Thursday, August 16, 2007

Pearl 12: The Grass on the Other Side of the Fence Isn't Always as Green as it Appears

Dearest Eliana and Gehrig,

Well, it has been almost a week since you left Texas and I miss you both so much.  It was just wonderful having you down to Camp PK for a month and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.  Let’s say we can make this an annual event, what do you think?

You are both so impressive.  Not only are you both just beautiful and perfect but you are SO intelligent.  Eliana, you dig into everything you see and just seem to figure it out.  Gehrig, you don’t miss anything and quietly appreciate all you see.  You both changed so much in your four weeks here, growing and becoming more delightful with every passing day.  It was such a thrill to witness.  Now you are back home and still have your Granny to visit with you.  I hope you are starting to sleep through the night so you can send her back to me not too exhausted. 

One of the things I noticed when you were here, which was so cute, is when you two were close together in the “baby pit” and one of you would pick up a toy, the other would almost always stop playing with whatever toy they had and reach out to grab the other’s toy.  Trust me, this is something which does not change with age.  As human beings we tend to covet what other people have.  So strong is this feeling, God, in his infinite wisdom, thought it was important enough to make it one of His commandments…”Thou shalt not covet…..”   Even so, it is a force which is hard to control and to deny.

When I was in the early years of my business career one of my promotions was to the home office of Owens-Corning Fiberglas in Toledo, Ohio.  Granny and your mom and I moved to the Midwest from California where we owned a nice home in Anaheim Hills, a prestigious Orange County community.  When we were getting ready to move to Ohio we searched for housing all around the Toledo area.  Most of my counterparts at O-C lived in upscale suburban communities like Sylvania, Old Orchard or Ottawa Hills.  We selected the small rural community of Maumee.  We found a modest Ryan-built home on Dussel Drive just down from the Lucas County Recreation Center (where the Toledo Mudhens AA baseball team played).  It was not a fancy home, like some of our friends owned, and our community was considered “blue collar” but it suited our needs and, because it was less expensive, we could even afford to save a little money. 

But there was always this little bit of longing when I saw the larger, more lavish homes of our friends in the “popular” communities, some of them adjacent to country clubs and golf courses.  I had occasional envy for their lifestyle.  You could say that I coveted my neighbors property from time to time.  Which brings me to my twelfth pearl.

Twelfth Pearl:  The Grass On the Other Side of the Fence Isn’t Always As Green As It Appears

We didn’t belong to the Sylvania or Brandywine country clubs.  We didn’t have the prestigious address or live next to major company CEO’s.  We didn’t send your mom or your Aunt Bits to the exclusive private schools like some of our friends did.  We chose, instead, to raise our family in a lovely neighborhood called Floral Valley (nicknamed Fertile Valley by the locals because of all the children who filled the modest homes).  We chose to send our children to public schools. We chose to spend less on housing and forego country club memberships and put as much money into our savings plan as possible for a future of greener pastures.

Did we envy?  Did we occasionally covet?  Did we look across the fence and admire what we thought looked like a greener yard than ours?  Yes, we probably did.  But what did we get in return?   We got a peaceful, safe and wholesome community for our children to grow up in.  We got a good education for them.  We got a place where lasting friendships could be forged and strong Midwestern values instilled.  We got doses of reality reinforced as we watched friends struggle with their inflated house payments and escalating country club dues while our savings continued to grow.  And, after 11 years in this place, we had enough money saved to move to Texas, build a custom home and start a business which provided not only the fulfillment of a life-long dream of ownership but the wherewithal for an advanced education for our children as well as a secure retirement for ourselves.  Whose grass is greener now?

Granny and I have been very blessed in our lifetime.  God has granted us most of our wishes and fulfilled many dreams.  What He taught us was that patience, perseverance and careful planning can ultimately produce the greenest grass….and that coveting what others have is a fool’s game.

I pray that God grant you both the boldness to dream along with the patience and perseverance to achieve those dreams.

I miss you and love you,

Grandpa Jud

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