“If you don’t recount your family history, it will be lost. Honor your own stories and tell them too. The tales may not seem very important, but they are what binds families and makes each of us who we are.”-Madeleine L’Engle
When I speak of my dad, I refer to him as one of my giants. My earliest memories are of my dad sitting up with me late at night, peeling an orange, and helping me through another coughing match with my tonsils. He believed in the healing power of good nutrition. When I was in high school and over my head in quadratic equations, he would calmly offer, “why don’t you take a break and have a sandwich?” My dad always called me back to tangible and honest things in a world that often was challenging and unjust. He offered what he could give. I miss him so much my heart stings at the sound of “Father’s Day,” and the fact that tomorrow is also the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere, I think if he were here, he would be calling me to look to the light instead of the overwhelming dark headlines of anger and hate.
My dad became a soldier before he was yet a man. His bags were packed for basic training as soon as he received his high school diploma. Uncle Sam needed him, and he went leaving his sweetheart who was counting the days for his return. When that day finally came, and they could marry, they built a small house for themselves and started a family…there was one, two, three…and then twelve of us. They hoped that things were cheaper by the dozen, and their love was for each other and us whether or not this was true. They worked hard, expected the best of life and from every one of us under their care.
When I think of my dad, I remember so many things. One thing especially, when we stepped out of line, he would ask, “Who do you think you are?” This admonishing statement would level any of us, but it is an essential question if you really hold it. “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?” rather than “WHO ARE YOU?” He knew who we were, but maybe our heads got too big and our britches too big that we needed to be called back to our center.
As I work in public service and customer service, I am so tempted to say that line to unruly customers who think they can boss people around just because they have money. “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?” Do you think you have more rights than someone else or have suffered more? Please be careful because most of the time, we have no idea who we are interacting with or the burdens others carry. We are all in this together, and no one is more powerful than the person who is willing to stop for a moment and offer a sandwich or love to someone who is going through challenges.
I wish my dad were here today to talk about what is happening in the world. He might be as frustrated as me, but I am pretty sure he would ask me to remember who I was at my core and to follow my truth. He would ask me to lighten up just a little bit and to remember to take time out for self-care. He would remind me that no matter the conflict, love is waiting to begin something new.