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“We’re Together, and That’s What Matters Most”

On my last trip out of state, I experienced something that caused me to reflect on the value of family. (This seems to be a recurrent theme in many of my blog posts, but I can’t think of anything that has more inpact on the development of our young people today than an emphasis of family and spiritual values.)

I was in the Cincinnati airport trying to catch a ride home. My American Airlines flight had mechanical trouble, but, fortunately for me, there was a straight flight on Delta that got me home even earlier. I was waiting for the flight when I noticed a family of three next to me. There was Dad, Mom and a very young girl. Their airplane was delayed.

Dad sat with the daughter while Mom took off to do a bit of shopping. (Terminal “C” at that airport is a world in its own.) She had been gone only a short time when the gate announced that their plane was ready to board.

The little girl sensed this was a problem. How could she get onto the airplane without Mommy? She began to cry.

“Honey, it’s okay,” her father soothed. “We’ll wait as long as we can,” he said calmly. “But if Mommy doesn’t get back in time for us to catch this plane home, we’ll get the next one. We’re together; that’s the main thing.”

The mother did show up in time for them to catch the plane home.

What the father said to his daughter was sage wisdom–and right on target. There are things much worse than missing a plane.

I shared this little story with my wife when I got home, and she agreed. When you have your loved one(s) with you, home is with you also, wherever you are. We thought back through the years where the same kind of thing happened to us, like the time when the four of us had a bit of trouble getting home from Jaimaca. We were together, and that’s what mattered the most. When 9-1-1 caught us in Las Vegas trying to get home when no planes were flying, our son’s company bought a new Lincoln for him so he could get home with his wife and his parents. But we had to do it quickly, because they had to close on a house. Now THAT was an adventure–a rocket-quick trip from Nevada to San Antonio with only potty and fuel breaks.

We were together, and that’s what mattered the most.

“We’re together, and that’s what matters the most.” What a powerful and comforting message to share with our children.

 James Sutton, Psychologist

November 29, 2007 Posted by | adversity, family, Inspirational, Parents, Self-esteem, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Two-duck Thanksgiving

I don’t recall eating turkey for Thanksgiving as a kid. Our family was pretty small: just Mom, Dad, Sis and me. Mom would always buy a large chicken hen, then she would prepare it like a turkey.

It was always like that for as long as I could remember because we had that meal to ourselves. Dad would be off for the day, of course, and it was family time–very precious family time.

(Christmas was much different. We’d pile in the old Chevy and go to Grandma’s in Oklahoma, where there was always PLENTY of family. Grandma lived in a small duplex, so there were kids sleeping on the floor all over the place. One bathroom, too; I don’t know how we survived the holidays. But we did.) 

One Thanksgiving stands out in my mind. It was the time Dad brought home two ducks for Thanskgiving dinner. Someone at work had gone duck hunting and shared the bounty.

These weren’t dressed ducks; they arrived feathers and all, wrapped up in newspaper. I was spellbound watching my father remove the feathers and prepare the ducks for the stuffing and roasting.

My sister and I EACH had a wishbone that year. Pretty cool.

The most important thing about those small Thanksgiving gatherings was the coming together of our family with love and gratitude in our thoughts and hearts. Obviously, that kind of family tradition and closeness is still around, but there also seems to be so much so much more around to distract us from both family and thankfulness.

Our children need generous helpings of both. Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

PS: My blog, “Five Kernels of Corn-The Thanksgiving Story,” has received a ton of hits, and I’m at a loss as to why. But it was neat to see it. It would make a great story to read before you dive into the turkey on Thursday. Blessings.

 James Sutton, Psychologist   www.docspeak

November 16, 2007 Posted by | family, Inspirational, Parents, Self-esteem, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Dose of Reality in the Vegas Airport

I recently spoke at an association conference in British Columbia (Canada), and was coming back home through Vancouver. We boarded the connecting flight to Las Vegas right on time, only to sit in the airplane as a mechanic worked on one of the engines.

We sat there for over two and a half hours. When we finally took off and made the flight to Vegas, I missed my connection. I gave the ticket agent at US Airways my story, but there was nothing they could do except book me with another carrier early the next morning. (But I did get two meal vouchers in the deal.)

I was stuck in the Las Vegas airport from 1:00am until my flight at 6:45am. It wasn’t much fun.

So there I was, trying to sleep with my head resting on my luggage. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw what was obviously a homeless person. She was dressed in several layers of clothes, and she shuffled along carrying two good-sized plastic bags.

She took a seat and reached into one of the bags for a large envelope. As I watched her out of the corner of a half-closed eye, she opened the envelope and looked through the contents. She then replaced the envelope into one of the bags.

I was snoozing lightly at this point. I was awakened by what seemed to be the sound of soft chuckling, laughter. I searched for the sound. It was the homeless lady, only she wasn’t chuckling; she was sobbing. She wiped at her eyes, grabbed her bags, and slowly walked off.

“If you’re homeless, there’s no place to go,” I whispered to no one in particular. I felt a sense of sorrow for her and her plight. But it also caused me to realize how minor my overnight residence at this airport really was.

She returned and again sat down. Again she took out the envelope, and again she sobbed softly. In fact, she sobbed herself to sleep.

I’ve spent time away from loved ones, once for two whole years, but I always knew there were a number of folks who loved me and cared about me and how I was doing. I cannot begin to fathom what it would be like to be completely alone, destitute, aged and probably sick.

And I don’t care to ever find out. Maybe, just maybe, this whole existential “detour” was intended to wake me up to smell the “coffee” of God, family, love and purpose.

It’s gotta be the best smell goin’.  Oh, I also learned something else.

Luggage makes a lousy pillow.

James Sutton, Psychologist

November 7, 2007 Posted by | adversity, Counselors, Educators, family, Inspirational, Parents, Self-esteem | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment