I heard this today on my way home from the store. In case you don't want to listen, I'll include a transcript.
"Finally today, you might remember that I took a short leave from the
program about a month ago. I mentioned a little obliquely when I came
back that I had had a death in my family. Now that I am a month into it,
I can finally talk about the fact that it was my father who passed
away. And it probably won't surprise you that I have been thinking about
him a lot as I go about my day. I've also been thinking about the
It's not a matter of
thinking about who my father would vote for. That's not hard to figure
out. He was a native New Yorker with roots like most native-born
African-Americans of his age in the segregated South. He was an Army
veteran and later a cop who turned in his badge for a fire helmet, which
became not just his career but also to a degree, his identity. Except
that, unlike those fabulous firehouse chefs you always hear about, he
never learned to cook - even his sandwiches were terrible. But that's
No, I'm not thinking about who
he would be for. I'm thinking about who would be for him. Now, many of
my friends are of an age when we are losing our parents and we've been
swapping stories. And when I shared some of the stories about my dad, a
number of my friends were being nice and saying how remarkable he was -
especially given his long career in various forms of public service.
I have to say, actually, no, he wasn't. He was very ordinary, which was
one of the things I came to appreciate about him. He could've been a
little bit more ambitious and he could've been a little more self-aware.
But what I liked about him is that he liked being him, for the most
He liked simple things like ham and
potato salad for Easter dinner and going to the Fireman's Ball with my
mother, and watching baseball on TV with his mother.
I would call home from school and later my first job and having typical
school or first job or boyfriend blues, I could count on one thing;
he'd answer the phone, hear it was me and say, you made my day, just
because I called him.
He did not spend all
day thinking about how he would make his first million or be number one.
He did not spend all day thinking about how he could cure cancer or end
poverty. It might have been nice if he did those things, I guess, but
What he did do was work a second
job at the A & S Department Store during the Christmas season so he
could help Santa out, hint-hint. What he did do was walk the dog in the
driving rain with one of his cheap unlit cigars. What he did do was run
to the hospital - still in uniform - when one of us kids had one of our
frequent losing battles between our bikes and concrete. What he did do
was keep bottled water and canned food in the house and his dress
uniform pressed and cleaned to attend the all-too-frequent funerals, at
least as I remember it, during the tumultuous days of the urban riots.
was not perfect. And in fact, he had a couple of major issues, which I
won't go into here. But I will say this: He tried to do his best, even
when he was living in a time and place when his own country, because of
bigotry and ignorance, among other things, did not always encourage his
My faith tells me that the measure of a
people is how it treats the least among them. But my reading of history
tells me that the measure of a great nation is whether it allows a path
from ordinary to extraordinary. The best and brightest will in my view
almost always find a way to rise, even in the most static and ossified
Sadly, every corner of the earth,
even the richest, is home to someone desperate and broken. But a great
nation allows a measure of dignity, peace and grace, even to those who
don't want very much, who are willing to do their part as long as others
So I'm thinking, now that my dad's not here to speak for himself, who is speaking for him?"
Y'all I sat in the Kroger parking lot and cried when I heard this. Not only was it a loving tribute to her father and a pertinent commentary on the political climate, but this hit home for me. I am an ordinary person. I don't want to change the world. I don't want to be president or famous or even rich.
I want to be a good wife.
I want to be an amazing mother.
I want to share my love for learning with everyone I can.
That's it. That is all I want from my life.
I feel like in college we are pushed to be our best. To dream big. To conquer the world. And I am certainly glad that some people feel called to do those things. But that isn't me. That's never been me.
I want a strong, stable, loving family. The End.
Unfortunatly, in our society, this isn't valued. I fear being referred to as a "waste of talent or intellect". I'm afraid I won't live up to everyone standards.
But what Michele said today made me feel reassured. That it is ok to be ordinary. That it is ok to be content and happy with the simple life.
It is my life to do with as I chose. I can push, work hard, stress or I can accept who I am, who I was made to be and what I want.
The latter is what I choose to do.
Photo courtesy of Designs By Prater Photography