Bus station, 1990, Christmas week. Dad is driving me to the bus station; return to Denver, after four days for Christmas in the deep South. Me, the “Black Sheep” riding a bus for 24 hours to see Mom & Dad, brothers, their wives, their children. The dining room table loaded with excellent food, everyone sat to eat and tell stories of reflection. I had not fully earned the privilege of telling stories. Yet, out of the family’s kindness, I was allowed to tell a story or two, in the spirit of being tolerated. My stories were not told with such Southern finesse. I often think of Bruce Hornsby’s lyrics, from “The Way It Is”:
“That’s just the way it is
Some things will never change
That’s just the way it is
Ah, but don’t you believe them …”
Bruce Hornsby, “The Way It Is”
Our families, our people, not necessarily the same. One can find betrayal and love in both, our families, our people. One of “my people” is a guy … Stan (not his real name) I met in college; we worked non-glamorous, campus jobs. Stan, in charge of the Custodial crew, and I in charge of the Grounds crew. That was 30 years ago. We have stayed close since then; closer than a brother. Stan was a groomsman at my wedding. He brought me with him into the inner city of Denver to help, and to encourage, those who lived there. There were a few times when I was in the hospital, he was there. When our youngest was born, Stan came to the hospital. Stan has seen me, known me, and helped me in my darkest of times. Stan is an example of my people; not my family. Stan has never judged me; never excluded me; never made feel inferior. My family? My family has loved me, and encouraged me. And yet, Stan is closer than a brother. I ask myself, “Why would a post like this come around now?” It isn’t Christmas. This post is not about Christmas. This post is connected to a fairly difficult winter, and not because of the winter conditions. It has been a bleak, cold, winter in my soul. At times, sunless. I am so hungry for Spring. And during this harsh winter, my friend … Stan … has been there, and here, for me and with me. My people.