Every morning I cry. I am invariably the first person to wake up, and I have a routine I seldom break. Make coffee, sit in the recliner, check the latest news, my email, and last – my guilty pleasure, Facebook. Then I see a sentimental post, make the mistake of opening it, and the tears spring to my eyes.
Yet, I have every reason to be ecstatic right now. Almost two months ago we moved into a quiet neighborhood, close to our younger daughter’s family, to a home that is perfect for our family’s needs. The move itself, from a house in which we had lived for 37 years, was relentlessly stressful, and we still have a garage full of detritus we must sift through, but for the most part we are settled comfortably into our new life looking forward to our family’s celebration of Christmas in a few days. We’re so fortunate that the whole family has escaped COVID, and I can see light on the horizon with the vaccine soon to be available. Especially delightful is that my granddaughter who lives in California, and whom we haven’t seen for a year, has come back Texas to celebrate the holidays with us. I am at my most content when my family is here. I don’t care about presents, food, glitter and shine – just give me the priceless gift of hearing my family interact and laugh, while I hold my cat (who thinks he’s a dog) in my lap. Like most people who have grown old, I’ve discovered that my connection with living beings close to my heart is the most beautiful blessing God has granted me. COVID isolation has made that fact all the more obvious. On Saturday, my husband and I will celebrate half a century of marriage – not with hoopla and streamers or probably not even a nice dinner out – but with gratefulness that we somehow found each other on a campus teeming with thousands of college students. How blessed are we that weathering the storms has been easier and celebrating the victories has been sweeter because we have wept and cheered together.
So why, you might wonder, do tears spring so easily to my eyes? My last blog post, over three months ago, centered on my once again enabling my older daughter to continue to be helpless by allowing her and her baby to live with us – a twenty-five-year pattern that has resulted in our raising her first three children. When I wrote that post, our talks of moving were just vague “some days.” We had reached a point, though, that Chandler’s disability had made properly taking care of our vast property impossible, and our daughter’s negativity, indigence, indolence, and unwillingness to move on had made life wretched for us all – an even stronger impetus for making a change. A few weeks after I wrote it, we had unexpectedly found a new house and were making plans to move to a city an hour away. To say our daughter was shocked and dismayed that her gravy train was moving on without her would be an understatement. She tried to make me feel guilty about abandoning our grandson, begged to go along with us, threatened that her only choice would be to go back to the baby’s abusive father – all her usual manipulative tactics – but I was adamant. I offered to fix her car so she would have transportation and even to pay for the baby’s daycare for awhile so she could get a job and save enough to put a modest roof over her head when ours was no longer available. But in her usual fashion, she did nothing, and the day we moved, she returned to the unemployed, psychotic abuser she had sworn never to talk to again. Predictably, within a few weeks he assaulted her again. This time she had no refuge. We were gone. She started contacting domestic abuse shelters, which were all full, and rented a cheap motel room with the small amount of money she had. Now that money has run out, and she is desperate. And I cry. I find myself once again with the same dilemma I’ve faced three times before – how can I save this innocent child who didn’t ask to be born into utter poverty and chaos? Except this time, I can’t. The physical demands alone of caring for an active nine-month-old are daunting, if not impossible. I assure myself that we didn’t make the choices that resulted in this quagmire – that the two irresponsible, immature adults who did should figure this out. But I know they won’t. And I cry. I ponder the three whom I did raise, what fantastic people they are, and I see the little one’s smiles and giggles at the simplest things. And I cry.
And not just for him. He makes me think all the children of poverty, the children of irresponsible and even abusive and addicted parents, the children who didn’t ask for this lot in life. I cry that I cannot rescue them all and that we live in a selfish, self-involved country that values tanks and aircraft carriers more than little children whose only meal for the day is the free lunch they get at school. That we live in a country that separates innocent children from their parents and puts them in cages. That we throw our money at “stuff” and value a so-called influencer on Instagram more than a child being passed from foster home to foster home. I know in my heart my family won’t let bad things happen to my grandson, and that gives me comfort. And I know if they weren’t available for him, I would once again step in. (And, though the odds are against it, there's always hope that his mom will get on the right track.)
But I mourn for those lost children who don’t have a family to save them. And even though life has blessed me in more ways than I can even begin to count, I cry. How can I not?