Leaving home at a young age can be intimidating, and many young people learn quickly that they must rely on others for help and moral support in order to manage without their parents.
Not too long ago, I was fortunate to play on a charity golf tournament team with Jody Conradt, the University of Texas women’s basketball coach. While we were playing her cell phone started ringing, and I could hear her talking to some of her young recruits. This was in September just before these girls started their freshman year of college. One of them was ill, and they were calling Jody to ask her what to do.
I began thinking about this group of girls being on their own for the first time, how they didn’t know anyone else except the basketball team, and how many of them had never been exposed to life outside of their hometowns. Thus, they were forced to rely on each other’s friendships for help. Jody was their “surrogate” parent, and she considers these girls her “family.”
My own family, friends, and faith have certainly sustained me throughout my life. Getting married and leaving home at 18 was stressful. Nolan and I flew to Florida the morning after our wedding and two days later he left on a two-week road trip. After about a week of living on my own in an odd apartment building in a strange town, I ran out of clean clothes. Nolan suggested that I find one of the baseball wives who lived in our building and ask her what to do.
I knocked on a few doors until I found LaVonne Koosman, wife of Mets pitcher Jerry Koosman (also a rookie). I introduced myself and asked LaVonne if she could show me where the Laundromat was. When she replied that she would I said, “Oh, by the way, could you also show me how to wash clothes?” I’m sure she thought I was kidding, but I had never done a load of laundry in my life.
Don’t get the idea that I was a spoiled little girl—not in a house with five kids—but my Saturday job was washing dishes, cleaning the bathroom, and occasionally washing the family car. I never gave one thought to the laundry… it just automatically appeared back in my room, cleaned and pressed.
“Chance makes our parents, but choice makes our friends.” My good friends mean the world to me, but I feel doubly blessed and just plain lucky to have a wonderful family. In September, Nolan and I gave an engagement dinner party at our home for our daughter and her fiancé. My sister (bless her heart) took several days off to drive to Georgetown with her car packed full of tablecloths, decorations, and such to help me prepare.
And I can’t tell you how many times she has helped me with the children, packed and unpacked my belongings, or simply traipsed around with me for moral support. And my brother from Florida is flying to Texas just to be with my father (who is ill with cancer) and mother while the rest of the family is out of town for our daughter’s wedding. Knowing that my whole family is there for me in a time of need is probably the best feeling in the world.
I have often asked the Lord to help me give my children good roots, and in order to do that, I had to have faith. “While life’s dark maze I tread, and griefs around me spread, be Thou my guide.” These words from an old hymn, along with my son’s comforting words, helped me to deal with a family trauma.
When our first grandchild suffered a stroke during his delivery, the doctor told us that part of the left side of his brain had suffered irreparable damage, and only time would tell the severity of the problem.
Of course, this was devastating news. My son turned to me and said these unforgettable words, “Don’t worry, Mom. All we have to do is love Jackson, and that’s easy. The rest is up to God, and all we have to have is faith.” Reid was right…. Our grandson is a bright, funny sports-loving typical 6 year old who is truly a blessing and extremely easy to love.
May all of you readers enjoy the true blessings of the Christmas season and the love of your family and friends.
Editor’s Note: The Buzz Magazines would like to express our thanks to Ruth Ryan for contributing her insightful articles over the past year. We’ve enjoyed her interesting stories, thoughts, and reflections. We know readers will miss reading her column, as well.