Yesterday started like any other day except that I had posted my blog shortly after midnight. That meant I was awake long after my customary bedtime. Despite that, I was up, dressed and on my way to work by 6:00 a.m. except that I didn’t work there anymore. I was attending the meeting of the Texas Coalition of Homes for Children. The meeting was a recap of this year’s Texas legislative session and the unprecedented progress our organization and membership made in promoting a better understanding of the kind of work that we do in providing quality care for children.
The two lobbyists who had orchestrated securing legislative sponsors for the legislation we’ve longed for well over a decade did an incredible job. Currently, the bill that defines our type of care as “a least restrictive setting”, passed through both the House and the Senate and is awaiting signature by the Governor.
The two lobbyist chronicled the steps along the way and the incredible opposition on the part of many who were opposed to our being a resource for children because we weren’t family. Kids need family! I’m not denying that; however we live in a broken world and not every family is a nurturing or appropriate resource for children.
We talked some about the idealistic young adults who passionately opposed our legislation because “we didn’t have an understanding of what children really need” and we didn’t understand Federal law and we didn’t this and we didn’t that. Honest to God, they were the folks out of step with reality. The simply didn’t know what they didn’t know.
“Patronizing” is probably the best word to describe how many of them came across at public hearings and in venues where we attempted to meet to sort out our differences. Long story short, there are some things too precious for compromise. We would never agree. Both sides were passionate about their values and beliefs and neither was willing for a meeting of the minds.
There were twenty-five or more colleagues at our meeting yesterday and our recognition that our unified efforts in promoting an awareness and a better understanding of our work on the part of legislators was a feel good experience for us. Because of the misinformation, they were not an easy group to sway. They did their research and at the end of the day we were recognized as having something of value to offer children in Texas who need to live away from their family of origin.
Several in our group, including our lobbyist, tossed humor in my direction. They referenced someone who was retired and “unlike Don who is retired and still here”…. It was funny and it felt good. Before the meeting was over, I was presented with a framed certificate naming me as a “Lifetime Member of the TEXAS COALITION OF HOMES FOR CHILDREN”.
It was a feel good affirmation and I am grateful to have that kind of support and friendship by colleagues with whom I’ve worked. I did tell them, I plan to get a lot of mileage out of the lifetime membership. I want it to last for a very long time.
At some point during the day, I ran across one of the CAHM employees who expressed both delight and surprise to see me. Of course, it was only day-six of retirement, but the fact that she remembered me felt good. I’ve said for years that when I retire, after two weeks people would say Don who?
If there was a down side to the day, it was the traffic getting back home. I’ve only been out of it for less than a week, but it takes it’s toll. When I arrived at home, the General mentioned dinner. I obviously wasn’t paying close attention because I thought she asked me if I wanted to grill asparagus or we could go out. I said let’s go out.
That reminded me of one of my long time jokes. For years, I’ve told people that: “I know it is time for dinner when my wife tells me to get in the car”. It really is a joke because there isn’t a lot of variety of places to eat in Dripping Springs. The town may host seven or eight or nine banks, but there aren’t nearly that many places where you’d want to have dinner.
Jack Allen’s in Oak Hill is a great spot, but the parking lot is full by 4:00 p.m. and the likelihood of finding a place to park at 7:00 in the evening virtually non-existent. Besides that, I’d just spent two hours in traffic, why would I want to go back? I didn’t! I found myself saying, “Okay, I’ll grill the asparagus”.
Once I got the fire started on the grill, I was delighted to discover that I was grilling more than asparagus. There was also chicken breast and Zucchini squash. The General may have mentioned that earlier, but all I heard was asparagus. Don’t get me wrong, I like grilled asparagus, but I don’t want to exclusively make a meal of it. A New York strip is another story. Sometimes if I’m home alone, I can comfortably settle for just a steak. Green stuff, not so much!
At some point before I caved in and agreed to cook, I mentioned I’d really like to have a burger and fries. The General responded that she’d prefer healthier food. How surprised was I? Not very! It only took about fifteen seconds of my being outside before I was genuinely grateful that we hadn’t gone into town. I really do have the good fortune of living in a very picturesque setting.
There are days that I take it for granted because I don’t fully absorb the sights and the sounds. Shame on me! It really is the edge of heaven. Failure to remember that even for a minute is my bad.
Consequently, the General and I had a very pleasant evening and dinner was on me. She did provide gentle redirection when I got my laptop out to do some work. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a smart man. The General knows that I posted my last two blogs sometimes after midnight the previous two days. I wasn’t about to suggest that I was sleepy and tired. It wouldn’t have served me well. Like I said, I’m a smart man! Okay, maybe not so much.
All My Best!