A couple of years ago I was privileged to be Facebook friended by my cousin Ralph's daughter. Her name is Tammy Jameson Fouch. I have met her one time but have come to know her through her thoughtful, endearing and inspiring posts on Facebook. So, I might easily be accused of over-reach in saying how much I admire her and her lovely family...and to attest that, if America is ever to reclaim our past glory, she'll have to have alot more families like Tammy's.
The definition of "matriarch" is "a woman who rules her family for a generation or more". Now, there are no hard and fast rules on "ruling"...it may be with an iron hand, through fear, or it may be with a velvet glove, through love. In Tammy's case it is pure love.
Now, I'm not saying her husband Kenny is not an equal partner in the family decisions. I believe he is...any successful marriage requires a healthy give and take..and compromise. No, Tammy's matriarchal strength seems not to lie in "bossing people" but in loving them to an extent that the only rational decision a family member can make is to do what pleases and makes mom and wife proud. One does not attain that level of influence by "preaching"...but by setting an example for excellence that, not to achieve it, might disappoint her....or fail to live up to her own high expectations of your efforts. My mom had that quality and she could inspire me just by the way she conducted herself in good times and in bad.
Now, one look at Tammy's family and all you see are a handsome husband and beautiful kids...beautiful inside and out it would seem, still capable of blushing red at a complement or in shame with something they shouldn't have done. They say that the capability to blush indicates a conscience in good repair. But good looks do not mean virtue, else we would all turn to Hollywood for our "wholesome" fix. It is the way Tammy and her family live their lives that are so worthy of emulation.
Through the vicarious visuals of Facebook, we see the Fouch family out to school football games, community rodeos, hay rides, pumpkin picking, fishing and camping at the lake, all events immortalized in the enduring Facebook posts that note and reflect the joy of a family outing. Even a night out for fast food is worthy of pics of smiling faces, shining with joy.
And, lest one think, this family devotes themselves solely with familial fun, one need only turn to the pics and postings of the family serving meals at a Ronald McDonald House, to families who have sick children in the hospital. The family is active in their church and take great pride in their religion and their church. As someone less enamored of organized religion, I am more impressed that every member of that family never fails to attribute good fortune and happiness to their benevolent God, whether it was simply a restful camp out or the joyful return of the family cat.
Oh, but the charm and loveliness of this family cannot be framed with the antiseptic and unlikely branding as the "perfect family"....no, the charm comes from reading the many postings about the frustrations of daily life; flat tires, cracked windshields, a burned supper, or even the catastrophe of tornadoes leaving a community in ruin. No, the nobility shines in this family by the way they handle both success and failure and the every day trials on daily life.
America, these are the kinds of families America once had in abundance; the honoring of family, of their church, of commitment to the community they live in, of the importance of education, both at home and in school. We need a "re-birthing" of these kind of families. Thanks to the Fouch Matriarch, this family lives joyfully on a sound foundation of love and mutual respect.
I believe it was early on in our "Facebook Friendship" that Tammy touched my heart most deeply. She spoke clearly and honestly about a youthful mistake, the kind that occur in millions of families all the time. But Tammy seemed to stand tall with pride, having admitted her mistake with humility, but prideful that she had worked hard to overcome that mistake and beamed with pride at the results of that transformational experience. I remember "gulping" a little hard, throat constricted and eyes a mist, when reading that wonderful proclamation of a life redeemed.
And now that matriarch of one family, in one small community in Oklahoma shines brightest, and, like a lighthouse on a stormy sea, offers solace and safety to families seeking shelter from a stormy and uncertain world.