The friends we are staying with (who read my blog) are heading to church with Jimmy. Dominyk and Wilson are still asleep and I just finished reading Cindy's blog post called Lost and Confused. I'm not sure that I have answers for her or for anyone else about what we should do.
If I suggest that I feel grateful that nothing worse has happened to us then something probably will so I'm not going to suggest that. But we have had our share of being victimized, had kids in jail, had grandchildren born way too early in their parent's lives, etc....
Twenty-six years ago I moved here, to Brookings, as a 21 year old who was ready to take on my first job after college. I was a residence hall director at Brown Hall at SDSU while I worked on my Master's degree. Facing a staff of 21 at the age of 21, I was thrown into a lot of responsibility and was fairly immature looking back. The first night I was in town, Del offered to hook me up with the college and career group and even offered to pay for me to head to a movie with the kids who were going. I chose not to go, but his gesture was the beginning of an amazing connection between the Del and Judy and their kids and what would later become the Fletcher family.
I coached their older son Eric in Bible Bowl -- an amazing team of kids who made it to Nationals twice but didn't win. Their daughter, Marin, adopted from Korea as an infant, was about 9 or ten when we met. I spent countless Sundays at their house for delicious Sunday dinners after church and we continued to get to know each other.
As the children got older I moved on and headed to Bartlesville, but I would find myself back in Brookings occasionally and always stayed with them. They were big supporters when I was on the mission field and I would spend a couple weeks of my fundraising summers with them.
When Eric got married, I was here. When Marin married Rob, Bart performed the ceremony and baptized their 9 month old son, Ethan. And since then we pop back into their lives every few years with a child or two or three or five and are always treated so well.
Marin and Rob have since divorced, and Rob is parenting Ethan, but he spends his summers with his grandparents who have had a large part in raising him. They have shown us the importance of this and we try to apply it in the lives of our grand kids as well, though it is easier with Isaac than Gabby due to accessibility.
Ethan is here this summer and it has been fun to get to know him as a 14 year old.
So why am I telling you all this at this point? Because Marin has been the kind of kid that Cindy is talking about in her post -- very difficult and currently 36 and in jail, she told her parents recently, "I'm thinking I might start following the rules"
They still receive calls from prison asking them for things. They occasionally provide them -- being careful not to enable but still remaining loving and supporting. Unlike those of us with large families, they can't talk about protecting children younger or her being a bad role model (Her older brother lives in NY with his wife and kids and is an incredible young man). And so they hang in there. They are very important in the life of their grandson and they do what they can during the ups and downs of Marin's life.
I don't have answers either, but I love hanging out with Del and Judy because they are such incredible examples of unconditional love. They didn't set out to do what those of us with large families did -- they just wanted one more kid and went the "safe route" and adopted internationally.
And yet we have similar lives in some ways. We both sit and wonder if we should