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Seeds of Change

I had plans to write about seed saving this month, but for whatever reason, I was delayed in getting started. This morning at 7 a.m., a phone call from my son informed us a different seed had ripened and was making his presence known. My newest grandson, Joseph Francis, is ready to join us, bringing our family members to a total of thirteen.

As we await our new arrival, I reflect on my family tribe, its expansion, and how humans have been welcoming new members for 50,000 years or so, probably more. If a woman was lucky, when she gave birth, the family circled her with love and attention, pulling on their abilities and personal experience from the previous generation. The mother and child’s health played an important role, and their well-being insured the survival of the species. It was possible that the newest tribal member might very well be the next medicine woman or warrior that would save the tribe from doom.

Nature and Nurture

Today, those tribal needs continue, yet it is more encompassing. In a perfect world, a new child is nurtured, regardless of his or her nature, and one balances the other. I have watched my own children and my gaggle of grandsons enter this world with their own personalities. Reared by the same parents and environment, they cling to their identity. Adults speculate about what profession or path they will choose and how their character will develop. But often we are surprised by the outcome. Some children, regardless of their upbringing, choose to leave the tribe. Others must leave the tribe to survive.

I happened to have been blessed with a very tight family. As an idealistic teen, there were times when they didn’t exemplify the family I had envisioned. To be fair, It could be I wasn’t what they envisioned. If you’ve ever seen the reruns, Everybody Loves Raymond, that television sitcom epitomized my childhood family. But they were also my greatest fans, and as it should be, they gave me the security everyone craves. My parents and sibling have all passed, but I remember them daily, the knowledge they shared, both good and bad, and remind myself I can do it better and bring this generational gift to my own family.

I can’t wait to see my son and daughter-in-law emerge as new parents. Both my daughters are better parents than me, so I have high hopes for my son. This new baby could be a challenge to all of us, try our patience and frustrate us while simultaneously filling our hearts with love. Just like Forrest Gump advised us, life really is like a box of chocolates and under the right circumstances it can be very sweet.


Being the Change

Some of us choose not to have children or may not have that option. Yet there are so many ways to influence our younger community members. Maybe the child down the street needs a kind word from you. Sometimes, all you have to do is show interest in what interests them. It’s okay if you don ‘t get it. You might learn something new.

As a child I had no idea what my family meant to my best childhood friend. Despite our loud, boisterous, and uncouth ways, decades later, I learned my home was my friend’s safe place. One day she confessed that my family had brought her comfort with copious amounts of food, laughter, and chaos, and she relished sleepovers at my house. My father was a playful tease, mom was a nurturer to the max, my goofy brother stayed in the background antagonizing me at every opportunity. It was the acceptance and security she needed. Sometimes, just being you is the most valuable thing you can do for a young person.

If a neighborhood child doesn’t need your attention, consider the Big Brother and Big Sister program, designed to mentor children in need of time, something so valuable. Do you know there is a Facebook site where you can sign up to be a surrogate grandparent? Seasoned adults are connected with local families separated from their own parents. You can sign up as a volunteer or sign up as a family in need. Check out Surrogate Grandparents-USA at

If none of this suits you, visit your local school or church and offer your help. You’d be surprised at what you can accomplish. A few dedicated hours of your time can redirect another person’s future. It's a new year. You can plant the seeds of change.

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