Friday, March 26, 2010

Shepard Family Update, March 26, 2010

Who would have thought
we'd have a black son
before we knew a democrat?
~Sean Tuohy in the movie
"The Blind Side"

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Greetings on this first Friday of spring. This coming Wednesday is the birthday of my cousin Joan Shepard of Dixon, California. Joan is the daughter of Elmer Shepard, the sister of Dane Shepard, and one of the 12 grandchildren of Will and Bura (Davis) Shepard. 

The first picture is an oldie from 1985 and shows Joan with her daughter Havilah. Joan wrote me to say,

The highlight of my year has to be Havilah and Kevin’s marriage. They are so suited for each other. Their wedding in January in the Utah desert was touching and just plain exhilarating! As they recited vows we looked out over the Little Grand Canyon and its breathtaking depths filled with pristine snow. Then we romped in the sunny cold with Wardle family and friends (see pictures of me at target practice and riding an inner tube).  

Now that I’m at that time of life when one feels “stationed” in job and responsibilities, it’s so refreshing to share adventures with children and grandkids. I look forward to many more happy times ahead, even in winter climes. 

Here in Northern California, I’m still teaching high school and, now that spring approaches, weeding our garden plot—the front courtyard. I’m making use of every available spot between roses and ornamental grass. My mind turns to Bura and her kitchen garden. I’ll probably plant scalloped squash, her favorite, remembering how she taught me the importance of sowing seeds that could be harvested much later in life. My best wishes to Nathan and Chenda and the eager grandparents!

Best wishes for a very Happy Birthday, Joan!

Family and Media. A couple of weeks ago I made some comments to you about an interesting TV program on Friday evenings related to family research. Here are some other thoughts on Family and Media.

"The Blind Side" is a wonderful new movie starring Sandra Bullock - and for which she recently received an academy award. It is based on a true story concerning a well to do family in a southern city, who breaks conventional barriers and welcomes into their home, and into their hearts, a needy person far less fortunate than they. It is a poignant reminder that the best families are those who can expand their family life to include others, in the spirit of compassionate outreach.

Another recent movie that speaks to this same theme is "Up." Like "The Blind Side", it was also a finalist earlier this month at the Academy Awards. It too is an inspiring and heartwarming tale, although of a very different sort. But it also tells of how opening our hearts and our families to include others can be a serendipitous, even life changing, experience.

I did not always understand that. When I was growing up, our family lived in San Diego and was very involved in our church in Linda Vista. Young military men who were lonely and far from home, would regularly visit our congregation. Our family would often invite them to have lunch with us after church and enjoy a home cooked meal. Sometimes they would stay for hours, perhaps all day.

I can remember on occasion getting a little miffed by some of them who seemed to overstay their welcome, or cause us to alter our family plans. But these days I am grateful for the lesson that taught me about stretching the limits of family love. I am encouraged by families who are willing to reach out and bring others into their circle. It reminds me that in many ways one's family is defined more by love and compassion than simply by blood.
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