The Belle of Louisville
Have you ever heard: “I don’t know how those children come from the same family”? Bill Oglesby taught me in seminary, “A second child doesn’t come from ‘the same family’, because there was only one child at first.”
One of the many differences with my older brother (besides eight years) was that while I would grow to love dancing, my brother would revel in it. In 2001, Jackson Browne’s “For a Dancer” was chosen by him as the final words and music of his funeral service. In 1964, when a fifteen year old Baylor Landrum, III was invited to a senior dance on the Belle of Louisville, he couldn’t resist it even though Baylor Landrum, Jr. forbid him to go.
When my baby sitter called dad at a cocktail party to say, “Baylor just snuck into a car with several kids,” mom joined him to fetch Baylor at the Belle. She stayed in the car at the downtown dock, while dad told the riverboat’s gatekeeper, “I’m going on board to get my son; I’ll be right back; you can’t leave until we return.” Turns out dad had as little control over the Belle as my brother. The boat left with both Baylors aboard.
During the paddle wheel steamboat’s two hour cruise, my father endured loud music from an obnoxious wannabe rock band, my brother received lightning bolt stares daring him to have a good time dancing, and my mother was abandoned in a sweltering summer car “down by the river.” I would not hear that story until 20 years later, because none of the parties involved could even talk about it until the emotional statute of limitations ran out.
While that’s not really my story, I just can’t resist telling it, and it sets the stage for things to come. I do think it has something to say about families that is part of all our stories. The first lesson in “Parenting the Love and Logic Way” is: “There are no guarantees in parenting.”
This story also has a lot to say about control when many of us feel so out of control these days. As Suzanne Stabile teaches in the wisdom of the Enneagram, “control is an illusion fueled by emotion.” I can’t control circumstances, I can’t control someone else, I can’t control how I see the world, but I can learn to be more responsive than reactive to what I can begin to control — myself.
What stories rise up for you today? How have you been frustrated by a lack of control? How have you sought to share control? What are you learning about yourself and your relationship with God and other people?