I recently flew down to Florida to visit my parents. Dad is now 83 and Mom is 82. They retired to Florida 25 years ago. They have been married now 60 years.
They married after Dad came home form World War II. He went to college on the GI bill. He and Mom were married and then lived in the married student housing (a small mobile home) at Michigan Tech University in the upper peninsula of Michigan. But then Mom’s mother passed away so Mom and Dad went and lived with Mom’s Dad until Dad graduated.
My brother Bob was born there in northern Michigan but Barb and I were born in the next city Mom and Dad lived in – Springfield, IL. After four years in Springfield Dad changed jobs and we moved to the Chicago area. Karen was born there. We rented for a few years and then they were able to buy their first home: 846 Alfini Drive, DesPlaines, IL. I believe that was 1957. (We loved the neighborhood and especially the nearby farmer’s field. It’s amazing how entertaining a field can be.
We were a one-car family until I was 12 years old. It had to be hard on Mom to have four young children and no transportation until Dad came home from work. Especially since during the week Dad traveled from Tuesday through Friday. So there were many days and nights that Mom had no transportation. Money was always tight. But Mom was a master planner. She could stretch the money Dad made to meet all of our needs. Sometimes she stretched it too much. Powdered milk was not at all popular with us – especially if we got a whiff of the plastic container Mom mixed it in. She did learn that if she mixed ½-powdered milk with ½-real milk we would drink it – so she settled on that. We ate dinner every night together at the kitchen table. Nobody left the table until the meal was proclaimed over by Mom. And we did not decide whether or not to eat. No, we had to eat what was placed in front of us. (There were children starving in Africa!)
Dad took a transfer to Pittsburgh when I was 12. Three of us went to college and left the nest from Pittsburgh. Karen finished school in Dad’s next transfer – Portland Maine.
Mom and dad paid for each of us to go to college. I barely made it in (thank God for my math ability.) They did make us work summers to earn spending money for each school year but they took care of the rest. To this day I do not know how they afforded it. All of us learned the importance of working hard, the importance of truthfulness, the importance of a good education, and much more.
There were many good days and some rough days over the years. Mom and Dad clashed a lot. But you know what? They were dedicated to each other and to their children. They got married for life and they meant. It.
Now they are quite old but seem to be more in love than ever. Mom developed Alzheimer’s and Dad stepped up to help her. As I was with them a few weeks ago I was moved to tears more than once as I watched my Dad patiently answer the same question hundreds of times (no exaggeration). He has to do everything for Mom. She cannot bathe herself she cannot dress her self. She cannot do anything for herself. But Dad is there, helping her every day. His patience is amazing. His love is sure. His heart is with her. He said to me – “Mom took care of me for fifty years, now it’s my turn to take care of her.”
As I have meditated on my parents I have rejoiced in the value of this rich legacy we are receiving. Yes, Mom and Dad are still building for us kids this legacy of faithfulness, a legacy of honor, a legacy of covenant love. And I will be eternally thankful for their love and for their example. Thank you Mom and Dad – for everything! What a life you have lived. What a legacy you are leaving us. God please help me do the same!