Last weekend my two sisters gathered with our parents in Chattanooga to celebrate mom’s and dad’s birthdays. Since I couldn’t make it, and since I know my older sister had planned a beautiful “memory lane moment” for them, I thought I’d at least chip in a few memories of each in this post.
Granted — most will probably not fully “get” what makes these so funny to our family. But everyone will get this — families are where it happens! So here’s to homes where life is lived in all its joy and fullness. All of its messiness and moodiness. All of its experiences and excitement. Yeah, all of that and more. That’s what a family is — a forever place that’s safe and sound in the middle of everything that sometimes seems like the opposite. And thank you, mom and dad, for leading the way and giving us a home built by wisdom, established with understanding, and rooms full of knowledge (Proverbs 24:3-4). Oh, yeah, and happy birthday!
My Dad and…
I remember dad grading papers and piling up mounds of pencils beside all his blue book exams, changing every few minutes to make sure he was using a sharp one. And of course, they were all lined up so neatly and orderly. Seemed like hundreds all in row by the chair. Whew! I’m sure there’s a pencil fetish there we just don’t know about.
No wonder I value Communion today. For a few years, dad and mom allowed me (and my sisters I think) to be the “clean up” crew for the Lord’s Table leftovers, which simply meant once the adults were finished (we weren’t permitted to be in there, but mom and dad let us watch from upstairs), we could “finish off” whatever juice and crackers remained. Talk about transubstantiation gone wild — boy, we had loads of the body and blood in us! I remember dad clearly warning us not to disturb the pre-service Communion, but then, with a grin, reminding me I’d have my turn when it was over. Something about that form of Sunday morning snack just seems more sanctifying than today’s donuts and coffee.
…his Knack for Names
Few things communicate like a nickname. And dad could come up with the best of them. Rascal Boy. Schnozzlerotzer. And nobody could say them like him. And frankly, nobody inside our home wanted him to say them outside of home! But often he did, and we’re probably better because of it. After all, if you want to give your child a sense of security and worth instantaneously, just call them by a unique, one-of-a-kind name no one on the planet has ever heard before. Yeah, like Sugar Booger. Works every time.
My Mom and…
It’s one thing to mow the grass. Or rake the yard. But sweeping the street? Yep, that was part of the routine. And with no apologies. From a good ways up the hill mom would sweep — or she’d make sure I did it — the tiny gravel and dirt into a pile and dispose of it, keeping not only our yard looking good, but a section of Parkdale Avenue as well. I still think the city should have given mom and dad a tax break most years for saving substantial money in the public works budget.
Two of mom’s famous words were “one day.” I think it was her way of instilling the “reap-what-you-sow” principle into us. For instance, once in college when I decided not to attend church one Wednesday, she raised her eyebrows and said, “One day…” Or when I would wear jeans to class even though the rulebook said no jeans allowed in class, she’d gently remind me, “One day…” Here’s the crazy part — she was usually spot-on about the end result! I’m still not sure I agree with the theology behind all that (you’d have to hear the rest of those sentences to fully understand what I mean), but somewhere in the mix of heaven and earth, mom understood real life. Hey mom — whatayasay we gather round the piano next Thanksgiving for a stirring rendition of “One Day?”
…her Knack for Clean.
Mom was usually the first one ready and the last one out. Dad always said it was because if burglars broke into our home, at least she’d know things were put away and they didn’t rob a messy home. Not sure I buy that, but this I do know — mom was the expert at the final countdown. You could see her, just moments before leaving the house, mentally running through her checklist, ensuring all the lights were off, doors closed, rugs straight, dishes clean, notes made, schedules set, beds made, trash out, and counters wiped. Once satisfied, she’d be right behind the rest of us, loading up and heading to our destination. I’m pretty confident, when the rapture occurs, Jesus will somehow assign mom the task of making sure whatever is left behind is at least in some semblance of order. Make no mistake — she’s going up with us, but no doubt she’ll be the last one outta here, probably leaving a note for whomever is left to make sure the bathroom is clean.