One of the more precious sights you’ll see around the hometown is a fine family sitting together on a Sunday morning all clean and shined up and with the children, if any, behaving, at least reasonably.
I’ll see grandparents gleefully holding grandbabies that they haven’t seen in, well, two or three days. A kid will come running up and grinning with their coloring from Sunday school. A doting parent will reach over and adjust a teen’s upturned collar.
Reports of the demise of the family, to borrow a famous line from Mark Twain, have been greatly exaggerated.
So it caught my eye to read that adult Americans typically live only 18 miles from their mothers.
Put away the notion of free-spirited young people who can’t wait to flee their cramped little hometowns and try their wings in the big city or elsewhere in a bigger world. (I was guilty.)
A study out of the University of Michigan asserts that our families are more close-knit than I and others had thought. Only 20 percent of young adults, in fact, live more than a couple hours’ drive from their folks.
I find that heartening. Despite all of the assaults on the family — the foundation of our society — the ties that bind remain strong.
“Most adults … do not venture far from their hometowns,” was how “The New York Times” described it.
Families remain close, at least physically, in the South in particular, the study noted. That did not surprise me. But that’s also the case in the Northeast, something I did not expect.
I can offer this example. I know a family from here in which a son in the military out West married there and then followed his wife to her hometown in Arizona. It took some years but eventually his little brother also moved his family there and finally the parents moved. They’re there today.
Family ties were stronger than ties to the hometown.
Social scientists say a slow economy and expensive child care tend to cause young adults to stay close to their parents and to lean on them for financial and/or family support.
I don’t buy it. After school friends come and go, after jobs and even houses come and go, the folks, if they are still living, remain. Normally the folks provide open arms even after all others close. Young adults turn to family because the family remains, most times.
Blood’s thicker than water. The more times I’ve been around the block, the more I believe it.
So I tried a little experiment. On a Sunday morning a month ago I tried sitting in a back corner where I could survey most everybody. We have about 300 on a Sunday morning.
I ask the preacher’s forgiveness as I divided my attention that morning between him and the families in front of me.
Some pew benches were filled by just one family. Though some contended with wiggling young ones, their pride was evident in spite of the distraction.
And then there were the singles. The widows, widowers and those with family off in other parts. They held their heads high as they quietly sat, but there was a touch of melancholy. I bet they were missing someone(s).
And then outdoors there was a 2- or 3-year-old hanging precariously in his mother’s arms. The young one turned and peeked over her shoulder and waved and yelled a big “bye” to his grandparents at the other end of the parking lot. I could see their smiles light up all the way from the far end.
The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.