During my drive to and from North Carolina this weekend, I listened to two wonderful storytellers. First, Jan Karon took me to the mountains of North Carolina for Shepherds Abiding, a lyrical and poignant visit to the wonderful Mitford I've enjoyed so much. Hearing John McDonough tell Father Tim's story, sing favorite hymns, and capture the essence of the many characters who populate her stories . . . magic. Five hours passed all too quickly, leaving the final chapter for my return home.
Once I'd closed the audio book on Mitford on the return trip to Dunwoody, I began Tim Russert's recollections of Big Russ and a working class childhood in Buffalo, New York. While Shepherds Abiding was a repeat visit, this was new territory. Knowing the sad, abrupt end to Russert's life made his story all the more compelling. I loved hearing my own philosophies articulated in the wise teachings of Big Russ . . . do your very best, every job is worth doing well because every job makes a real difference, honesty is truly the only way to live, lead by example, work hard and live hopefully. Big Russ's generation, that greatest generation of Tom Brokaw's marvelous homage to the World War II patriots, returned home to provide for their families no matter how hard and menial the work may be.
I didn't realize until I was close to home that I'd somehow chosen two father and son stories. Jan Karon's Father Tim brings the Holy Father intimately into everyday life. Tim Russert's Big Russ is a paragon of fatherhood - human, modest, and loving.
I think about my children, whose lives of privilege are such keen contrasts to my childhood (as well as every other working class family of the 50's and 60's). Do I fail my children by giving them so much material wealth? Are they cognizant of the value of hard work, even the necessity of doing something you don't like because it has to be done? Will they make the necessary sacrifices, if called upon, to provide for their families or their country?
Big thoughts for the return home. I don't have the answers . . . I can only pray that I'm doing the right thing day by day.
I'm grateful for the time with my parents. It was a peaceful and loving reunion after a too-long time apart. I'm thankful that I'm home safe, hugging my children close to my heart and pulled back into the family must-do's. What a blessing to be home. And what a privilege it is to be a mom.