Sunday, January 20, 2008

$40, a thank you note and only God can judge me

I gave my son $40 dollars one day. He was working at the Jewish Community Center and it was his first job, but needed a little extra.

Let me tell you about Tye. He is an outstanding young man, intelligent, athletically gifted, cuter than Tiger Wood and Tyson Beckwith and my son - I am proud of him.

One day while doing the dreaded mother's task of going into the dungeon/family room/basement - I was picking up the used 7-11 cups, dishes and the stuff that generally festers in the rooms of teenagers all across America.

I came across a beautiful Japanese notecard on the floor. I picked it up and read it, thinking it was mine. The note was from a mother whose son was in Tye's program at the JCC - he was a camp counselor. He also got to earn extra money doing babysitting on the side. The mother expressed her thanks that Tye had taken her son to the movies and was spending extra time with him. She and her husband had recently separated and her son was acting out and spending time away from home and she was worried. Of course, I should not have read the note, but am glad that I did - I was tearful as I read the pain and gratitude contained between the lines in this note.

It takes a village to raise a child.

I am thankful for the home teachers, friends, neighbors, track coaches, and others who helped me raise my son, Tye - he played basketball at church at all of our 3 wards in Utah in Taylorsville, the Kearns 34th and the Avenues 1st ward. I am thankful to Wain and Mike, Craig and Dennis for taking all of my boys to church and playing basketball with them - pretty gutsy for men in their 50's to take on the Daley boys. They were the Kearns 34th ward bishopric. I am grateful for that ward for loving me and taking me in, even when I told them I was not sure that I was going to stay in the church. I am thankful to Bill who met with Tye regularly and told him to call anytime he was needed - he told me would take him to get cheese fries at a restaurant in SLC - I can't remember the name. I don't know if Bill and Tye ever went out for cheese fries - Tye is a health nut, I can't imagine him eating them - but I do know that Bishop Bill Barnes - everyone calls him Bill - was the father of my ward and went above and beyond to see that the needs of our family were met. There is a reason a lay ministry works so well - God qualifies the called, not the other way around. Bill and Wain served as mission companions in Scotland - I am glad that they were my two Bishops and friends in Utah. I cried many tears in their offices, and used more Kleenex than I probably should have - more than once, they had to refill a box during our "meetings/therapy sessions." The LDS church is not perfect, but they are trying really hard to better the lives of their members, which could account for their staggering membership - over 11 million and they are the second largest growing religion in the world.

One Sunday, long after I ceased attending services in my Avenues ward, Tye went to church by himself - "train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." He wore a smart polo shirt and clean jeans and shirt - granted, not the white shirt and dress pants that he wore when he was younger, but I have a theory that God does not really care what we wear to church, or even where we worship - he just cares that we go. Tye came home and I asked him how church went - he said that a man in the ward had come to him and said "Do you think you should be wearing that shirt? You should wear a white shirt and cover up that tattoo." Ironically, Tye's first tattoo reads in a beautiful script: "ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE ME." I am not sure how often Tye went to church alone after that. I went with him because that had been the family tradition - I wondered often who that man was and why he would have said that to a teenager who would come to church ALONE after his active mother of 22 years in the LDS faith had ceased to participate. I went to church because he wanted me to be there with him - I also went because I wanted to protect him - you can touch me but don't touch mine. Mothers have been known to kill for their children in the animal kingdom, and in many civilizations, including our own.

One night, I heard a prowler in the back yard. I called 911 and woke Tye up because I was scared. The SLCPD officer who showed up in minutes came to the house, light flashing. He went around the back and checked for the "prowler". He then came and rang the doorbell . I was relieved that a public safety officer was available to answer my first ever 911 call. Imagine my relief when I recognized officer Sonny Ricks. He had worked with me on the CAT team during my tenure at the mayor's office. He explained to me that there are raccoons in the avenues - that is what I had heard, and not a prowler - hey, I was raised in London - who knew that SLC had a raccoon population and in the Avenues to boot. He went on his way and told me to always call when I felt unsafe. Fortunately, I never had to call again.

Tye slept on the loveseat that night, armed with a knife, just in case a "prowler" came back. I was still a tad anxious. I slept on the couch. I was too scared to sleep in my room which was at the back of our home, where I would hear the raccoons prowling.

He had my back and was protecting his mother. I will always have his back.

God, I love that kid.

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