Friday, March 27, 2015

The Living Years

Next Tuesday will be the sixth anniversary of Mom's passing and in nineteen days, we will mark the seventh anniversary of Dad's death  I guess you have to lose a mother or father to realize how much you love them. The following is from August 6, 2006.

To watch and listen to The Living Years, please copy and paste the link below!

I'm in St. Louis. Yesterday, I flew here to be part of a surprise celebration for my mother and father. Their congregation, the Lafayette church of Christ, hosted a banquet in appreciation for my parents' labor in the kingdom of heaven. The brainchild of Don and Jeanette Gartner, the event was an outpouring of love. My brother Scott, his son, Nathan, and I represented our family in the festivities. The meal was catered, the teens of the church served, and eighty brothers and sisters in Christ turned out to bless my folks. Dad was completely surprised. Even though the planning had been progressing for months, the church managed to keep it a secret. Scott, who coincidentally was already in town, maneuvered Mom and Dad to the church building for the party. The auditorium was transformed into a hall befitting a gala. There was a video presentation, featuring members of the congregation putting into words how much they love Roger and Nelda. Four speakers, including Scott and me, spoke ten minute tributes, sharing anecdotes to emphasize the impact of these two lives. An open mike, scrapbooks of remembrances, and letters from around the country completed the party. The whole night was perfect. Dad soaked in the love and kept commenting of how unworthy he felt. Mom smiled as friends she no longer recognizes hugged her and told her of their abiding affection. As a son, I was humbled and as a Christian and human being, I was reminded of our innate desire to be connected.

In 1995, an English musician named Mike Rutherford penned a song, delving into his life-long battle with his dad over the things fathers and sons fight about. The lyrics convey a son trying to make peace but never completing the armistice. Suddenly, it was too late. He references his father's death and sentiments left unspoken. Recorded by Mike and the Mechanics, Rutherford concludes his epitaph with these words:

I wasn't there that morning
When my father passed away.
I didn't get to tell him
All the things I had to say.
I think I caught his spirit later that same year.
I'm sure I heard his echo in my baby's new born tears.
I just wished I would have told him in the living years

That's what I learned last night. There will come a time when it's too late to tell the people we love we love them. My problem is not with my folks- I tell them I love them everyday. The issue is with the rest of humanity. We put things off until all the tomorrows have run their course. I am so proud of my parents' church. They continually show their dedication to the Lord through their dedication to his creatures. Dad has some tough decisions to make in the future concerning his care for Mom. Her Alzheimer's is marching on at an unrelenting pace. But he is not alone as he tries to fulfill his marital vows. From those older than Mom to those in their teens, this congregation has made itself available with prayers, encouragement, and a physical presence in moments when Dad needs a little relief. In June when I visited, Dad acquired tickets to the Missouri History Museum for a Benjamin Franklin exhibit, necessitating someone sitting with Mom. A sixteen year old young lady from their church, Caleigh, spent the afternoon with Mom. When Dad and I returned, we found Caleigh had been reading to my mother. The material: Clifford, The Big Red Dog, a classic children's tale. Mom absolutely loved it; it's possible she has read the same book to her grand kids. But probably what thrilled her most was the undivided attention from a wonderful Christian girl like Caleigh. My belief is that a person's diminished mental capacities do not diminish their ability to respond to love and kindness. Caleigh received that gift of love and kindness from her parents and is passing it on to my parents. And she, like the rest of her church, is doing it at the time when it matters most....the living years.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Age does not protect you from love. But love, to some extent, protects you from age."
Jeanne Moreau

God bless,
Luke 18:1

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Jon said...

I cant believe they kept a secret for so long.... its cool that all of the family was there

pop said...


How in the world did you choose such a appropriate blog to reprint. Teresa and I love you and your family so very deeply. When our friend Mark Gable was dying of Cancer he expressed to me several times his concern that he continue to be a good example in dying as in living. You (like him) and your family are examples to us all.


Carlin and Teresa