So break the bread and pour the wine
I need no blessings but I’m counting mine
Life is much more than money buys
When I see the faith in my children’s eyes
I cannot claim to be brilliant enough to have written the above stanza, it’s from the last David Gilmour LP On an Island . It’s perhaps my favorite tune of his from the disc – which is quite brilliant – because of it’s off-time vocals and on-time refrain. That, and it’s David Freaking Gilmour.
But the stanza is the inspiration that sparked me tonight. I don’t know the man’s motivations for the writing. After all, being a key member of the band Pink Floyd and touring the nation to screaming fans in arenas, he’s not hurting for cash. He lives on a boat in England . . . that’s equivalent to a mansion on the water. Calm enough the recorded On an Island on it.
But I listen to that song and it’s strangely appropriate. People tend to look at me a bit cockeyed when I say we are doing well, that we’re counting our blessings . . . because we really do have them.
After the first few weeks last year the kids were motivation. They were in need of strong people and I relied a lot on my folks. After that, I took on the role of being both parents and it seemed to work. It wasn’t easy, nor was enjoyable a lot of the time. But slowly, over the course of the last year, I’ve seen those four kids move from motivation to . . . well . . . blessings. I’m not being religious in my tone here, I’m being a proud Dad.
Noah used to be the complaining-est, grumpiest, most spoiled kid on the planet. He wanted his way or he screamed. When he screamed it drove his Mom and Grandma nuts until they caved in and he got his way. Now, however, he’s much more agreeable. Sure, he likes to be the center of attention. He likes to put his nose where it doesn’t belong. He asked – incessantly – for things he wants. Still does. But when he’s told “no” there’s no more tantrum. No screaming. He likes to help and do his chores.
Hannah was Andrea’s little girl. She didn’t like being girly. She didn’t like dresses. Still doesn’t. She didn’t like hanging out with her Dad. We didn’t play favorites, not at all. We tried our hardest to treat each of them the same. But what we didn’t do was try to interrupt that. Hannah had a hard time and I went crazy over the last year trying to keep the girl on-track. But now . . . while she won’t do her chores without incessant complaint from me . . . she hugs me the moment I’m home. She checks her homework. She plays guitar. It’s a big shift and a big change for a little girl so hurt.
Sam . . . he was always the flirt, the funloving kid. When I’d sit next to my wife he’d muscle his way between us to be by his Mom. He hugged and loved me, but he favored the girls in the house. After he lost his Mom he grew reserved, quiet and withdrawn. He spent excessive amounts of time in rooms away from the rest of us. He wasn’t the Samwise we all knew. Now, though, he comes and stands in front of me, looks up and says: “hug?” Then throws his arms around me. He makes sure we’re all together. Every 15 minutes he checks to make sure I’m here and when I say “yeah, Sam?” I hear: “love you!” and the scurrying feet of him going back to his room.
Abbi had the biggest change, though much of it is due to age. She’s the girly girl. She faced no dates for dances and no boyfriend and breaking up over text the month her Mom died. She picks up the kids and figured out ways to get them home during her drama practices. Where before she clashed and fought the tide she now sees she has to ride it sometimes to get by. She’s about to leave home in less than a year so and she’s stressed, but she holds court over her siblings like she has authority. Funny thing is they actually believe she has it. She’s not mothering them, she’s protecting them. I remind them and her who’s the parental authority here.
We have a roof. We have food, we get by. Sure, college is on its way. I don’t pretend that doesn’t stress me out. I do, however, know that my kids spend time with me. I don’t look at them with sadness. I don’t see us as broken any more. Sure, we were. But we’re not lost. What we are is . . . well . . . blessed.
So break the bread and pour the wine.