A local progressive once argued that tax rates weren’t driving out Rhode Islanders, because my mother-in-law was nearby to watch my children during the workday.
Obviously, I’m exaggerating a bit; her argument wasn’t as convoluted as that. What she was saying was that people don’t up and leave an area over taxes, because there’s so much more to life… and a person’s life in a particular area. That’s inarguable, and there may be no finer evidence than Arline Griffiths.
It wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that Arline was the source of the gravity that kept my wife and I in Rhode Island. She wanted her daughter close, and her daughter wanted to be close. Child care is one thing, but what’s the value of holidays with three generations tripping over each other in a too-small ranch — two grandparents, three brothers and a sister (plus wives and husband), and eleven grandchildren (and don’t forget at least a few of the family pets)? What’s the value of a son-in-law nearby when the freezer is jambed and won’t close? What’s the value of grandparents near enough to come over in the middle of the night to keep an eye on two sleeping children when the third decides to enter the world in the middle of the night?
What’s the value of a room packed with family, filling the air with recollections of your life during its last twenty-four hours?
A state — a world — is poorer when such things are rare, and from a negative perspective they became one person rarer, this week. From another perspective, the one that I prefer, Arline spent her life doing the heroic work of convincing her family, at least, to keep those values alive and keep them growing, ensuring that their particular neighborhood of the world remained a home, not just a place to live.
After such a life, God knows, a rest is much needed and peace much deserved.