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The Parent Trap

People should stay close to home where they belong, particularly when those people are my kids.
An illustration of Gulley reaching out to Parent Trap his kiddos

Illustration by Ryan Snook

IF MY LIFE goes as planned (something it rarely does), my wife and I will have just returned from Alaska when this magazine hits newsstands. I have avoided Alaska for 61 years, there being no compelling reason to go there. But now my younger son, Sam, and his wife, Kelsea, are residents of that remote and perilous state, and they requested our presence before the arrival of their first child, a boy yet unnamed. For four generations, our branch of the Gulleys was content to live in Indiana. Then I foolishly told my sons they could become whatever they put their minds to, and now one of them has put his mind to living in Alaska and keeping my first and only grandson there, instead of in Indiana with his grandparents where God intended him to live.

I blame this diaspora on the wheel, first invented in Mesopotamia some 6,000 years ago, making possible the relocation of our child and grandson. I’m sure the wheel seemed like a good idea at the time, but it’s obvious the implications of its creation hadn’t been thoroughly considered. Namely, that it would transport those we love far away. Wanting them closer, I offered our son and his wife our house for free if they moved to Danville. But they declined our offer, saying they wanted to make it on their own. It’s a sad day in America when kids can’t be bribed to live under their parents’ control.

I have a friend who got his children to move back to Indiana by having a heart attack. It was the perfect heart attack, just bad enough to get his children home, but not so bad he’s crippled for life. In fact, he has fully recovered and walks miles a day, except when his children are with him. Then he limps and grimaces and clutches his chest. I would happily fake a debilitating ailment if it meant having my children nearby.

Nothing good has ever come from people leaving home, especially if they’re white. Some 500 years ago, white Europeans had the bright idea to leave home in search of wealth. They came here—a land already cheerfully settled by indigenous natives—and through disease and malice, killed most of them. What ones they didn’t kill, they herded onto desolate slivers
of land no one else wanted. As if that weren’t bad enough, the same Europeans sailed to Africa, where they forced some 12 million people to leave their homes and come here to work for free in horrific conditions, beginning a chain of abuses that continues to this day. If white people had stayed home where they belonged, everyone would have been happier. I bet the Egyptians wouldn’t have invented the sail 5,500 years ago if they had known what white people were going to do with it.

While I believe everyone should just stay home where they belong, don’t think for a moment I’m one of those morons who believes people of different races shouldn’t mix, mingle, and marry. I’m all for that, since marrying one another might eventually rid us of the racial animus that plagues humankind. Plus, my family could use a little color. I took a DNA test this past winter and discovered I was the whitest person in the United States. It’s as if my family invented white. But better times are ahead. I have a Black brother-in-law, a Black nephew, a Hispanic niece, and several Filipino nieces and nephews. It appears the Gulleys have a colorful future.

Just to repeat, my issue isn’t with intermarriage, which I support. It’s with our children moving to Alaska and taking our grandchildren with them. What’s so great about Alaska? It’s bitterly cold 11 months of the year. Then in the one month of summer when the sun never sets, it’s obscured by dense clouds of mosquitoes and flies. We purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867 for 2 cents an acre, even though it wasn’t theirs to sell. Are you starting to notice a pattern? Anyway, here’s my idea. Nothing good ever came out of dealing with the Russians. Just ask the Ukrainians. So let’s give Alaska back to the Inuits, who will kick out all the white people, so my son, his wife, and my yet-unnamed grandson can come home to Indiana where they belong. 

Philip Gulley is a Quaker pastor, author, and humorist. "Back Home Again" chronicles his views on life in Indiana.

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