#18 vignettes – The Framework of Family

I wonder that I sometimes seem prepossessed with my family’s recent history. While that’s not an unreasonable guess if you know our history, it also may not be in the best interest of my blog. I appreciate honest feedback.

The Framework of Family


Seagh 1988

Seagh 1988

The picture sealed in my mind before I snapped the photo. Seagh had arrived at my Scottsdale door from North Las Vegas just before sunset the day before. I saw clearly beyond his fatigue. A single parent myself, I felt the same pain and disappointment more times than I wanted to remember:

__ moving in with family for a fresh start. Despite his huge efforts, many successful, but without family and good friends he couldn’t keep his head above water in Vegas.

__ Business took off like a rocket, but dwindled away too fast to keep it going. His partner sold the flatbed that brought in the totaled vehicles he redesigned and flipped. Imagine; the guy wasn’t happy making enough moving boats to pay the note on the rig.

__ in the five years he was in Vegas he never actually saw his daughter. Her mother did a great job of poisoning the well.

__ He couldn’t get enough cash from the business for a down payment on even a condo.

__ His lawyer, the guy everybody said was the best, didn’t get him the VA benefits promised to him when he ended his third term with the Army. No college. No health care. ‘Hope he didn’t get something fatal.

I felt it all:

__ I had bought and sold two condos in Southern California. An impressive achievement for a tenth grade dropout with no family resources. After the heart attack my insurance stopped paying for follow up care. They stated I’d exceeded the year’s allowable coverage. I’d depleted my savings and maxed my credit cards so that my only option was to sell cheap, move back to Arizona, stay with family and recover.

__ While my consulting billing rate began at $60.00 per hour, and I had more clients than I actually wanted, meeting the overhead for my home-based consulting business wore me to the bone.

__ Ten years after dropping out of high school I hadn’t realized I needed a diploma to enroll in community college. Three days after my first visit to register for classes, I returned with my letter of certificate from the adult education center. Maybe I was too proud – of my assessment scores and passing the G.E.D. exams in the top 20% of the state without studying. I often wished I’d stayed in law school, but seriously, shuttling the boys between L.A. and San Diego every other weekend – most time only one of the four were coming.

__ While I poured all I had into my boys. The business began to drain me to where I experienced a myocardial infarction at age thirty-five. I sold the business to the boss I had previously left to get out from under it. I often wondered if life would have been as hard had I stayed in law school rather than taking a hiatus until the boys were out of high school.

__ For two years I paid Mimi rent for one of her five, out of ten empty townhomes she owned. While she subsidized two of my sisters’ rents by paying their electric bills, two of my boys and I were on our own. Rather than encourage me to stay positive, she reminded me at least once a week how I sold my late-model Calais to get out from under the payments, drove the VW bug I bought for the boys (or set a good example for my sons walking to work when I was late paying my insurance), and wouldn’t make more than $20K a year in Arizona. Appreciating my bio mother’s “help” was definitely a challenge. I pretty much knew how he felt when she told him he couldn’t stay in her townhome.


Still in all, for that short season all but one of my siblings rented one of Mimi’s townhomes. My first son came home and married while we were there. My first, third and fourth sons went off on their own from there. We all had a great Christmas celebration together while Iain and his wife flew to San Diego to have my first grandchild. I saved enough in four years for a down on my first condo. And my siblings were close by when I needed to lighten up.

While each disappointment felt like epic failures, clearly God had our backs, throughout those hard times. Although an outsider would be hard-pressed to appreciate how English was our second language after sarcasm and mockery, we have many good and happy memories now.

Two years ago Roan, Seagh, Opal and I had been a family together under one roof again. Instead of joining us here in Texas by now, three months after Roan and I blazed a new trail for us to follow, Seagh laid his bike down and went on to heaven. That seemingly cataclysmic event was so unimaginable that the aftershocks still shake us a year and a half later. He wasn’t merely the voice of wisdom when hackles were up and fur was flying, extra income and the best entertainment ever, he was the glue that held us all together.

Knowing he’d kick us into high gear if we stayed down over him, we plan and pursue the life we choose together; faithful to our individual priorities and hold tightly to grand, sustaining memories with him. Each new day continues to feel harder than the previous. Still, “…It is well with my soul…”

2014-03-23 18.31.59

Family Memorial   2014March20


Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” NLT(c)

New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


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