I’ll be turning sixty nine years old this month and quite frankly the past twelve months have been a roller coaster of emotions for me. I have at times felt total disillusionment and at others great optimism. I did not care for nor trust either of our presidential candidates and little has happened in the ensuing time to change my feelings. It pains me to watch the wreckage created by the two individuals who vied to be leaders of our nation. I doubt that a victory by either one of them would have been less disappointing. I have to admit that my faith in our political system has been seriously tested, and yet it has somehow managed to remain intact just as James Madison had hoped that it might. The gridlock that is preventing too much damage to our nation is frustrating, but it is working to keep the damage to a minimum while I wait for our country to return to its senses.
I’ve been buffeted by tremendous personal challenges almost all year long. They have sapped my energy and sometimes left me wallowing in a pity party of doom and gloom, but again and again it has been in my encounters with the innate goodness of people that my faith in mankind has been renewed. In spite of all that has happened the one constant has been the human inclination to rise above the muck and the mud. I have witnessed the courage and kindness of family, friends and complete strangers throughout this sometimes insane passing of the months from one to another. Each incident that threatened to leave me in a state of depression and loss of hope was balanced with enough love to tip the scales in favor of the positive. I was reminded that people are not innately evil, but instead are wondrously remarkable.
My husband’s stroke was horrific and I still worry incessantly, and yet in that moment I had to totally surrender myself to faith in God and the people who so graciously helped and supported him. In the first moments my children and grandchildren proved themselves to be exactly the kind of people that I needed them to be, and they have been ever faithful since then. The firefighters and paramedics who came to our aid were heroic and compassionate. The doctors and nurses who cared for my husband in the hospital were professional and performed in a manner that no doubt saved his life. The medical personnel that we saw once we had returned home have demonstrated care and concern well beyond an impersonal relationship. They have celebrated our victories with as much joy as we have felt. Our friends have reached out with prayers and good wishes that have sustained us and reminded me of how truly blessed I have always been.
Hurricane Harvey devastated my beloved city and other parts of Texas that have always been special to me. I was trapped inside my home for days as the rains came down incessantly. I watched the human misery caused by the rising waters and cried for the pain that so many citizens and even close friends and family members were enduring. At the same time I witnessed heroic acts of bravery and thoughtfulness. In the aftermath I saw an outpouring of strength and love that reminded me of something that I have always known, namely that people are marvelous. I saw a love fest unfolding in Houston that not even fifty one inches of rain was able to drown.
It’s been difficult for me to watch friends suffering. I’ve attended far too many funerals and prayed for more who are seriously ill. Nonetheless my sadness has been tempered by my awe at the valor that I have seen. Somehow we always rise above our troubles and find ways to make the most of our most terrible situations.
Yes, I have watched in horror as a man of pure evil so cowardly took aim at innocents attending a concert in Las Vegas. He did his best to kill our spirit but in the end ordinary people rose up to defeat his hatred with their love. I’ll admit that a thief stole my husband’s identity and filed a false claim for disaster relief, but two amazing women from FEMA took immediate action to ameliorate our fears. With both calmness and resolve they methodically ferreted out the individual who had abused the generosity of the public trust, all the while speaking with genuine empathy about the terrible losses that they had seen since coming to our city from far away places just to help us to rebuild.
I have been angered and embarrassed by the fighting amongst our so called leaders. Their rhetoric and their lies have disappointed me. I have felt a sense of shame that nobody has been willing to be honest and forthright until some incredibly brave and noble public figures have been willing to speak out against the degradation of our institutions. I have marveled at the heroics of John McCain, George W. Bush, Jeff Flake, and Senator Corker. They have restored my belief that our democratic nation welcomes constructive critiques and honesty. They have reminded us that we need not defile others with our words and actions to maintain our nation’s greatness.
I have watched our hometown baseball team, the Houston Astros, demonstrating the kind of determination that has fueled the engine of our city since its inception. Their unwillingness to give up even in the face of defeat has inspired all of us. They have become the face of our hopes and dreams and optimism. They remind us that it is never too late and that we should never resign ourselves to the difficulties of challenges.
So in the past year I have learned that life may sometimes be gut wrenchingly arduous, but there will always always be people who will walk with us and support us. Each morning that we arise for a new day is a victory. We may feel as though we are overwhelmed with evil and hardship, but the world tilts toward virtue. We may think we are alone, but we never really are. Keep the faith. Never say never. Be the constant.