Monday, April 14, 2008


Driving in Lee's car to pick up the kids and This American Life is on, a young boy talking about how his dad changed and how he sometimes acts more like a kid than an adult. I'm holding on to his words--what's he going to say next because I want to know more about why people change and why they don't and when adults act like kids and when kids act like adults. I listen a few more mintues and I start thinking about Gloucester figure Jon Sarkin because the boy on the radio is describing what it is like to live with someone who has had a stroke. In the next minute I hear Jon's voice talking about the kind of relationship he and his wife used to have--before the stroke. "Closer than most couples," he says.

I listen to every word. About the birthday party and the balloons and the cake and misunderstanding when Jon's lazy and when he isn't. I listen to his wife describe how he talks with his siblings and parents and how there is a piece of the "old Jon" that comes through, how tired he is afterward.

I can't stop listening. And then it's over. Just like that and Ira Glass's voice says that he's recently checked in with the Sarkins and that Curtis is in college and that the girls are teenagers. The program originally aired in 2000. "The family is still together," Glass says.

Later at home I find the program on the computer and listen to it in its entirety. There's an introduction that references the book Nobody's Family is Going to Change by Louise Fitzhugh of Harriet the Spy fame and I start thinking about my Utah family and people and change. I want to have more patience with my family, as 12-year-old Curtis suggests during the program, but then there isn't anything wrong with their brains, mostly. That I know of.

Perhaps it's the "that I know of" piece of it that makes me want to try with them. It's easy to write them off, or be angry or impatient with them. It's much more difficult to find a way in--to say these are my people and I am going to make sense of them the best that I can, despite failures and frustrations. Though it's unlikely that any of us will change much, it's possible for us to have something rather than nothing--this something devoid of hoping that things can change, even a little. Because if I don't expect things to change--at all--and then they do--well I don't have a word for this. Or maybe this should be my definition of hope.

To listen to the program click here.

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