Esther Ford

Esther Ford

I have been in a state of grief lately. It took me a while to identify my feelings, but the word “grief” comes closest to naming my condition.

Having been a counselor for 25 years, I knew that it is not uncommon, especially among older adults. We reach a point when we experience so many losses: loss of children (empty nest), loss of parents and older relatives and friends and loss of physical abilities. But I think that my recent sense of grief is due to the loss of my country, at least the country I knew in my youth.

When I was 14 years old, I entered an essay contest sponsored by the San Antonio Oddfellows Lodge. Students from freshman to junior years in high school could enter. We had to write an essay on “What the United Nations Means to Me.” The winner would win a bus trip, along with all the other state winners, to Washington, D.C., and New York City to visit the United Nations.

I entered on a whim and, lo and behold, I won. It was the experience of a lifetime for a teenager who had never been out of state. Along the way, we would stop at various Oddfellow Lodges, where they would treat us to a potluck dinner. We always began with the pledge and singing the national anthem. Oh, how proud I was to experience the kindness and patriotism of the various lodges in Arkansas, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, etc. I was amazed at the beauty of our country and the beauty of the people I met: the other winners, our chaperones, our guides. I learned so much, and I came back convinced that I lived in the greatest country on Earth.

It hasn’t felt that way for the past two years or so. As the daughter of a naturalized citizen from Mexico, I have watched in sadness to see other immigrants treated inhumanely. I see people using the flag and religion to bludgeon others into believing as we ourselves believe. Instead of kindness, I feel an atmosphere of distrust and hatred on the political stage.

Lately, though, I have begun to feel a sense of hope that I may still get my old America back. After all, I have lived through two impeachment investigations, one of which resulted in resignation. After each one, there was a sense of at least having uncovered facts and trying to establish the truth as much as possible. It reinforced that there was a judicial system in place that could help restore our equilibrium. Not everyone was happy in the end, but at least it brought a sense of relief and the feeling that there was some justice that had been restored once again.

I pray that we will have the willingness to allow the system to work as it should. No one knows the whole truth, but we should still keep open minds and allow the people we elected to try to get to the truth. I want to get the feeling that the system that was established in the Constitution can work.

Most of all, I want the 14-year-old children of today to feel that same pride I felt in my country in the late 1950s. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life grieving for that country that I loved and that I somehow lost along the way.

Esther Ford is a retired teacher and counselor who moved to Victoria with her husband, Jim, from the Austin area twelve years ago after they both retired. The mother of three and grandmother of seven, she is now active as a volunteer with several organizations and is an avid reader.

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(11) comments

Daniel Martin

Thank you for a thoughtful letter. You touched on something that is potentially one of the greatest dangers to Americans way of life. Our generation grew and matured with a foundation of truth, honesty, integrity and a clear eyed vision of the difference between right and wrong. We walked proudly into the 21st century with the tools of science, respect of others beliefs and a US Constitution.

Our forefathers were men of great vision and intellect and common sense. They created a brilliant document of governance that was not static but evergreen. They had seen the changes in mankind shown in history realizing the need to have the ability to evolve with the future.

Ignorance is beast that some will feed upon the very soul of Freedom, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Willful ignorance will consume our children's future.

We must not allow this tragedy. We can and must demand the laws of our nation be upheld. We are a nation of laws and no one is above the law.

Esther Ford

Well said, Daniel! It is persons like you that are the reason for my hopefulness.

I hear you Ester,to ignore is akin to condoning what’s going on. Your article is a good first step, there are many who agree with your sentiments. We can challenge the myths,lies and conspiracy theories. Great article

Glenn Wilson

"to ignore is akin to condoning what’s going on." -- Only if you can actually do something to change what's going on. If you can, then do so. If you can't, then why not ignore it and concentrate on the better things in one's life? In Esther's case, "I don’t want to spend the rest of my life grieving for that country that I loved and that I somehow lost along the way" would be a very depressing and useless way to pass her days when she has much better things on which to lavish her attention.

Esther Ford

Thank you, Mike and Glenn, for your comments. Yes, Glenn, I did say "I don't want to spend the rest of my life grieving for [my] country … " but the point is that I am hoping that I won't have to. Perhaps if we can bring awareness of the things that concern us (as we are doing now) and keep open minds, we can each do our part, no matter how small, to bring about the change we want.

Glenn Wilson

Esther -- Yes, that would be a far happier and more useful strategy than grieving or hoping.

Glenn Wilson

Actually Esther, my advice was, "enjoy the grandchildren and all the other good stuff in your life, and ignore the not-so-good stuff that you can't change". If you do that, especially the ignore part, you won't have to get used to anything you don't want to. Take care.

Glenn Wilson

"I don’t want to spend the rest of my life grieving for that country that I loved and that I somehow lost along the way." -- Then don't. It's entirely in your control. It's often very upsetting when people realize their present world isn't the same as it was when they were growing up. Every generation has to experience that because life and the world are dynamic, not static. Enjoy the people and things in your life as much as you can, work to make things as you like them, ignore the rest and move on. Today's reality is this generation's "normal", and they'll miss it when they've grown older as much as you miss your "normal".

Esther Ford

You may be right. I hope so. But somehow I doubt that my grandchildren will miss having been frightened and going through active shooter drills in school when they grow up -- if they get to grow up.

Glenn Wilson

Are you sure that it's not you that's frightened rather than your grandchildren? When we had A-bomb drills in school back in the 1950's it was the adults that were freaked out, not the kids, and that's become part of the wonderful past that we may feel we've lost. In the meantime, enjoy the grandchildren and all the other good stuff in your life, and ignore the not-so-good stuff that you can't change.

Esther Ford

I will give much consideration to your advice to get used to the new "normal."

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