For my daughters sake, I am sorry. For too long, I have been apathetic. My world existed for me alone and I haven’t cared as much as I should have about what our country was doing. I’ve lived in the privilege of being a white male for too long. Throughout my life, I have not experienced any adversity for being who I am. I will never know what it is like to be touched inappropriately, to be called names by people set on degrading my worth, to fear for my life. Even as I feel sorrow and pain for those of you who have experienced those things, I know I will never fully grasp the pain, and for that all I can do is be there for you.
For my daughters, I have a responsibility to protect them from being treated poorly because they are girls. To build them up with love, strength, the tools to understand that the world, seemingly, at times, will say they don’t matter, and the tools to help them rise above that. To show them they matter. To give them fearless confidence in who they are. Strong girls, now, and soon strong women. To show them that even though things don’t go the way they should, they have a say in how things will proceed. To provide a place at home they can ask questions about serious topics. To expand their knowledge beyond my own. To learn from them.
This election has opened my eyes to seeing that our country is still a far cry from respecting each other as we should and that shows me that my job as a father, to my girls, is ever more important. Because the polls show that mostly white males have turned up to vote, it is now on me to show my girls that this is not the way any male should act. It is my responsibility to show my girls that men should see women as equals, and in a lot of cases higher than equals. It is up to me to show men around me that we are to honor our daughters, mothers, sisters, aunts and grandmothers above ourselves.
For my four year old that will soon start in the public school systems, where she will start to expand her worldview and start exploring relationships with many more people, I need to be influencing her to be grow into her peacemaking heart. I need to be there for her when she sees and feels injustice, yet doesn’t know how to process what she saw. Soon, she will be learning about our political system and why things run the way they run. I need to be able to build her up with the hope that if she sees something wrong, she can cause change, without having to hurdle sexism.
My apathy ends here. My selfishness ends here. My laziness ends here. For my daughters, I need to take a stand so they know what is right. I will not leave their knowledge up to the people who run this country or anyone else, for that matter. I will encourage them to ask questions. And if the answers are not quite what they should be to ask more questions. I want my girls to dig into issues with the hope they can help cause change.
After two days of processing what this means for the country, I see now that it is up to all of us to strive for the things we believe in. But not at the cost of anyone’s beliefs or lives. An open dialogue between people who believe different things is so much stronger and fruitful than anger and hatred for those people and their beliefs.
Stand strong. Live what you believe. Be kind, generous, and loving. Seek to help those who are being beaten down. Lift them up. Stand together with them.
For my daughters.
I will miss you, Grandma.
Early, Saturday morning December 17, my grandma had difficulty breathing, which led to a slowed pulse and eventually she passed away.
She had been battling Alzheimer’s for more than a few years now. We’ve had the great pleasure of visiting their community several times during that time. I have not been as close to her progression as my grandpa or Aunt and Uncle, but have been witness to how little she recognized me every time we saw her. I am grateful to my Aunt and Grandpa for being so loving and selfless in taking care of her. I know there were many hard times and I cannot express my gratitude and love for them, enough.
I know I have not fully processed what this all means. I’ve been asked to put together the program for her memorial and every time I see her picture, I still only remember her as an active, joyful person. We saw my parents the day she passed and I broke for a couple of minutes, but the weight has still not hit fully. Her memorial is on the 14th of January, since I have not yet seen my Grandpa, I don’t think it will hit me until then.
There has been sadness for the past two weeks. I have been angry. Short with my girls. Death has had it’s underlying effects and I don’t know how to handle that. Not much has been worth doing, other than surrounding myself with people I love.
With the sadness has been a flood of memories. Ones that I want to record, capture, never let them go. Third grade has had the largest grasp on my memory. My school was directly behind my grandparents house. They could see me play at recess. For a while, I went over to their house to learn how to play piano. It was comforting to be able to show up at their house and learn from her. One of the times, shortly after she had had surgery on her foot, I was at her house for a lesson. She was mobile, with a soft walking boot on, and was in the kitchen. I was playing and when she returned to the room, I shifted from the seat to the ground and stepped right on her foot. It was a lot of pain. I was sad and embarrassed and guilty, leaving immediately. At my young age, I knew that she would be upset with me forever, but she called me that night to see if I was okay. She had just been hurt but she was checking on me.
Food can bring people together. Our bond was over Easter ham and pineapple sauce. I’m not sure what she put in this sauce but it was an amazing meal. My favorite. Every time we visited I would be hopeful that we would have this meal and most of the time we had a variation of it, due to us being there around a holiday time.
I will always remember how animated she could get. She was always putting on a wig or making a funny distorted face, or reciting the nonsensical line “I saw something nasty in the woodshed”. We were always laughing. It was always an adventure going down to their house in Arkansas. She had this arm. It was fake. It went up to about the elbow and she would hide in-between chair cushions and hanging out of the trunk of her car. It was fantastic. Something I will always remember.
Until we are down with family, I know I won’t fully be able to grieve. I will miss her. I love her.