A Thousand Thanks (at least) continued
Harry Scott Coverston with Grandfather, Thomas Burton Webb, Gainesville, FL,1954
Family of Birth:
Family means having had two wonderful biological parents, intelligent, loving, protective and supportive. Family means being the child of flawed human beings who produced yet another flawed human being in this child. But family means that while we like people because, we love people in spite of. Family gives us much to work with in both categories. I am grateful for my family of birth this day. They have provided me deep roots upon which to grow my own very rich and fortunate life.
Family means missing my saintly mother every single day of the five years she has been departed this realm of existence. Family means watching my 83 year old father - who misses her even more - creaking and groaning as he tries to retain a dignified life as grandfather, father and a revered teacher in the small county where he was born, taught and still lives. Family means ignoring the blaring Fox Entertainment Channel while visiting him. Family means being thankful for every day my Father still has to spend on this earth and wishing I could spend more of them with him.
Family means bobbing in the flood of memories that comes unbidden every time I visit the woods where I spent 11 years of my life as a child. It is the 300 year old live oak sprawling across half an acre on whose moss covered limbs the three of us once walked as children. It is the remnants of a rock garden where I once worked out my grief over never fitting into that farming, football and firearms culture I could neither completely comprehend nor fully participate in. It is the photos on the wall of our home that remind me of painful proms, of the fun of being in the high school band, of defending my brother with his partial cleft palate against the brutish redneck kids who teased him unmercifully, of family meals and trips together. It is recognizing that, painful as that growing up experience may have been, it taught me many things that I probably could not have learned any other way for which I am grateful this day, albeit from the comfortable distance of time and space.
Family means being grateful for a wonderful Sister who my Mother once described as my “slow twin,” separated by 10 years but uncannily alike in more ways than either of us like to think about. She is one of my life’s great delights. Family means loving her two boys growing into young men, hoping for the best for each of them. Family means loving a Brother who could hardly be more different from me and yet knowing that our lives will always be intertwined, that we need the other more than either of us wants to admit. Family means loving his wife even as we all continually worry about her myriad health problems. Family means never talking about religion or politics with either of them. Ever. Family means loving their children, two hard headed Coverston young men and a little jewel of a daughter. Family means being an uncle who adores that little red headed, freckled, ice blue eyed girl and watching her turn into a brilliant and beautiful young lady amidst the fish tanks, hermit crabs and snakes with whom she shares her bedroom. And Family means watching my nephew from afar, finding himself – finally – in the deeply generative culture of San Francisco with his very patient and loving partner.
Family means loving aging aunts in places from Pensacola to Providence, RI, as the last vestiges of my father and mothers’ immediate families fade into history.
Family means being grateful for the privilege of being a member of such an interesting, brilliant and loving family of birth. I am the recipient of a very fortunate birth. And I never take that for granted.
Family of Choice:
I have always said that I have the best friends in the world. My family of choice is nearby and far away. I hear from some by Facebook, some by email, some by phone and some I simply see every week. They are too numerous to mention by name here, again, a problem many probably wish they had. But, I have always recognized how fortunate I have been to know such bright, talented, compassionate and devoted people. I am deeply grateful this day for my family of choice without whom my very fortunate life would be greatly impoverished.
I am thankful for the relatively good state of my health. Truth be told, I could be healthier. This has been a very long and draining semester. I’ve put on about 10 additional pounds and have largely been unable to do any walking. I’ve also had to undergo laser surgery to prevent a detached retina. Even so, those are relatively minor concerns (particularly given those some of my friends have faced this year) and I am fortunate enough to have insurance to cover my medication and treatment, something not everyone in America can yet say. I also have a lighter term coming up this spring that should allow walking and commuting to work by bus to reenter my routine. I am grateful for that.
It is little secret that I have been fairly unhappy with my work the past year. Devoting one’s heart and soul to a factory process that is focused mostly on numbers and dollars is a losing game for anyone with an IQ above a rutabaga and an awareness of the world that doesn’t stop at corporate cable TV or the local big box store.
Even so, I am thankful I have a job when so many Americans are out of work. And I am grateful that I am fortunate to work with bright, compassionate people, many of whom share my concerns about the corporatization of the university and the consumerization of the student body. A number of them I include in my family of choice.
I am also privileged to work with a handful of students who actually want to become educated and do not resent being called to do so above and beyond the mere procuring of credit hours needed for the degree required for working credentials. It is they who make it bearable to carry along the many mere warm bodies in seats and online. You know who you are. And I thank you.
For the colleagues who care and the students who allow me to feel that my efforts actually do make a difference, I am very, very thankful. And for the glimmer of hope I have that my work situation might actually change in the next year, I am even more grateful.
The Rev. Harry Scott Coverston, M.Div. J.D., Ph.D.
Member, Florida Bar (inactive status)
Priest, Episcopal Church (Dio. of El Camino Real, CA)
Instructor: Humanities, Religion, Philosophy of Law
University of Central Florida, Orlando
If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding.Most things of value do not lend themselves to production in sound bytes. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++