Another Kind of Spotlight

I wrote about Uncle Claude here recently and how he was a major influence in AD’s life. As such, we often talk about him and we often talk about him to Sean.

Oral tradition, the telling of and retelling of family stories, connects us to those who came before us, those who had a hand in shaping us in some way.  Their stories are our stories and our stories are our history.  It is the through the knowledge of history that we know from whence we came, and to some degree, for better or worse, who we are.  (And perhaps it is why I love history so much.)

We tell Sean about how Uncle Claude would quietly go around town doing nice things for others, mowing lawns and fixing things. We tell him how he and Aunt Jean took in AD and his mother and brothers for a time after AD’s father died.  We tell him how he served our country and how he was a war hero. We tell these stories so that he might have an understanding of who Uncle Claude was, how he shaped us for the better and how he was, in our eyes, a great man.

But he’s only six. We don’t really know how much of these stories he absorbs and remembers.

But, truth be told, maybe we tell our family stories because we need to tell them moreso than because he needs to hear them.

Be that as it may, late last week Sean and AD were sitting together on the sofa and the evening news was on in the background.  A segment came on enumerating all the famous people who had died in 2009 — everyone from Walter Conkrite to Soupy Sales.  When it was over, Sean turned to AD and said, “I guess we missed the part where they talked about Uncle Claude.”

I had to laugh, not just at the idea that the national news would mark the passing of our beloved uncle, but also because Uncle Claude died before Sean was born.

But I did pause to ponder what the news would be like if they did more stories on ordinary people doing good things and less stories on famous people doing bad things.  Wouldn’t that make the world a nicer place? I think so.

But then again, Uncle Claude would never seek nor accept the spotlight or the applause of human hands. And that’s part of what made him so great.  He spent his life seeking another kind of applause, another kind of spotlight, another kind of reward.

I like to think that one day in heaven, on the nightly news, there was this story:

“Today in the greater Tuna metroplex, a man who goes by the name of Uncle Claude went on a goodness spree.  After tossing the football with a fatherless boy, he mowed the grass at the church.  Later he fixed a broken screen door for a widow lady. There were no eye witnesses.  He was last seen driving a 1977 Ranchero.  Back to you in the studio, Gabe.”

34 thoughts on “Another Kind of Spotlight

  1. Your boy is so sweet. And, yes, I do think the world would be a nicer place if we focused on good deeds rather than the bad.

  2. Lovely. We need to seek out and emulate the “Uncle Claude”s around us, not put them in the spotlight, I think. Loved your heavenly nightly news. 🙂

  3. I agree, the world would be a much better place … especially if there were more Uncle Claude’s out there. I personally believe that the media is a big part of why there isn’t! It’s much easier to get recognized if you’re bad.

    Keep telling the stories … for both you and Sean!

  4. I think I would have enjoyed having “uncle claude” as a friend..like the “over the back fence” kind of friend…someone who just enjoys….everything!!! Sean listens better than we thought huh??? LOL…God Bless…hugs from Ora in KY

  5. Part of the problem is that many of the character’s in the news are such extreme narcissists that they crave attention. Any attention whether good or bad.

    The Claude’s of this world do their deeds quietly and without much fanfare. Yet the effect of these saints ripples through our lives for years and years and years. Which enables a fatherless boy, to someday be a great dad himself.

  6. Yes, yes, I like to think the nightly news in heaven might be about the simple unselfish goodness of people who choose to follow in Jesus’ steps. Makes me smile. So why am I wiping away tears?

  7. That’s the kind of news that would be a pleasure to watch.

    Sean’s comment made me laugh and tear up a little. No doubt Uncle Claude’s story has made an impact on his life in ways you can’t begin to imagine.

    His legacy cannot be hollowed out or diminished, ever.

  8. It’s such a shame that story-telling is diminishing in our culture (too easy to turn on the tv, I guess). I so agree with you about how our family stories shape us.

    My kids love to hear stories about me when I was a child, and as I tell them, it reminds me how much I used to love hearing my mom tell stories about when she was a child, when I was a child. (Too many versions of “when … was a child” in that sentence!) The need to hear and the need to tell, all bundled up together.

  9. I think more of us would go on goodness sprees if only we stopped worrying/hurrying through life. My husband and I try to remind each other about good deeds and will self-report on what kindness we did that day. Opportunities are all around us – from the person in the grocery store putting back items they can’t pay for to the person in the parking lot who’s car won’t start. Anyway, thanks for the lovely story and the reminder to be on the lookout for opportunities.

  10. Family stories become a large part of our heritage and keep us tethered together. As we mature most of us recognize the importance of keeping connected to family, and maintaining a link for those who don’t yet realize its value.

    My brother has been on a “goodness spree” for years. In his quiet way he helps in a myriad of ways, the poor, the old, the young, the disabled or just the random friend or stranger. He is not wealthy but he is rich in goodness. His wife has the same trait and together they are an awesome couple. Uncle Claude seems to have been cut from the same cloth and it is great you have kept his memory alive!

  11. This is why I treasure your blog, AM, going on a goodness spree, and a reader who has a habit of self reporting in the evening of good deeds done. I find that a cheerful word in the grocery line, a smile as I go to the car, a thank you to someone who holds the door, all add up I hope to spreading peace. Kinda like spreading butter, too much is messy, too little gets lost, a smooth spread is just right.

  12. I just found your blog and so enjoyed reading it I have to say your “how did this happen” is wonderful —

  13. I love this story! Needed to read it today too. Today marks one year since Pam-Maw, Hubs’ grandma passed away. We have to drive right by her house everyday to get home and the boys still yell hi to her as we drive by. Glad they haven’t forgotten!

  14. Aw, what a sweetie! We tell our little hearts about loved ones, and they are especially enamored of my beloved Gramma. H asked me yesterday when God was going to bring her back, and I realized that he already did, thru their sweet ways – they just take my breath away…loving almost-6. Happy New Year to you and yours!

  15. Loved this post. What a good idea for passing on what’s really valuable to the next generation. It gave me a “Bing!” moment, thinking about my little guy.
    All that aside… favourite line: “He was last seen driving a 1977 Ranchero.” Love it.

  16. That is so precious!

    I bet your son will end up requesting stories about Uncle Claude. I tell my kids tons of family stories–good and bad–and they crave it.

    I think family stories root them in who they are. And I don’t think we have to shy away from the bad ones (as long as we tell them in age appropriate ways), because then our main story is one of redemption by God.

    But when the girls were little and going to bed, they would always say something like: “tell me about that time Nana…” or “tell me about Grandma…” They wanted to hear them again and again. And now they know them so well they’ll eventually pass them on to their own children!

    Visit To Love, Honor and Vacuum today!

  17. I love it! You’re right! Let’s just imagine what our world would be like if we were privvy to that kind of media exposure!
    It would be uplifting!

    God bless you for sharing about your Uncle Claude!

  18. We spend countless hours relaying stories of those gone before us to our kids. We think they aren’t listening at times, but I know they are when I hear them playing a “game” and here the name of a family memeber they have never met. Keep telling about Uncle Claude and Sean will continue to grow into such a wonderful man. And will probably be a little like Uncle Claude!

  19. I’m so glad you keep your family history alive by repeating stories of family members. This has been very important to us as a family. The kids get kind of tired of our stories sometimes, but then other times they beg for the story about how Grandpa Travis got bitten by a rabid dog, or how Aunt Torchy wore orange gloves with her lingerie, or how my granddaddy “rocked” his babies to sleep by hauling them on the back of his cultivator in a little wooden box. Some of our stories are sort of horrifying, some are hilarious, but all of them keep alive the memories of loved ones who have gone before us.

  20. Family stories enrich us all. I treasure the stories my parents have told me about my ancestors and I enjoy passing these down to my own kids. I find they are fascinated with the smallest details and they remember a surprising amount.

    Uncle Claude sounds like my Great Grandma Kate. Tales of unobtrusive good deeds and thoughtfulness. I wish I had known her.

  21. Love this story!
    I grew up loving to hear family stories over and over again — stories of family members I never knew all the way down to stories of my siblings and me. I know that when I was six I absorbed those stories like a sponge. If Sean hasn’t starting really getting them yet, he soon will.

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