Archive for October, 2008

Susan Jean Harrison Jones, My Mother, Happy Birthday!

I won’t tell you how old she is, not because she’s self-conscious about it, but because it doesn’t matter.  What she is and who she is has nothing to do with her age.

I remember a lot about her when I was growing up.  I remember her cutting my sandwiches into triangles (tuna fish! Mmmmm!).  I remember her taking away my tinkertoys because I wouldn’t clean them up.  I remember her ironing downstairs at the Stevens Street house, watching our little black and white TV in the corner.

She used to walk me around the block and show me the crocuses in the spring.  She used to sing to me “I Often Go Walking”, which is still my favorite Primary song, and one I can’t sing without thinking of her.  She would fight with the school administration about their silly bus-riding policies.  She would try to get me to do my math, often in vain.  I remember that most distinctly at the house in Seattle, at the little table there in the kitchen by the back door, the one that led outside to the blueberry bush.

She let me sleep in her big, wide bed when I was sick and had a fever.  She comforted me, took me to the library, loved me and fed me and told me I was someone important.  I knew I was important to her, and she was important to me.  Dad was the huge, festive murals on the wall.  Mom was the 2×6 beams that held up the house.  And, in turn, Dad was also the foundation that held up the walls.  Good marriages – and as quirky as this one is, it is one – get built by both participants.

Dad did a great – but often uncertain – job of providing for the family.  He dared things, and some of those things were not altogether successful, financially (though you could only know this reading between the lines, because certainly, none of us children ever wanted for anything).  I never once heard my mother berate him, criticize him, fail to support him if he thought he was doing the right thing.  He was her man and Heaven help the child that failed to see that.  Mom pitched in, did what she had to do, economized, saved, whatever she could.  She respects and adores my father.  Her support of him supported us all.

She had – and has – many, many friends: Meg Munk and Roxanne Clark, who have gone on to get a picnic ready for the rest of us, Carolyn Ingersoll, Anne Rees, Gloria Oaks, and so many others that I don’t remember as well, but who were part of the life that made my mother the best and wisest of women.

Mom was always home.  That was the biggest thing.  She was there when we needed help, no matter what it was.  She drove us all where we needed to go, never complained about it.  She bore seven children, every one of whom will stand before God at the Judgment and testify that Susan Jones should be admitted into His rest.  I strongly suspect we will not need to do this, as surely He knows her better even than we do, but we will do it and it will be our sacred privilege.

Her seven children have added eight more spouses and dozens of grandchildren that will all do the same.  I’m sure, because there are people of all kinds out there, that Mom has enemies, or at least people that do not like her.  Those people are missing out on one of the sweetest and most wonderful people that has ever been on this earth.  She is a model for mothers.  She is a model for women.  Generations yet unborn will rise up and call her blessed.

And if anything, I’m understating the case.

God bless you, my sweet and wonderful mother.  Happy Birthday.  May you have oh, so many more.

Susan Jean Harrison Jones, My Mother – Happy Birthday!

I won’t tell you how old she is, not because she’s self-conscious about it, but because it doesn’t matter.  What she is and who she is has nothing to do with her age.

I remember a lot about her when I was growing up.  I remember her cutting my sandwiches into triangles (tuna fish! Mmmmm!).  I remember her taking away my tinkertoys because I wouldn’t clean them up.  I remember her ironing downstairs at the Stevens Street house, watching our little black and white TV in the corner.

She used to walk me around the block and show me the crocuses in the spring.  She used to sing to me “I Often Go Walking”, which is still my favorite Primary song, and one I can’t sing without thinking of her.  She would fight with the school administration about their silly bus-riding policies.  She would try to get me to do my math, often in vain.  I remember that most distinctly at the house in Seattle, at the little table there in the kitchen by the back door, the one that led outside to the blueberry bush.

She let me sleep in her big, wide bed when I was sick and had a fever.  She comforted me, took me to the library, loved me and fed me and told me I was someone important.  I knew I was important to her, and she was important to me.  Dad was the huge, festive murals on the wall.  Mom was the 2×6 beams that held up the house.  And, in turn, Dad was also the foundation that held up the walls.  Good marriages – and as quirky as this one is, it is one – get built by both participants.

Dad did a great – but often uncertain – job of providing for the family.  He dared things, and some of those things were not altogether successful, financially (though you could only know this reading between the lines, because certainly, none of us children ever wanted for anything).  I never once heard my mother berate him, criticize him, fail to support him if he thought he was doing the right thing.  He was her man and Heaven help the child that failed to see that.  Mom pitched in, did what she had to do, economized, saved, whatever she could.  She respects and adores my father.  Her support of him supported us all.

She had – and has – many, many friends: Meg Munk and Roxanne Clark, who have gone on to get a picnic ready for the rest of us, Carolyn Ingersoll, Anne Rees, Gloria Oaks, and so many others that I don’t remember as well, but who were part of the life that made my mother the best and wisest of women.

Mom was always home.  That was the biggest thing.  She was there when we needed help, no matter what it was.  She drove us all where we needed to go, never complained about it.  She bore seven children, every one of whom will stand before God at the Judgment and testify that Susan Jones should be admitted into His rest.  I strongly suspect we will not need to do this, as surely He knows her better even than we do, but we will do it and it will be our sacred privilege.

Her seven children have added eight more spouses and dozens of grandchildren that will all do the same.  I’m sure, because there are people of all kinds out there, that Mom has enemies, or at least people that do not like her.  Those people are missing out on one of the sweetest and most wonderful people that has ever been on this earth.  She is a model for mothers.  She is a model for women.  Generations yet unborn will rise up and call her blessed.

And if anything, I’m understating the case.

God bless you, my sweet and wonderful mother.  Happy Birthday.  May you have oh, so many more.

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BabyWatch moves to BabyWarning

No kid yet, but Jeanette has gotten serious.  I’ve lost the pool now, but it would be nice to ahve the kid, as I am under the usual injunction (largely self-imposed) not to go anyplace I can’t get back from in less than twenty minutes.  We don’t anticipate that this labor will take much time.  The body knows the score, so to speak, and although Jeanette is not as young as she once was and doesn’t have the physical strength she did, she is also wiser and tougher than ever, so she’s not going to call for help until the baby is right on top of us.  Usually we have the baby about the point that the unborn child’s arrival starts to seriously impinge on everything else.  I’m cancelling appointments, so that’s the stage we’re in.

Of course, this is accompanied by the vomiting and diarrhea of another child – it was inevitable – and the departure of Alexander to Rotary Youth Leadership, and so on, so the castle is under siege and our defenders are thinner than usual.  I’ve got to work – half my staff is in the West Coast time zone and out of pocket – but thank Heaven the Internet makes it possible to do (mainly) from home, so I can be here the bulk of the time.

And I got an email from a friend asking if I wanted to meet two 11-year-old Ukrainian kids in case we wanted to adopt them.  I told him I didn’t, knowing that once I did, I’d be in real trouble.  We’ve talked about adopting several times, but never got very close to actually doing it, mostly because we’re still bringing new children into the house by ourselves, and a lot cheaper.  The fact remains that we have more to give.  We have warmth and shelter and love enough for more than we have, even counting this one we don’t have yet.  Though it’s frequently close, we always seem to have enough money for them all, too.  Should we not be willing, even eager, to sacrifice as much as necessary of this world’s goods to care for those that have so little of them?

More later, as events warrant.

Warning: Presidential Politics

Occasionally, I have to post things when answering the same question one person at a time starts to wear on me.  So this post is about the Presidential election, read at your own risk, but there’s no danger of being offended, I don’t think, regardless of your persuasion on the issue.

Up front, I don’t think Barack Obama is the spawn of Satan’s bowels. But he is a persistently liberal
senator with almost zero significant real-life experience. I grew up around
Capitol Hill in DC and I have run a Presidential campaign. I know
some of these people personally. I don’t think Democrats are scum
and Republicans are angels, I have no truck with political talk
shows (they make me tired), and I left national politics because there
wasn’t much place for a guy like me. I just couldn’t hate people
hard enough. So take this for what it’s worth.



More than anything else, this is what the election comes down to
for me:



McCain and Palin have both – BOTH of them – done hard jobs in
obscure places for practically no compensation. They have some
actual experience with the world that most people in the country
live in, and McCain has some experience with the worst the world
has to offer. Both of them are real people. They have problems, and
they make mistakes. Palin is the better of the two, mostly because
she’s been a real person more recently, and her political career
consists of hard battles against corrupt rich people who still hate
her and want her drowned in the Bering Strait. But I also can’t
find it in my heart to dismiss a guy that set his own broken arms
in a POW prison camp.



Obama and Biden, by glaring contrast, have ZERO relatable
experience in the real world. Neither has ever had a paying job of
recognizable substance outside of the government. Biden, for his
part, became a Senator almost 40 years ago, and his greatest moment
in the sun came when, while getting nine votes as a Presidential
candidate, he openly plagiarized Neil Kinnock in a campaign speech.
He has spent almost two-thirds of his live as a US Senator, and
never had a job. Obama’s private-sector experience is smaller than
my 16-year-old son’s. Neither of these men have any inkling what it
is like to be a real person. And they are both perfect – well,
Biden says silly things occasionally, but aren’t those just lovable
personality quirks?



I don’t know Obama personally, but I do know Biden. He is and
always has been mostly about himself. He’s never had to work for a
living and is perfectly comfortable stealing other people’s ideas,
work, speeches, what have you if he has a need for it, on the
perfect justification that he’s important. Obama appears to me to
be the personification of the entitlement class, able to get ahead
mainly on the shoulders of others without proving in any serious
way that he’s got substance. He became Senator through the
implosion of the GOP in Illinois (their candidate, after he got the
nomination, was caught in a sex scandal). He’s had patronage and
shelter every step of the way in his political life. Although he
has rhetorical gifts, he has never used those gifts to take a tough
stand on any issue, never proposed a controversial bill – or even
held HEARINGS on one – never authored a paper on anything
moderately unpopular. His major contribution to American political
thought is a book about hope.



I would hire him. But I wouldn’t put him on my City Council. And I
wouldn’t hire Biden to walk my dog, and that’s personal experience
talking. I wouldn’t hire McCain, but if I didn’t, he’d have a
competing shop open across the street in two weeks. I’d hire Palin
in a heartbeat, but in two weeks she’d have MY job.



That’s where it is for me.



We talk a lot in this country about how we want our leaders to
listen to the little guy, to care what happens to the average Joe,
to have respect for regular folks. Then we elect people who have
never had to pay their mortgage by phone on the very last day of
the month and wonder why they seem so tone-deaf. But how could they
hear us? They don’t live in this country. They don’t speak the same
language we do.



We can debate political philosophy all day, and I like doing that
more than most. None of these candidates – with the possible (but
unprovable) exception of Sarah Palin – come anywhere near my idea
of what is right and proper for government to be doing. So I chuck
that. What I’d settle for is someone that once had something really
hard to do, and did it the best he could. Not emotionally hard -
being black in this country is hard, and burying your wife is
excruciating – but “you’re going to hate me for this but I’m going
to do it because it’s the right thing to do” hard. One pair has
that. One has not.



I guess the word for me is “courage”. McCain and Palin have
courage, proven and demonstrated over and over. Obama may have it,
too, but how would we know? And Biden does not. Seems to me, this
is a time for courage. So I’m voting for that. It’s little enough,
but it’s something.


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