tall sleek and movie star beautiful, my caretaker and teacher, knowing and wise, patient and loving, the template I wanted to grow into but could never match.
As I grew I noticed something that really upset me, and I took every opportunity to bring it to their awareness. They were not powerful nor wise enough and I could take care of myself, and they didn’t know everything. The world outside our doors was full of unkindness, unfairness, and injustice. They were supposed to fix these things.
I wasn’t permitted to pass out flowers in a demonstration of peace and love at town center. There were no black people for me to get arrested with to fight injustice and discrimination as we witnessed on television each evening. Taking care of us wasn’t enough. There was a whole world that was messed up, and they needed to get out there and fix it.
Next thing I know I am married, with children. I vote for peace and justice the best I can. It is a struggle to be patient with my brilliant and amazing children. The struggle to bring peace into the life of me and my imperfect husband isn’t easy just because of love. We struggle with our differences and discuss (or argue) every decision. We struggle with finances and jobs, and balancing those needs with the needs and wants of ourselves and our family.
I grew up. I pulled away the curtain to see the ordinary people behind the great and powerful image.
With eyes that have difficulty reading, the television has become their window to the world. The tables have turned. As I once cried that they should get out and fix things, they now tell me to write letters, campaign and support those fighting for justice. They were and are far from perfect, but they taught me to think and care. As I struggle with life, I learned to see their struggle. They are just people doing the best they can with their imperfect lives.
The beauty and strength of youth has fallen away. They fight against physical limitations caused by heart attack, stoke, emphysema and injuries due to falls. It may take much longer to do the things they want to do, but they still do them. They stubbornly maintain every scrap of their independence.
As their bodies age, anger and frustration sometimes spill over. It is natures way, in God’s wisdom, to help them let go of life, and to help us to let them go. Their love and wisdom is still there, and when the wisdom goes, the love will be enough.
Their true beauty still shines and they have become more precious to me. May they have many more years to watch the family grow.