“I can’t believe my parents are gone.”
I said this to my wife a few days ago. I say it every once in a while. As if it’s a new revelation to me.
The truth is . . . each time I say it, it is.
But immediately, as I say it, I think of my father’s words from decades ago. He would say, “No! You can believe it. What you mean to say is you can hardly believe it.”
That was the way I was raised: a father always trying to teach us more accurate use of the King’s English. We would sit at dinner, talking, and he would use a word like “prevaricate.” And we would have to scramble to the dictionary to see what he meant. Of course, like most kids, the rebellious streak in us tired of learning this way. On the other hand, the other streak (the Mr. Hyde, I suppose) respected it, and benefited.
And to this day . . . I find my self teaching in the same way.
It is not all that popular in our culture anymore, but . . . I think there is much to recommend with regard to honoring our parents.
Honoring them in life. Even in those final days, months, or years – when they are frail, failing in both mind and body, burdening us with their emotional and physical care. Those who once held us, now need us to hold them. And if we do –
We will not regret it.
Honoring them in death. My brother and I presided at both Mom and Dad’s funerals. We had no minister there. We made all the arrangements, printing and planning the programs, speaking, verbally guiding the memorials. And I am so glad we did. It was literally our tribute to each of them. Homespun, yes. But genuine, and personal; done by those who knew them best. (My brother and I are both quite comfortable with public speaking, so that factor held no foreboding to either of us).
That is certainly no indictment on those who choose to do otherwise. But it was (and is) meaningful for us to have carried it out as we did.
Honoring them after death. There is a certain reverence that abides after one has passed. When you speak of them, even humorously, you do so with a soberness in reserve. And I think that is appropriate.
So, as I move about in my life, and speak words to others, I am always reminded (sometimes in surprising places) of things my parents would have said had they been present. I am aware – keenly aware – that their gifts to me are priceless, numberless, and essential to my life.
And I give honor to their memory.