Wednesday, January 30, 2008


It pleases me considerably to see how the generations interact in my family. I've heard tell that the Industrial Revolution really messed with the close-knit familial structure of the agrarian society when several generations lived in close proximity on farms. Young people knew their grandparents well, and aunties and uncles played a significant role as mentors, teachers, and helpers. This phenomenon seems to be alive and well in my family.

My brother John has long been a mentor and friend to my son Culley. Back when Culley was a kid, John taught him to ski and play chess. During school breaks like Christmas and Easter, Culley would go to stay at John's mountain cabin where he got a taste of bachelor life. They maintained contact as Culley grew to adulthood and played chess through the mail and later email after John moved to Colorado John recently moved in with Culley and his family in a reciprocal arrangement that seems to be good for everyone. John has the solid support system important for senior living, and he pitches in with child care and household chores like doing dishes and feeding the chickens. Culley helps John stay up to speed electronically so he can play Fantasy Football and record the various sporting events he enjoys watching on TV. John plays games with everyone, Candyland to Settlers to chess. He sometimes walks through the woods to play chess with the Tippett kids, and he makes a point of going to kid events the Harrelson's soccer games. Uncle John is a fixture not only in my son's life but now he has also become a part of my grandkid's life.

Recently, when I visited my son Raleigh, he played a podcast of my sister speaking at her church in Pennsylvania. It was a wonderful message given on Mother's day but what was really cool was that my son was bringing my sister to me. Just this past weekend, my sister and her husband came to California for a short visit. At a family gathering, Raleigh spent considerable time engaged in thoughtful conversation with his Uncle Charles (my brother-in-law). Raleigh regularly listens to podcasts of Charles' sermons, and he has been powerfully influenced by Charles' insightful teaching, so much so that he actually wrote a song that speaks of agape love a concept Charles has preached on at length. Soon Raleigh will be the first California relative to visit my sister's home in Pennsylvania, a place where she's lived for 14 years. Raleigh is going to Pennsylvania to attend Firestorm, an impassioned conference at Life Center Ministries, where Charles is the senior pastor.

Most of my grandchildren are home-schooled and Granddaddy and I, as retired teachers, have the distinct pleasure of participating in their education. We each meet regularly with grandkids to work on math, writing, reading and science activities. Not long ago, my brother Andy led August and I on a nature/history walk, the subject of an earlier post. Andy shared his considerable knowledge about local geography and history and we have more hikes planned for the future. Andy is giving August, a budding naturalist, information from his considerable knowledge base.

Though the reach of generational support in my family may not look as once did in the early part of the last century, it is clearly at work. The elders in my family nurture and guide; the youngsters entertain and inspire. My family is family in a sweet, swell way.


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