Sunday was Father’s Day and I had a really good day. My daughter took me out to breakfast. My son called from out of state. We laughed, we kicked back, we ate the best baby-back ribs I’ve ever tasted. And I got to watch Tiger Woods perform magic. It was a great day for me as a father.
But I wonder how well I am doing honoring my parents. When I was a kid, honoring my father and mother was a pretty simple concept. It meant obeying them, not talking back, doing my chores without attitude, etc. In this stage of life it is a mandate with far more subtlety.
A few years ago my father passed away, but his only brother, my Uncle, lives 20 minutes away. My Uncle has been widowed twice, has never had children of his own, and these days faces growing health concerns. Once a week I go to his home to help manage his finances, sort medicines, and generally check in on him. His hearing aids work only about half the time making communication comically difficult. But he is a good man with a generous heart. Being there for him feels like the right thing to do and to be honest, I wonder if serving him is a way I can honor my father. I wonder how my kids are affected by my efforts at serving my Uncle.
I am also wondering a lot these days about how I might do a better job honoring my mother. She is a trouper, but without my father around, taking care of the house and managing the chores of life are becoming more and more complicated for her. However, she lives two hours away, unless traffic is bad. (It took five hours once.) It is just plain hard to get out to her place as often as I would like. My wife, Margaret and I have made a commitment to go out to my Mom’s at least once a month, but something inside me knows that there is more at stake than “just doing the right thing.”
What’s at stake for me in all this is the challenge of learning how I might truly honor my mother and father in a new way at this complicated stage in life. My growing conviction is that honoring them now is more important than it has ever been.
I was a clueless child during all those years when caring for me or wiping my butt were inconvenient for my Mom. Perhaps, inconvenience is an irrelevant factor in my considerations about how and when to serve them.