NOTE: SINCE YESTERDAY 12-18-18 WAS DADDY’S BIRTHDAY, I INTENDED TO GET THIS WRITTEN AND POSTED BEFORE THE DAY WAS OVER. UNFORTUNATELY, I COULDN’T MAKE THAT HAPPEN; HAPPY BIRTHDAY DADDY!
So far I’ve talked about my grandparents and the one great-grandparent that I remember most; memories I have of them and how they influenced my life. Now it’s time to share memories of Mama and Daddy and that’s a daunting task. I think parents are the biggest influencers on their children until they reach 12-14 years old, then friends, teachers and others begin to nibble away at the parents’ influence. Parents’ influence never goes away though and I’m blessed to still have mine and still benefit from their advice and influence.
Discussing Mama and Daddy will be different in a couple of ways from what has been written in this series. First, I want to write about them as a team and not individually, because that’s how I see them in my mind. Second, I don’t have any funny stories to share about them; not that we haven’t had our share of good times and laughs. I guess because I too am a parent and I take that role as a serious challenge, I would like to be the kind of parent mine have been and still are and I think that’s where I want to focus this post.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deut 6: 4-9
This was the starting point for Mama and Daddy and the framework for the way they handled our house and their two sons. Daddy was/is a deacon in their church as well as Sunday school class teacher and song/choir director. Mama played the piano for services for many years, and I mean all services- Sunday morning and evening, Wednesday evening prayer service and revivals. I believe they now serve as treasurers handling the money and paying the bills. And they always assist in some way in Vacation Bible School. If you surveyed their church members to see who the church leaders are, their names would be at the top of the list; probably even before the pastor because they have been there for many many years. They have seen many pastors come and go but they are fixtures in their church and always have been.
With the passage above from Deuteronomy as the foundation of our house there are some other verses that were applicable to our family:
“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” Prov 22: 1
Mama and Daddy worked hard but their objective was never to be wealthy. Provision was the goal and maintaining character and a good name always came before money or acquiring anything. Proverbs 31: 10-31 describes “The Wife of Noble Character” and Mama’s name is written throughout the passage. In fact, all of the wives and mothers, in my family, including my very own wife, are described by this passage.
“Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Prov 22: 6
While Mama and Daddy emphasized the training aspect of parenting, I would be foolish to say I never departed from it. I was the rebel in our family and I’m sure I am responsible for many of the gray hairs on Mama’s head and those missing on Daddy’s. That doesn’t in any way detract from the job they did; those times when I really messed things up just reflect poor judgement on my part. Mama and Daddy continued to love me when I was not loveable and in spite of the fact that I could have damaged their reputation and character. “Train a child in the way he should go…” implies to me that all children are different and have a unique path for their life. The parents’ job is to help the child discover that path and follow it. I’m sure we don’t agree on a lot of things today, but I believe they raised me to find my path and I’m attempting to “not turn from it” now.
I saw the hard work that fell on both of them. Daddy’s job required him to get up in the wee hours of the morning and drive to Gadsden, about 25 miles away. After driving a bread delivery truck all day, jumping in and out of the truck countless times he would return home often after we had already had dinner. He would eat a quick bite and usually fall asleep in his chair before going to bed and starting the next day all over again six days per week. He was off on Sunday, a day filled with church activities. One of the later outcomes of this job was he had to have both knees replaced; repeatedly climbing in and out of the bread truck just destroyed his knees.
Because Daddy’s schedule was full Mama had the job of seeing after two rowdy sons, cooking, cleaning and basically running the house. She was also the primary disciplinarian until we got about as big as her. After I started school Mama went to work full time in the school system and stayed with it until she retired. Daddy eventually got a different job; still in sales, but he didn’t have to get up in the middle of the night to go to work.
In addition to their jobs, they managed to plant, tend and harvest a good sized garden each year. As Gary and I got older, we worked in the garden and cut the grass but Mama still had to can or freeze the garden veggies. They recently sold their house with the big yard and moved to a patio home. They no longer have to do any yard work (except what they want to do with shrubs and flowers) and they are enjoying their great-grandchildren whenever possible.
In today’s culture growing up in a stable home is rare, but I have never experienced an unstable home environment. If I’m counting correctly Mama and Daddy are approaching their 69th wedding anniversary. I used to think they were overly strict and I never got to drive a fancy car, and I never got to…. Heck I even had dates when my curfew was earlier than the girl I was with.
“Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” Job 12:12
So I guess as I’ve aged I not only have a better understanding of why Mama and Daddy did many of the things they did, I embrace and appreciate them for the way they “trained me up”. And I love them dearly!
Mama and Daddy in front of the garden