One of my assignments this semester is to analyze a family story that is told regularly and has become a symbolic part of the larger family narrative. I've been thinking of what family story I might choose. I could tell of the time my little sister got a spanking on the way to Disney World for singing the Chili's jingle a zillion and one times (one time too many, apparently). I could tell of how Katie once called me in tears after she had tried to cut Noah's hair, accidentally forgetting to put a guard on the trimmer. (He had to wear a toboggan in his school Christmas program that year.) I could use those, or I could use a story I heard recently in a completely unexpected moment.
I heard the story - or, more specifically, a reference to the story - in a hospital ICU room, my family surrounding my Uncle Ronnie as he lay comatose in the hospital bed. We had just gotten the news. Uncle Ronnie has been battling a rapidly advancing cirrhosis of the liver for several months. He was recently put on the list for a liver transplant, but now this. His mother, brother, sisters, wife, children, and the rest of us now stood around the bed, silent, teary-eyed, afraid. Eyes shifted about from Uncle Ronnie to the floor and back again. After a moment, my aunt Charolette spoke up.
After three years of discussion, prayer, and more discussion, we're staying where we are. Billy asked me if I thought I had lost the debate. Katie remaining unconvinced of the move, had I reluctantly conceded? I told him I didn't think so. While Katie's feelings weighed heavily in the decision, our choice to stay here rather than to go to seminary is just that, our choice. There are many wonderful reasons to stay put, loving and being loved not the least of those reasons.