Thursday, November 7, 2013

What is really important, in my opinion

      Not writing about sports today, not directly. This is one of those slice-of-life pieces -- as some of my journalism friends call them -- that I like to write occasionally.
      Unlike many of my blog pieces, which I formulate in my mind beforehand (mostly during my daily walks), I'm going "stream of consciousness." So bear with me.
      OK, I want to write about love. Yes, you read that correctly.
      When I told our daughter about the subject matter, she replied, "The Beatles said it best: All you need is love."
      Well, there are other needs -- food and clothes come to mind first; money and shelter are good to have; restrooms and bathrooms are nice; and you can add a variety of your own "needs."
      Then there is entertainment -- television, movies, videos, video games, games. In reading a couple of non-sports books the past month -- yes, that does happen -- I came across this passage: Sports "is a foolish waste of precious time."
      I never quite heard it put that way. Pretty sure I don't totally agree.
      But, honestly, I'm disenchanted with a few things this week -- in sports, in politics, in the world. And what I keep coming back to is that all these games, involving these teams which we (I) love, the results are fleeting. There are going to be more games, more results next week, next year.
      We can always come back to the video tapes and games, and the movies, and the television.
      Family endures. Love endures. A family's love endures. I keep this first and foremost in my mind; this is what is really important to me.
      Friends, too, the friends that have been there seemingly forever. Maybe you don't agree on some things in sports and politics and social issues, but you put aside those differences and know that those people will be there for you whenever.
      But what brings all this to the forefront is (1) the books I've been reading about a complicated family relationship involving the religion in which I was raised and (2) our children and their children.
      We had some complicated family relationships; the Van Thyn parents had been through a helluva lot before Elsa and I came along, and maybe that explains some of the dysfunction in our home. And, honestly, Elsa and I passed that along to our respective spouses and kids.
      I can assure you of this: I always felt loved -- not only at home, but in school and everywhere beyond. I was lucky to find a spouse who was loyal beyond belief -- a loyalty not always reciprocated -- and we tried to pass our love on to our kids, who endured some tough battles of their own.
      Unlike Elsa and me, our kids were able to know and enjoy being around their grandparents. They loved them all a lot, but there is one moment that stands out for me.
      At my Dad's funeral, the time came to lower the casket in the grave and we then began the ancient ritual of burial, shoveling the dirt on the casket. I see this clearly still; as long as my memory holds up, I will not forget my kids' turn to shovel -- Jason in his dark suit, Rachel in a black dress. Rachel sobbing, Jason's eyes hidden by sunglasses but I'm sure he, too, was crying.
      They loved their Opa Louie, and they were feeling the loss.
      It was one of the saddest moments I've experienced, and one of the grandest. Gosh, I loved my kids so much at that moment.
      Now it's their kids -- Rachel's Josie (who is 6), and Jason's Jacob (4) and Kaden (2) -- who love their Opa (that's me) and their Granny. And it's that love, unconditional, that innocence, that totality, which is the greatest gift we've experienced.
      It's like this is what makes all the years, all the problems and successes, worthwhile.
      We felt this way about our kids, too, of course, but when you're young and you're working and you're involved in the world, and you're worried about doing what's right for your kids, you can screw it up. I know I was too hard on them at times, especially Rachel.
      Believe me, they are 39 and 34 now, and we still worry about them; they still turn to us, especially their mother, for nearly daily updates, for guidance and advice.
      Their kids -- our grandkids -- can wear us out, and they can try us out, and, yes, they need to be disciplined at times. By the time that it's time to say good-bye and go home, we are ready.
      And not long after we leave, we miss them.
      When, after a four-day stay in Knoxville last month, we told Josie that we were leaving to go home to Texas, she dropped her head and said, "Awww." Knowing that she probably won't see Opa and Granny again for a few months, she wanted more time with us.
      Last week, as Jacob and Kaden were set to get in Jason's car for the hour's ride home after a busy afternoon spent with us (an afternoon that, thankfully, included long and hard-fought naps), Jacob said, "We'll come back tomorrow." Kaden, on one visit, pitched forward on all fours and screamed "nooooooo" when told it was time to leave. 
      This, to me, is clearly what love -- and feeling loved -- is about. It's all we need.


  1. From Tom Morris: Great job, Nico. We've had a grandchild in the house for most of his 12 years of age. Would not change it for anything as he is a blessing to Cathy and me. Now, come March, all that will change as we'll head your way to North Richland Hills for the first granddaughter's birth.

  2. From Angie Vierling: That was beautiful and inspiring ... thank you!

  3. From Leo Van Thyn: Couldn't have said it better.

  4. From Sandy Guerra-Cline: What a lovely post.

  5. From Sandi Tison Atkinson: You are such a marshmallow inside. That was beautifully expressed.

  6. From Jesse Carrigan: Nice, Nico. And for the very reasons you feel love, your family, past, present and future, will grow and live all together throughout eternity. Guaranteed! God is love.

  7. From Jimmy Russell: I think as we get older we begin to see what is really important in our lives. I have mixed emotions about a lot of things, but what you said certainly is true.

  8. From Don Landry: I really liked your article on love. Good job.