In these uncertain times, holding on to constants gives us a feeling of security. We all look for it whether we do it consciously or not. Many, if not most, look to family to provide the blanket of protection and cover that helps us sleep at night. Familiarity breeds comfort. When we go to a concert, we don’t want to hear the new stuff. We want to hear the songs we know. The songs we can sing along with. When writing a column, the writer knows what the audience wants to read. Especially in times like these, it is important we hold on to things which gives us some level of peace. There is much we could all say about the terrifying events shown on the news. But, I won’t. Not now. I’m going to try my best to give you what you have come to expect. My pleasure comes when reading your shared comments on social media about your experiences. Your shared stories are the absolute best part of this column.

Years ago, it was common for generations of families to live together. If they weren’t under the same roof, they were on the same property. Some of it was probably driven by financial considerations. Some of it driven by tradition. Though it isn’t as prevalent anymore, I like it. Maybe it’s why I have always been drawn to the television show The Waltons. Three generations living under one roof. We see it today. But in many cases, it’s out of necessity. Just as our parents kept us under their roof for years, if folks live long enough, those roles can reverse. When and if they do reverse, it a beautiful thing. Oftentimes, physical and mental health issues prevent the role reversal, making nursing homes a blessing. When the situation allows those generations under the same roof, it’s wonderful to have them.

Life brings people in and out of our lives like the tides on a beach. It could be why so many of us find comfort sitting in the sand listening to the waves. Though I’ve known Karen Lance for years, it had been quite some time since our paths crossed. A few days ago, life put us in the same place at the same time. We made the normal small talk people make in these situations. She updated me on her boys who are now men. The more we talked, the more I was reminded of our friendship and the respect I have always had for her personally and professionally. It was then I remembered something she will never forget. She lost her Daddy, Clyde McFarland, several months ago. So, I did what anyone worth their weight in salt would do. I offered her my condolences.

Mr. McFarland spent many years in a wheelchair. He was a good man that was well thought of in the community. And being a McFarland, he was a part of a family of wonderful people who shaped the Keithsburg Community into what it is today. Karen talked fondly of her Daddy. Knowing Mr. McFarland lived in his own suite in Karen’s home, I asked her how that worked out. She started by telling me her Daddy lived with them for 17 years before his death. She made the necessary adjustments to her home so her Daddy would always be comfortable. He moved into her home around the age of 67. Mr. McFarland would live to be 84.

Karen talked about how blessed she was to have him with her for those years. She knows it doesn’t work that way for many families at no fault of their own. There was a short moment of silence before she told me she cleaned her Daddy up 10 minutes before he died. Then, behind watery eyes, she said she would gladly clean him up again and again to have more time with him. She has no regrets. The only impact having her Daddy living with her family was a positive one. I can only imagine the knowledge Mr. McFarland left to his grandsons during the time they all lived together. Karen misses her Daddy to include him being a part of her family’s household. During those 17 years, life happened to Karen just like it does to all of us. She had a hundred reasons and the means I’m sure to make other accommodations for her Daddy. If you have talked with her about this as I have, you know there was never any other option.

It was a blessing listening to Karen share her story of faith, love, and family. It wouldn’t surprise me if the last 17 years of Mr. McFarland’s life weren’t his best.

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Chris Collett is a longtime resident of Cherokee County.

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