January 20th, 2016

Inauguration Day. It makes me sad. Not sobbing sad but melancholy for a First Family that felt like mine. Like one of my kids has lost a job he was good at. And while I know there will be another job, this is, after all, a resourceful and diligent child, I won’t see him as often.

Yes, I know you know I’m white and you may think I’m being melodramatic. Perhaps I am.

Here’s the thing: I grew up in a family of six white Kansas farm kids with a Quaker mom who wrote stories, a hard-working step-dad who told stories, and his dad, Grandpa Albert, whose stories were of “trading with the Indians” and scary stories from his Bohemian immigrant father. We always had books in our home. The farm, an 1800s land grant farm, is still in the family.

This middle-America family raised wanderers. Likely, that influence came through my biological father’s family, the Sunderlands, who wandered: six brothers who wandered from England in the 1800s, whose children who took up the wandering, and whose grandchildren did the same. My biological father was one of those wandering grandchildren. (Although Quakers wandered, too, my great-great-grandmother, for example came across the country in a covered wagon, and my step-dad’s family wandered from Europe but stayed put once they found good farmland.)

By the time I was five-years-old, we’d lived in five different places. Unfortunately, heart disease wandered with the Sunderland family and my father died young, hence the step-father. But my siblings and I took up the heritage and kept traveling.

Our children, raised by this eclectic and wandering group of siblings, married a world: one Korean, one Filipino, one African-American, and two Hispanics, and a bunch of various background white folk. Barack Obama is two years older than my oldest son who now also has gray hair and a gray beard.

What gives me hope is that there’s more of us multiple-race families who love each other; more of us who welcome strangers and make them family; more of us who care deeply for the country and our family. I’m proud to say all of us were Obama supporters.

I hope Barack Obama has a good break. Sits and stares out the window. Sleeps late. That’s what I’d wish for any of my kids/nieces/nephews after a long stretch of work.

But I’ll miss him and his elegant wife.

Afraid isn’t one of the things I do much. It’s an over-used word that means nothing. I’m afraid it’s going to rain; I’m afraid the mail hasn’t come yet; I’m afraid it’s windy today; I’m afraid they were out of mayonnaise at the grocery store.

Really? You’re afraid? Do something about it. Write letters to congress – not blasting letters but letters well-reasoned; write letters to the White House – not denigrating but

reasoned; get involved with doing instead of fearing.

I’ll join the women’s march tomorrow but avoid the sections where yelling and anger are going on. It’s not my first march. There’s a trail of them behind me. I will walk for my mother who remembered when women were “given” the right to vote; I’ll walk for my mother-in-law who never took authority, church or any other kind, seriously; I’ll walk for my friend Willy’s mother who was, eight years ago, denied communion because she wore a Hillary Clinton button to church one day. My first women’s march was in 1972, so it’s about time for another. I will support the younger ones, women and men, who are determined to change the world.

But I won’t watch as the Obamas take off in the helicopter or however they are leaving. They’re not going anywhere.

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8 thoughts on “January 20th, 2016

  1. I enjoyed reading your post. I’m sure President Obama and Michelle would love reading it also. I imagine they will continue hoping some of their positive intentions/actions never leave the halls of the Whitehouse & and the minds/hearts of the American people. They are powerfully motivating people. Their legacies firmly installed in historical record.

    Thankfully, they are now on their way to new and different things, which if in the public eye will be noticed, and probably applauded. 8 years is a long time!

    I wonder if they could have would they have stayed for 4 more years? They deserved to leave the bubble. With all going on right now (much of which makes some Americans wince), we may want to gird our loins, and brace for impact.

    As you mentioned, peacefully speak up, and speak out. Take our feelings of angst & recent lost, and use this fiery energy to make the changes we believe important, important where it counts; not excluding our own homes. I’m not sad, or mad, or upset. I’m empowered. In my opinion, what is, is for a reason. Maybe it’s the catalyst (wake up call) many people need to RISE!

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply. It will be interesting to see how the Obamas insert themselves into public life again. I expect President Obama will sit and write for a while, but I don’t expect either of the to remain silent. But at least, sleeping late, if that’s even possible after eight years of five hour nights!!
      Thanks again.

    2. PS: if you read my piece from the day the march happened, you’ll see I didn’t go, lost in grief for a woman, my soul-deep-sister, who, while educated and from an educated family, was a woman of color whose anger led her into some grievous behaviors and who died far too young.

  2. I love reading about your wonderfully mixed and wandering family. I was sad, too, that Obama’s time at the White House is over. I lived in Chicago close to his house in Hyde Park. I walked by his barber shop and Valois restaurant on 53rd St. many times. I voted early in a mostly African-American neighborhood precinct and took in their hope and excitement that Obama might become their President. The night he won my husband and his daughter went to Grant Park in downtown Chicago to be there for that incredible moment of history. I am proud to have been one of Obama’s Chicago neighbors.

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