It’s so hard to let go of the children as they grow up. Even if you’re “auntie” and not “Mom” it is still hard. This is a great post.
I love looking at old photographs just as I always loved listening to the stories my late father told me. Thinking about my parents as I look at the tattered pictures that represent a past I know so little about, I can’t help but wonder how my happy and laughing parents, and thus I as well, could come from such somber-faced lineage.
In my Mom’s case there seemed few if any children in the many photographs. Mom even now so late in life finds reasons to giggle. I think perhaps she was just what they needed to break free. In my late father’s family it was quite a different story.
My Dad was my hero. To this day if you ask me I’ll insist that he knew everything and could fix anything from a broken doll to my broken heart and it brings tears to my eyes even now when I realize that he’s not in the next town or the next room with his arms out ready to hug me and “fix it.” He always could.
My Dad didn’t learn those things in school, though, because he wasn’t able to go to school but for a very few years. He was tall for his age and strong. He was needed to use that streangth and height to help support his family. You see, the polio epidemic came to the country town he grew up in and nearly took his only brother and his Dad, my Grandfather. Grampy was so young then and no longer able to work. My Dad needed to work and help support his family at a time when he should have been grumbling about homework and playing ball or riding his bike. He didn’t complain. I wasn’t there but I knew my Dad. I’m sure I’m right in saying he didn’t complain.
My Dad rarely complained. He also rarely had any extra money. There was always another bill to pay with every dollar he could earn. With just an elementary education, though, he learned more than many with 16 years or more of classroom time. How? Because when he was with a person, he was interested in that person. He focused on the person. He cared. Everyone he met was his “pal.” I so ofteen heard him saying “hi pal!” He met people down and out and people who were “big” name folks and they all were greeted that way. They all loved him and called him “hero” just as I still do.
He often spoke of the things he learned from these people. He learned “simple” things, in his own opinion. He could build a house, fix the plumbing, make a lamp, install a telephone when it wasn’t simply a wireless device. He could fix breakfast or a broken baby doll. Anyone who needed something fixed and was baffled knew they could call on him. He’d fix it. He’d always know just what to do. He always smiled. Those old family photographs betrayed how challenging life was “in those days” but not the ones with my Dad in them. He always had a smile, a laugh, an outstretched hand.
Funny, he would say he didn’t know much and that he learned from everyone around him. I think he had it wrong and I know they’d all agree. I believe they learned far more from Dad than he ever learned from them, and Dad met every challenge with a smile!
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I read a quote recently that really made me think. An unidentified missionary in Russia was quoted as having said that God loves us just as we are but that He also loves us too much to let us stay that way. Initially, this statement seemed contradictory and I questioned its theological accuracy. It, at first, sounded as though it reduced God’s immeasurable love for us to the somewhat questionable claims of love we hear (and speak) almost daily from (or to) family, friends, even virtual strangers. How often is a greeting card signed “love,” or an email closed with “love you?” How many times have you heard those “three little words” while on date with someone you’ve only barely come to know and thus assumed that they were perhaps a “means to an end” rather than a true expression of sentiment?
On the other hand, giving the quote a second thought, I find myself thinking of my childhood. As children, we were constantly surrounded by our parents, grandparents, teachers, etc., who accepted us as we were and then reprimanded us as well, expecting something more. What was this? It was their love for us manifesting itself in the effort to teach us to grow in understanding, and to keep us safe from harm. If our earthly mentors can love us this much, how much more can our Heavenly Father love us? He did, after all, give us His only son who died on a cross to save us from ourselves, and gave us His Holy Spirit to reside in us, to guard us, and to guide us in all we do.
We are the mirrors of that amazing love to the world. What a gift this is! How humbling to be given such a privilege to serve Him in this way! When we accept this commission, those three little words “I love you” are no longer a casual statement in the way our society has so often used them. Rather, we realize that they represent a blessing given to us, and one which we must share with others. This amazing love is indeed a gift and when we share it, we are twice blessed!