AMERICAN COMING HOME
by Timothy Rollins, Editor and Publisher
July 4, 2003
It has often been said that all good things must come to an end - and to a large extent, I have often disagreed. For as a man of faith, I've long believed the greatest gifts of our Creator - family and friends - often referred to as the family we choose for ourselves, as well as those places and events that mark the paths of our lives are gifts that not only last a lifetime, but are blessings we carry with us into eternity.
As a child, moving from place to place was a way of life for my family, and having never lived in the same area for more than two years was something I had come to expect as just the way of 'doing business' as part of my growing up. After childhood, there was military service and college, followed by work in the private sector for a few years and a return to the military for some years thereafter. It wasn't until 1993 at age 34 that I settled in one place for more than just a year or two.
For the last ten years, I've had the pleasure of living in Oshawa, Ontario. Located some 35 miles east of Toronto, Oshawa is best known as a GM town. But more than that, it's been my home and in that time, I've had the pleasure of building a number of particularly close friendships with people who could only be described as choice - a clear cut well above average.
T.J. (my youngest, right) was born in Oshawa in 1996, and it was in Oshawa where my involvement with freelance writing began - and for this, I thank in particular a friend and colleague by the name of Mark Vanderkooi who was kind enough to thank me for an article I wrote in April 1998 called "On My Honor" that detailed a 9-0 decision by the California Supremes that upheld the right of the Boy Scouts to exclude gays and atheists. His encouragement (among others) was pivotal to keep me writing to the point that I am now Editor of The American Partisan, something that has been both a learning experience as well as a labor of love.
Perhaps most importantly in my time here has been the wisdom gained in a forced reflection on my part as to what caused my marriage to fail in 1999 when it did and to what extent my behavior played in that. What did I do wrong and how could I avoid a repeat through making and effecting meaningful and permanent change in my life? In what ways can I be a better person - not only for whomever I marry, but also for my children and others wherever and however I meet them in whatever capacity that makes itself available? These were not only good questions, but also vital in determining not only the here and now, but also the course of the rest of my life. While the wisdom gained took time to acquire, it was indeed time well spent, and those who helped me along that way will forever be remembered as priceless treasures in the annals of my life.
To that end, special thanks go to the following - among others: Mike and Sandra, Steve and Heather, George, Stuart, Stuart's son Gavin and daughter-in-law Karen, Rob Verdonk M.D. - who's not only one of my best friends, but also my doctor, Tony, Kevin and Donna, Ken Nickelchok, Don and Diana, Todd, LuAnn Scott (left) and her brother Bryan Case - best friends of over 30 years from childhood, Randall Greene (right) - also another of my best friends and whom I served as one his best men when he married 20 years ago, Mike and Pam, Chris and Heidi, Stuart, Nick, Terri, Ann and Alfie, Melanie, Jennifer and her daughter Cally, Alberto and Brenda and especially a treasured friend who called me out of the blue back in May from California - Tom Murray, who used to be my bishop when I lived out there nearly 20 years ago. Now approaching 80, to know of his love and concern for me - even now, still touches my heart in ways that cannot even begin to be expressed in the written word, so I'll just leave it at that.
For some time now, I've sensed that while I've fought the necessary battles both in and out of court to ensure my son's best interests have been protected both as a rule of law - and more importantly as a daddy looking out for his little boy, it has also been impressed upon me that the time is fast approaching for me to wrap things up and to bring my Canadian experience - however treasured - to a close. Events of the last four months, and especially so over the last ten weeks, both from a legal as well as a personal perspective, have left me with this impression all the more so. Nowhere was this made more clearly than at a church activity back in May where many longtime friends surrounded me and the experience was one in which I felt at peace and surrounded in the spirit of love and acceptance, despite my many flaws and personal limitations. I had made these friends over the many years I have lived in Oshawa and felt a sense of closure beginning to take shape. Unlike other times where I would have actively sought to fight it, I felt a sense of peace in this particular instance, that this was the right thing to do, as the time has now come to move on.
In reflecting on all this, I am reminded of the words of Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who in a November 27, 1979 speech at Brigham Young University entitled "Patience", suggested that while we may be ready to move on having had enough of a particular life's experience, our continuing presence is often needed as a part of the learning experience of others. I cannot help but think that such may have been the case here. More than once, I remember having a conversation with a friend of mine in his New York office and his mentioning to me to come back to the States, and my replying that the time had not as yet come, but that when it came, I'd be back.
So as others have stayed on to assist in my development for a while after their time to remain had passed and I in some of theirs, so now has the time come for me to return to the land of my birth - the United States of America. Just as my Canadian time has been very beneficial and well-spent in so many respects - to include one of my greatest treasures - my son T.J. - the time has come for me to return for a host of reasons as well as to get more into the political fight from a greater standpoint than I've been able to from a distance up here.
What I am about to say here will invite a variety of comment, and some may think what they wish. If that's the case, then so be it as I speak from deep conviction, regardless of what others may think. As put so eloquently by a friend in Delaware some years ago, mine is not a life to lived but rather a destiny to be fulfilled and that time has come - for both my son and myself. As such, I must now act - both in my own best interests and more importantly, T.J.'s. I have not only a duty, but also an obligation to ensure that said responsibilities are fulfilled to the best of my ability. I did not seek this by any means; I would personally prefer to live a life of quiet anonymity; however, such will not be the case here and like all of us, it is up to me to make the most with what I've been given. Where much has been given, much is required, and in my case, that time to give back is now.
So while one door in my life closes, another opens and in the words of Elder Howard W. Hunter - also of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and who later went on to become President of the Church, so beautifully expressed, "Doors close regularly in our lives, and some of those closings cause genuine pain and heartache. But I do believe that where one such door closes, another opens (and perhaps more than one), with hope and blessings in other areas of our lives that we might not have discovered otherwise." Continuing, he added: "We are not always wise enough nor experienced enough to judge adequately all of the possible entries and exits. The mansion that God prepares for each of his beloved children may have only certain hallways and banisters, special carpets and curtains that he would have us pass on our way to possess it." (ENSIGN, November 1987, p. 54)
So it has now become in my life and that of my little boy. One door is swinging shut, and another opens before us; and with that, will be new avenues and opportunities for the two of us to experience growth and learning in ways neither of us fully know at present. However, that is all right, for in this life we walk by faith; for we have been taught and have come to know that this mortal life is the time to prepare to meet God, and again - in the words of Elder Maxwell, we are not here to be tested, but rather to be proven in all things herewith. As I stated in an unpublished article written in March of this year, submission to the will of the Lord is not easy - especially if one has their mind set on something that may not always be in their best interests. However, it is always worth it, as anyone who has been through the experience will gladly testify.
With this column comes the end of an era for my remote operation from Canada and the proper return of TAP to U.S. soil where it belongs. It will be easier to keep in touch with my staff - most notably my fellow editors - Jennifer King, Bob Yoho, James Hall, Carol Devine-Molin and Rachel Alexander, as well as my webmaster Lori Cutshall and the many talented writers who make this magazine the increasing presence and success story it is becoming online and eventually, we hope offline as well.
My time for coming home has arrived - even though in many ways, I never really left. Just ask my Canadian friends. Even though I am leaving Canada, part of me will forever remain there as well, for just as Hemingway felt about Paris, I too, feel that Canada - and especially Oshawa will forever remain with me as well, for Oshawa truly has been a moveable feast.
As always, it is gifts such as these that are the only ones truly worth giving.
More than that however, they are the ones that last forever and which time cannot
© 2003 Timothy Rollins
© 2003 BY THE AMERICAN PARTISAN.
All writers retain rights to their work.