Finding My Way: Showing Up

Finding My Way: Showing Up

  • 0

I have a grandson who attends college in North Carolina. His mother (my daughter) lives 250 miles away in suburban Washington DC.

My grandson plays on one of the school’s sports teams. He does very well. It’s a good team, regularly challenging for league titles, post-season play, etc.

It’s a four-hour drive, each way, from my daughter’s house to his school. Despite her full time job she has made the drive to watch him play for nearly every home game. This is his senior year, and by the time his collegiate career ends she will probably have driven 15,000 miles just to watch him play.

It isn’t always easy, and it certainly isn’t cheap. If you ask her why she does it you’ll get an utterly blank stare. It’s what families do. Duh.

I’m happy to report that this is a successful family. They’ve had their own versions of the challenges we all face, but they’ve survived, and the bond between them is palpable. Their family rule #1 is simple: they show up for each other.

As our children were growing, my wife and I tried to set the example on this. My own success rate varied through the years, due to the demands of a career in journalism, when newsworthy events happen on their own schedule, not mine. But if I wasn’t there, my wife was, often with many younger children in tow. Keeping them all contained on bleacher seats or soccer sidelines or hushed in quiet school auditoriums was sometimes a challenge, but we did our best.

And time has proved it was one of the best things we did.

I don’t have to tell you that a child’s confidence can be fragile. You were a child once, so you know the drill. If you lose your sense of self-worth as a child it can take decades to confidently find it again. But if you can emerge from childhood buoyed with the awareness that you are loved, and that you are worthy of love, then you are laps ahead in the race to a happy life.

All because people showed up for you, and were happy to do it.

Now forgive me while I change the focus—though, as you’ll see, I won’t be changing the subject.

Recently my wife and I were in a small city in Mexico. We were crossing a street, but, as sometimes happens in border towns, the road was bumpy, with a hole or two in the asphalt.

There was an old woman with a walker who was attempting to cross the street. The walker wasn’t in great shape, and on this hot day the slightly confused woman wasn’t making much progress. The motorists on the street weren’t happy.

I asked her if she needed help with the walker. She didn’t understand me. So my wife took up the conversation in Spanish. Yes, she could use a bit of help. My wife supported her arms, while I helped the walker over the bumps in the road. It was slow-ish work but we got her to the other side. We smiled at each other before separating.

It occurred to me as we walked away that the woman needed help for a moment, and instead of staying locked up in our leave-us-alone world, we actually saw what was going on around us. A bit of kindness was necessary, so we provided it. For that temporarily disoriented woman, we showed up.

I suppose it’s easy—or at least easier—to show up for the people we love, or at least like. But I’m convinced that sometimes God places people in our path who need help just to see what will happen. Will we recognize their need? Will they even register in our deliberately self-insulated worlds? And how many times will we ignore those standing right in front of us before God sadly decides that for now we’re not someone He can count on.

Sure, my wife and I showed up for our children as they were growing. And this wasn’t the first time we showed up for a stranger in need. But how many others have we missed through the years? Dozens? Hundreds?

This worries me.

Chris Huston is an author and award-winning columnist living in the Magic Valley. Connect with Chris on Facebook at Chris Huston-Finding My Way and at


Catch the latest in Opinion

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

Small news organizations in rural states aren’t often on the front line of broad public service journalism, but times are changing and one-or-two person shops can make a lot of difference in public awareness of issues if things come together.

A small outbreak of coronavirus at a Fry Foods plant in Weiser gives a prime example of the importance of testing for COVID-19. More than that, it represents a warning shot across the bow of potential pitfalls if we don’t reopen our economy the right way.

As we tiptoe through Stage 2 of Gov. Brad Little’s phased reopening plan and approach a more robust Stage 3, it’s going to become even more important that we take the necessary steps to prevent future outbreaks.

And there will be future outbreaks.

The fact remains that the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is still out there. It’s ready to strike again, and without a vaccine, it remains a potentially destructive and fatal disease.

Aggressive and quick testing remains one of the key elements — perhaps the most important element — of controlling outbreaks at this point.

Fry Foods offers an early case study.

The Weiser food processing plant employs 260 people to make onion rings and other food products. It shut down earlier this month when at least seven employees tested positive for the coronavirus.

Fry Foods initially didn’t test all 260 employees at the Weiser facility — only the 50 or 60 who likely came in contact with the employees who tested positive. Other employees were able to get tested on their own.

The Idaho Bureau of Laboratories (state run-laboratories) tested all that they had the capacity to do in one day, according to Kelly Petroff, director of communications for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. The state lab can do about has a testing capacity of approximately 200 tests per day.

“We are not prepared to handle this,” Doug Wold, human resources manager for Fry Foods, told the Idaho Statesman, referring to the lack of coordinated response. “If you don’t have an employer who’s willing to be proactive, we’re just going to fail.”

Fortunately, Crush the Curve Idaho, a private, business-led initiative established during the outbreak to increase testing, stepped in and tested every employee at Fry Foods.

By Tuesday of this week, 20 employees — about 8% of the plant’s workforce — had tested positive for the coronavirus, along with at least two of their family members. Nearly all were asymptomatic.


That’s what needs to happen: rapid-response testing. If you have an outbreak at your workplace, get everyone tested. For those who test positive, keep them home and isolated. For those who test negative, they can keep on working and you’re back in business.

When the outbreak hit Fry Foods, company officials made the decision to shut the plant down.

Without adequate testing, that’s unfortunately the right thing to do. Without testing, you have no idea whether you have seven infected employees, 70 or 270.

We applaud Fry Foods company officials for making the tough call to shut down, even though they were given the green light by the Southwest District Health Department to resume operations.

Coronavirus is stealthy. A person can carry coronavirus longer without symptoms, potentially spreading to others unwittingly. Some people who carry coronavirus have no symptoms at all.

We are encouraged that Crush the Curve Idaho stepped up and stepped in here.

But Idaho needs a more concerted and organized plan to do rapid-response testing.

We are a fragmented health system. Health providers include Saint Alphonsus, St. Luke’s, Primary Health, Saltzer, among others. Then think about all the entities who pay for health care: Blue Cross of Idaho, Regence BlueShield, PacificSource, SelectHealth, etc. Throw in Medicare, Medicaid and those who are uninsured.

Even our own government health management system is fragmented, with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and seven independent health districts not operated by the state.

And, in the case of Fry Foods, situated in a city bordering Oregon, workers were from two states.


No wonder Fry Foods officials were at a loss for where to turn for help. Without some sort of coordinated effort to test all employees and somehow pay for those tests, shutting down the plant was the best option.

It’s worth noting that the Fry Foods employee who initially had coronavirus was at a family gathering of a larger number than outlined in the governor’s reopening plan and was with visitors from out of state, two violations of the governor’s guidelines. That’s why we have the guidelines, and that’s why it’s important to follow the guidelines. Otherwise, this is what you get: an outbreak that shuts down an entire food manufacturing plant.

Unfortunately, shutting down operations every time there’s an outbreak is not going to get the job done.

And there will be more outbreaks as we reopen our economy, reopen factories and workplaces.

Idaho has a lot to be optimistic about, and we have a golden opportunity to lead the nation in reopening our economy in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. We have had relatively few cases (around 2,300) and few deaths (77). Our early efforts to shut down parts of our social interactions and Little’s quick call to issue a statewide stay-home order clearly have paid off. Idahoans’ adherence to the stay-home order has helped to flatten the curve and control the number of new cases. Residents and businesses, alike, have done their part to make this happen.

Our hope is that Idaho can chug along through the stages of reopening. Our fear is that if we don’t do this the right way, we’ll have a surge and we’ll be back to a statewide stay-home order. Nobody wants that.

If Joe Biden is counting on African American votes to win the White House in November, he may want to reboot his outreach strategy. During a radio interview Friday morning with Charlamagne tha God on the nationally syndicated, "The Breakfast Club," Biden said that "if you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or Trump, then you ain't black." It took a handful of nanoseconds for the ...

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News