“A Day for Good News,” Oct. 10, 2017

For weeks, the news had been filled with stories of death and devastation, hurricanes in Texas and Florida and Puerto Rico, and earthquakes in Mexico. I was hungry for a taste of good news.

So on Sunday, Oct. 1, I phoned my brother in South Carolina, to hear him brag about Clemson’s latest victory. Joe is totally blind and totally devoted to Clemson football. He told me all about Clemson’s win the previous day over Viginia Tech, how well they’d played and how proud he was of them. He’d have said all that even if they lost, but he’s a bit more enthusiastic after a win.

I congratulated him and promised to call again soon. Five minutes later, he called back and left a message: “Sister, I forgot to tell you, we had a drive-by shooting here recently. I was sitting in my kitchen when I heard the shots — Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Thank the Lord nobody was hurt and I wasn’t out on my porch. There’s a lot of mean people in the world and it just keeps getting meaner. I love you. Talk to you later.”

I called him back and left a message to say there are also a lot of good people in the world — far more good than bad — but it might be best if he didn’t sit out on his porch for a while.

That evening, my husband and I turned on the TV to watch the premiere of “Ten Days in the Valley.” The cast included my favorite actor, who’s also my son, and I didn’t want to miss it. But it was interrupted by a news bulletin, the kind that makes you hold your breath and pray.

That’s how we learned about the mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip, 15 miles from our home. One person opened fire on a festival crowd of 22,000, killing 58 people, and injuring almost 500 others. We watched the coverage, the stories of horror and heroism; ordinary people who risked their lives to help strangers or shield bodies of loved ones with their own; and police officers who came pouring in to try to stop the carnage.

Those stories continued in days to come, a steady stream of information and repetition that clutched at our hearts and haunted our dreams, but could not answer the one question we all kept asking: Why?

Three days after the massacre, my husband and I packed up the car and drove 500 miles to our former home on the coast of California. We needed to see our children and grandchildren.

Saturday was the day for Pacific Grove’s Butterfly Parade, an annual event when the town’s children dress in costumes and parade through the streets to welcome back thousands of migrating monarch butterflies.

My three children all marched in those parades over the years. This time, it was my grandson Randy’s turn. Randy is 7. He has red curls, hazel eyes and a smile that’s minus a few front teeth.

I stood on the curb with throngs of other grandparents and parents, all cheering and waving and snapping photos as the children paraded by. The kindergarteners, as always, were the monarchs with orange and black wings. Other classes were sea otters, crabs, jellyfish and other fancy stuff.

Randy and his classmates were flowers, a garden in full bloom. When he spotted me, he jumped up and down, shouting “Nana!” and nearly lost his petals.

It was worth driving 500 miles just for that. And to feel my eyes fill with tears at the glorious sight of police cars decorated with butterfly wings. And to look into faces much like mine that were weary of bad news and glad for a reason to smile.

I wish you could’ve seen us.

Sometimes, when the news is a bit too much to bear, it helps to spend time with people you love and remember what is easily forgotten: The world is a good place with a lot of good people –far more good than bad.

I can’t wait to tell my brother about that parade.


  1. Cyndi Gist says

    The one thing that gives me the most hope for our nation is the American people. I noticed on vacation this summer at Gulf Shores how easy it was for strangers to come together without discourse. While I am sure many of the people I met did not share my political leanings, it still didn’t prevent us from chatting happily waiting in line for dinner or sharing a find with another tourist. Coming back, I made it my goal to improve our country with little gestures of kindness where ever I go. A kind word and smile costs nothing but may be very meaningful to someone having a bad day. I think the key to keeping the faith is to get out and see real Americans celebrating this great nation. We just had our famous Fall Festival here in Evansville. The streets were filled with people eating and greeting friends new and old. While the media may say we are more divided than ever, it doesn’t seem like it when Americans come together to celebrate.

  2. Chris Evans says

    I simply love your message about seeking the good and finding powerful images of peace such the police cars with butterfly wings. Thank you.
    Chris Evans
    Pound, VA

  3. Kate Sciacca says

    On Monday the 2nd we awoke to the news of the Las Vegas massacre. On Monday the 9th we awoke to the news that many friends had lost homes and property to fire in Napa and Sonoma… I plan to avoid the news this Monday… unless it’s # 2 son calling to say his #4 is on the way and Grandma needs to “fly over the hill” to watch the other three… that’s the only news I want to hear.
    May Our Blessed Lord be with you yours ?

  4. suelllen mccall says

    I enjoy reading your stories every week. We have a lot in common. My family is from the deep south. My first husband and I were married in Pacific Grove. The church is no longer there (Methodist) I was used in a wedding scene for the movie A Summer Place, which was set on the east coast.
    I live near Salado now and didn’t get to see you due to the rains we had that week.
    I have also been to Vegas a few times.
    Keep up the good work.

  5. Thank you for writing another wonderful story

  6. judy whiteheart says

    thank you for my smiles tonight ! You (and your brother ) always lift my heart!

  7. Donna Glembin says

    Thanks, this made me smile. A dear friend of mine died today from ALS and I was in need of a bit of cheering up.

  8. Betty McNall says

    That would be a parade to see! Besides the Funtime with family! Have a wonderful week!

  9. So very true! Lots if good apples along with the rotten ones!

  10. This made me smile! Sometimes this old world seems so sad & chaotic, I too have to shut down & walk away for a while. Nothing like a little grandkid time to take your mind off your troubles.
    And your flower grandchild sounds precious! You need to share pictures! ?

  11. Cathy Followell says

    Thank you!

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