Last month’s story on discipline was a bit animated. This month’s story is relaxed. It should be because I’m writing about home. From home. And, as the saying goes, ‘Home is where…’ well, that is what this story concerns from the perspective of someone who is tired but grateful to be home.
It’s funny -- in my first night of writing to my List on 20 April I mentioned that I left the ship on the 11th. In that story I said: “Just returned from a country walk. Ahhh…after only being able to walk ‘up and down’ between decks on a ship for months, it’s nice to go for a walk on land.” One guy wrote back, “You left the ship on 11 April...and are just now getting home? What did you do, WALK???” I teased that ‘as a matter of fact I did(!) and upon finally reaching Tennessee, went for another walk in the country for good measure!’
My delay in getting home was that en route to Tennessee I visited three other homes before arriving to my own. 1st was my cousin’s home near Seattle to unwind. Catch my breath. So needed after being Medic for 230 people on a ship for 3 months. Then on to Teri’s folk’s home. But my rest was actually needed for home #3—to prepare to see and interact with a (nearly) three year old niece and nearly two year old nephew. One must be rested for that! Being I’m gone so much, these kids are still getting used to me so I try to see them when I can – getting that interaction so needed in their fast changing world. Seeing them en route to Tennessee is more practical than flying home, then driving back up the 300 miles, visiting, then returning 300 miles while I’m in recovery mode from the ship. But I would do it if I had to because I need that family time.
Backing up here, I engage many people on the ship and listen to not only their aches & pains, but their hearts & hopes while they sit in my clinic. Over coffee. (Coffee slows a clinic visit for some good interaction!) And interaction is what they need. The main thing these homesick people wish to talk about? Home...and why it is important to them. And family. They may even pull out pictures! Might as well because I have pictures of Teri and the babies everywhere myself. But in sharing, I get to thinking about and wanting to be home myself. To be around those one loves. To be with those you feel safe with.
Last month you read a story about 'in-house discipline' that may have had you chuckling. I know I did when originally told the story by a spectator. But later when the young lady involved came to my clinic in stressed-out tears the chuckles stopped. Laughing wasn't appropriate anymore. Listening was. And something else…something I couldn’t put my finger on at the moment that might have helped in that situation.
In listening to the family dynamics of this woman I got to thinking, "What happens when that extended family gets together again? What happens when she goes...home?" And the young lady looked to me for answers. Or maybe not. Maybe she just wanted to talk. Either way, I pondered this situation for the rest of the trip.
Because Teri and I have been married awhile I often get asked ‘now what?’ by others on the ship who are having relational issues—especially with family. They figure that anyone married thirty years knows something about ‘when things happen' and may have an idea about the situation. But I got to thinking, “What advice could ‘I’ give that someone in that family wouldn’t already know? With four generations living under one roof, surely someone more familiar with island culture family and dynamics would have the best solution.” And I pondered.
In interacting with ‘The Babies’ (as Teri calls them) I am learning. Having never been around small children, each visit is an adventure! Or perhaps ‘venture’ is the better word because according to the dictionary one meaning for venture is, ‘an undertaking involving uncertainty as to the outcome, especially a risky one.’ Boy was that correct between myself and the Babies—especially at first. I had NO idea what to expect! Being I was gone so much, Those Little People looked at me funny at first like, “Who are YOU?” Teri? She said to take it slow and easy—let them approach me their own speed. Their own way. Let them ‘learn who you are.’ Good advice. And up until recently I held back. Until… This trip they decided—really decided—that Uncle ‘Himself’ was OK. And I was baby-mauled. And it was wonderful. My job (besides entertaining them)? Get to know who they are. Perhaps learn from them. And that happened this trip. In a way I got the answer that I should have thought of and shared with someone on the ship who didn’t know ‘what to do’ when she got home. Something that makes or breaks a family.
I learned that answer from a 32 month old child.
As we were getting ready to leave Missouri and return to Tennessee I was sitting on the couch. For one last cuddle Little Bird came running over and launched herself to me. However, in her headlong launch she ran into my shin with her knee. Crack! Pain…followed by some serious crying and tears. (It did hurt and there was a forming bruise to prove it). I felt awful. Little Bird? Turning toward Grandmother she sought condolence. Turing toward Teri I wondering what to do. Teri said, “Apologize!” Facing Little Bird thru the crying, I could only say, “I’m sorry…” Little Bird? Thru her continued weeping she looked my way and said in her tiny little crying voice, “It’s OK…it’s OK…” Looking at her I could see she meant it. Although still feeling awful, I knew it would be OK because Little Bird said so from her heart.
How does the title of this writing fit this story? By giving me the answer to what I should have been able to tell a hurting young lady on the ship. An answer that helps hurting families and individuals everywhere. What is that?
‘Home is where there is…Forgiveness.’