Where were you?

When for the first time ever, a non-white male swore the oath and took the office of President of the United States of America? 

Me? I was riding in the mini-van, three kids in tow, watching the edges of snowfall creep back into shadow, listening to a fuzzy radio broadcast. 

We had a heckuva weekend around here: starting last Thursday around 4 pm, when John downed a couple valium and undressed for Dr. Vasectomy. Later, around midnight, we were headed to bed (painkillers finally kicked in) when we heard crying from Ben's room. We waited a few moments, hoping he'd fall back asleep. He did not. When I opened the door to his bedroom, I was greeted by a familiar, sickening, smell. That's right. Vomit. Lots of it. Chunks of bologna kind. Lovely.

We got the boy up, washed him off, started some laundry and I brought him to bed with me. John spent the night in the recliner. Sam and Laney were the only ones to get a decent night's sleep.

Thankfully, small bellies empty quickly and Friday was puke free. Around noon however, I got a call from school saying Laney was feeling sick at her stomach. (Did I forget to mention that I 've been sick with a bad cold since Wednesday?) After a few tears, I pulled myself together enough to go and get her. Again, thankfully, she never got sick.

My sister was supposed to come over to help that weekend, but came down with a sore throat and earache Friday night. John's Mom was in town though, and stepped in to give us a LOT of help. Sam spent the night with her Friday, then both Sam and Laney spent the day and night with her on Saturday. And she got them to church Sunday morning too! 

The second wave of tummy ills (diarrhea) began for Ben on Saturday, and we're still waiting for that to be over. But the snow has stopped, John is feeling better, and the kids are back in school, so I think we'll survive.

The kids were out for MLK, jr day on Monday, and it snowed. Then they got a bonus snow day Tuesday and though they had a blast throwing snow balls and sledding on trash can lids, they still needed to eat. And since I hadn't made it to the grocery store, or even out of the house in 5 days, we headed out for lunch, to Sonic.

A block away from home, I scanned the radio stations, listening for that presidential voice. When I found it, I adjusted the speaker balance and turned up the volume. It was rather unlike a hush falling, and more like a still emptiness being carved out when my children stopped their chattering. Important words tumbled into their ears and I never had to ask them to be quiet.

I took the long route to fast-food, still unsure of our chosen destination. And we drove slowly down Kingston Pike soaking in the wonder of peaceably transferred power. 

Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sanh.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

The speech was winding down as we pulled up to the park and order intercom, when from the back of the van, Sam suddenly asked, "Who are we listening to?"

"It's our new president," I told him. "Today is the Inauguration."

"Oh," said Laney and Sam, and silence fell again.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

We heard his final words, we ordered our corn dogs and french fries, and waited. When the food finally came, a poet had stepped up to the microphone. I listened to a few of her words as we pulled out of the parking lot, but the kids were wrapped up in salty sweets and I scanned the radio for some tunes. 

This is the song I finally landed on, and as I listened to the verses, I felt so distinctly American.


Dear God. In my family, country, and world, in the depth of this winter, may Hope and Virtue not merely survive. May they gather strength under the cold dirt. May their roots grow strong and deep. May the dividing of seasons be made complete, and the work of patience be made perfect. May we know Spring from her very first breath. Hope bloom and multiply on every branch. Virtue spread her pollen far and wide, before the final Harvest comes. 

Let it be so, dear Lord, let it be so. Amen.


Ann said...

You definitely do have a way with words! Thanks for sharing the past few days...

Sherry said...

I was sitting on my couch in my jammies. We had a snow day, but no snow. What an amazing day for our country. Thanks for sharing!


Janna said...

Aw, thanks Ann! I've enjoyed checking out your blogs too. You are a busy Mama!

Sherry- snow in Virginia Beach, that'll never happen, right? Thanks for stoppin' by.

BTW and FYI: John disclosed his v-day procedure on his facebook status, so I felt it was ok to mention on my blog. I would not have done so if he hadn't already outed himself there!

ked said...

it was a nice day:)

Tricia said...

Janna... I think your blog is more "rainbow" than dull. :-)

And... Bon Jovi rocks. ALWAYS!

Tricia :-)

Carrie Bevell Partridge said...

I love the description of taking the long route to fast food. :) I enjoyed reading this.

Janna said...

Thanks Tricia. I had never thought of that definition of dull. I just mean the opposite of Rainbow Brite -- you know ms. perky. But I've always said the rainbow is the MOST important part.

Carrie, thanks for the compliment. I love keeping up with the Partridge family on your blog!

Mother Letter said...

Dear Janna, with two "n"s. Although I *might* have been talking about a different Jana who spells her name with one "n", I can see that you are extremely convicted. Conviction and action usually go hand-in-hand. I can't wait to see what you put together.

And *if* I was talking about you, and misspelled your name, please know that I am terribly sorry although I will not admit that I was talking about you because I am sure there is a Jana out there who needs to throw a letter into the mix and... that's the woman about whom I was talking... or something.

Rachel said...

I was at the post office, and have not even been able to listen to his speech yet. But after reading your quotes from it, I think I'm going to search it out right now. Thanks for sharing.

Rhonda said...

Love it! I finally got to read the speech. I never heard it. I think we were playing in the snow. Please keep writing...you inspire me. Sam, Laney, and Ben are lucky to have you as their mamma.