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The sun will come up, tomorrow

What a week! I saw the sun rise in four different states.

The first was in New Orleans from the window in my room on the 38th floor of the hotel. The mighty Mississippi River wound its way through downtown, and I could see the early morning barge traffic as the sun came up. The gray mist hanging over the city was pierced by the reflections of the sun off other high rise glass buildings.

Later in the week, I saw the sun rise over Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale, Ariz. It was my second trip to this same city in the past month, but I stayed on opposite sides of the mountain. It was amazing at how the sun reflected differently both at sunrise and sunset just from staying a few miles apart on my two trips.

Seaside, Fla., was my third location. What a delightful place this can be. The sun lights up the beautiful emerald water and the sugary white sand as it breaks in the east. Later, the sky was a brilliant red as the sun slipped below the Gulf of Mexico.

Finally, I saw the sun come up, as I have for many years, in my hometown here in Southwest Georgia. I don’t have a spot to see its brilliance on the horizon from my home, but it slowly lights up the world outside of the window, giving me notice that another day is about to begin.

It was unusually cold everywhere I went. In New Orleans, walking just three blocks to a restaurant in the French Quarter, I wondered how the homeless people I saw would make it through the night. In Scottsdale, it was 25 degrees below average and the blooming flowers were covered with sheets to protect them from the desert cold.

The Phoenix Open, part of the reason I was in Arizona, started four hours late due to a frost delay. Since cell phones aren’t allowed into the tournament area, delays of that magnitude can cause massive traffic delays. No one can coordinate their transportation changes without their phone. How dependent we have become.

My flight returning from Phoenix to Panama City was canceled in Atlanta after the plane was already fully loaded. Desperate to get to Seaside for a family gathering, I rented a car one way. Hertz should be ashamed that the charge of a car was significantly more than the plane ticket. I guess they had me where they wanted me.

However, no matter the troubles and aggravation of this particular trip, I was rewarded over and over by a beautiful sunrise. Granted, part of the reason I was up so early was the time changes and meetings, but it was still grand. It was somehow comforting to me that though I was alone and far away from home that same sun was following me around. It lends consistency to our everyday life.

When my girls’ were small we watched the movie, “Annie,” often enough that I pretty much memorized the songs, including my favorite: “The Sun will Come Up, Tomorrow.” No matter how lousy the weather or how difficult the trip, the sun does indeed manage to come up tomorrow.

Sometimes our family provides that same kind of consistency in our lives. We were in Seaside to celebrate the 30th birthday of my oldest daughter, Catherine. Though I had to drive 300 miles in heavy rain in an overpriced rental car, it was a grand occasion.

The house we rented seemed like it was built with our extended family in mind. Though it was cold and raining the first day, there was enough room for the children to play. There was a television in every room, with books and games everywhere. Despite the cold and windy weather, the house was toasty with the warmth of the family gathered inside.

Henry chased seagulls on the beach until a wave finally caught him. This being his first trip to the beach, he was blown away by the surf and the dunes. Laura also enjoyed the sand for the first time, though she was dressed up more like an Eskimo to combat the cold.

We took a limousine to Destin where the grandchildren were real troopers enduring a two-hour dinner in a stuffy steakhouse. Of course, the rest of us were thoroughly enjoying ourselves.

Finally, on Sunday morning, the sun came up again. The many colors of the cottages in Seaside were awash with the light of the morning. A breakfast at the Donut Hole was a great ending to a great weekend.

Driving home I was thinking that in many ways our family is similar to the sun. Like the sun, our family is a constant in our lives. No matter where I am, I seem to know that my children are there with me.

Thirty years ago, Catherine brought a light into our lives. Less than two years later, her sister, Elizabeth, brightened that light even more. Since then, they have been the sun around which our family’s universe revolved. They have given me comfort when I am alone and a sense of being when I am away.

Their husbands and then their children have expanded that joy. I know that even though I celebrate their birthdays, it is I that received the gift.

I look at the stars to occasionally remember my father. I look at the sun to know that I have a home and that someone I love is there seeing the same sunrise waiting for me.

I look in my heart to feel the warmth and joy of my two children, knowing that we are a part of each other. I can hear their young voices from a generation ago reminding me that no matter where we are or what we are doing that indeed, “The Sun will Come Up, Tomorrow.”

Happy Birthday, Catherine. I Love You, Daddy.