COLUMN: Ed Olfert — Feb. 6, 2014

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Ed Olfert
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Ed Olfert

We have three children.

Holly and I begin most mornings with a bit of cereal and toast, then coffee on the couch covered by a mother-made afghan. The wall beside us holds the wedding pictures of each of our three, below which are smaller pictures of their little ones. This chunk of wall serves as a daily reminder of who and whose we are.

Kira is the oldest. She is a freelance writer, (a couple of her scribblings have appeared in the Herald) and is married to a military man. Kira lives about two hours away, and she and her partner have two daughters.

Jen is our middle child. She is a paralegal, currently working at that part time. Her husband is a farmer. They are about one hour away, and also have two daughters.

Jeb is the baby of the family. He is the owner/operator of a truck, while his wife is a customer service rep. They are a half hour away, and have our two little boys.

Life is good.

Many years ago, when our eldest was in the three-four range of age, I recall a conversation with her, the topic escapes me, when I first caught a glimpse that she held thoughts and opinions of her own, that her experiences had led her to conclusions that were unique to her alone. Certainly head knowledge would suggest this isn’t a big deal, but emotionally, for me, it was a big deal. Kira has been known to express at least a few more opinions in the intervening years.

Over the decades I’ve given some thought to what that reaction on my part was about, what it represented. I’ve decided it’s about hope. It was a tangible glimpse that this new generation would not be limited by even the best of what her mother and I could give her. No, she would step beyond, forge a new path. Kira, Jen and Jeb and their generation would leave us behind. It left me a little giddy with excitement.

I offer recent glimpses of all three.

Kira spent a weekend here recently with her girls. As we sat in the kitchen over coffee and talked, I again felt that excitement, that hope. Her views of the world, her passion, her stories of relationships, they pointed to her attempts to be the best partner, the best mother she could be. We’ve seen Kira grow through some family stresses in the past few years, grow in strength, in leadership, in compassion, in wisdom. Her girls scramble to claim places on her lap, though the oldest will look down on her before many years. Kira’s height will not serve as a metaphor for her wisdom.

Jen and her family were part of an extended family snowmobile holiday this past weekend. We spent four days at Eagles Nest Resort at East Trout Lake. It was delightful! Jen and her husband shared their girls with great uncles and aunts and everyone had a blast, snowmobiling, watching movies and curling, telling tall tales, playing Racko, and of course, eating. The final day, those who remained went to the store at the resort where we had arranged to be served brunch before the trip home. The little ones sat, giggled, teased and were teased, then ate their pancakes eagerly. Then, I noted, they both quietly asked their mother, “Mom, can I go now?”” And off they went, to explore the art work, the merchandise, the peculiarities of the little store while the rest of us lingered over coffee. I was moved again by the mutual respect and love expressed within the family dynamic.

And our boy. A few weeks ago, my old tractor broke down while blowing snow in a neighbour’s yard. It was mightily cold, the tractor could not be driven, and the neighbour and I struggled to tow it, with no steering whatsoever, back to my near-by yard. Jeb showed up on the scene with his big Dodge pickup. And yet, due to cold, ice, snow, and a recalcitrant “backwards tractor,” it was a tough chore. My boy showed me again how wise, how creative, and how determined he is. Factors that required decisions that would have me mulling for hours were met with solutions that kept us going forward, with not a wreck happening anywhere! And then, when we were finally done, and I invited him in for a bite of supper, we all look forward to these opportunities, he responded, “No, I should go home to spend some time with my boys.”

I repeat, these glimpses, in fact any healthy experience of observing a younger generation through unthreatened eyes, is most of all about delightful hope. We are being shown new ways of thinking, new ways of relating, new ways of valuing, and certainly, new ways of parenting. We are being taught that the “good old days,” if in fact they existed, are being supplanted by the “good new days,” and the common factor, if we can but hear it, is in the word, “good.”

“Behold, I am doing a new thing!”

 

Organizations: Eagles Nest Resort

Geographic location: East Trout Lake

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