Friday, June 12, 2015

Honoring Your Parents

“Honor Thy Father and Mother.” (Exodus 20:12)
This past week, we have been on a roller coaster ride with my mom’s health.  She spent four nights and five days in the hospital and is now in rehab to get her strength back.  When the ambulance took her in, we weren’t sure what was going on and it was a very frightening moment, as well as a few very stressful following days.  Fortunately, she’s on her way to recovery and is doing quite well.

My mom and dad celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in March and are still going strong in their love and devotion to each other.  I love my parents so much that it sometimes hurts.  They’ve done so much for me and I will always be grateful.

My parents are good people.  They’re members of the First Baptist Church in Cookeville and they love their family and friends.  Dad has a beautiful voice and will sometimes sing in the choir. 

It’s hard seeing our parents get older and start to have their health issues.  I have friends who are going through similar experiences with their parents.  I’m very fortunate in that I am able to be here for mine, just as they were for me. 

Personally, I believe that we choose our parents before coming to earth, and we do so because we have lessons to be learned from them, as they have lessons to be learned from us.  Those lessons could be anything from the simple to the extreme.  There are good parents and bad parents, just as there are good children and bad children.  Our souls are here playing a role, and these are the actors we chose to perform with in this great stage play we call life.

No matter what my experiences were with my parents, one thing I’ve always done is to honor and respect them.  Okay, the teen years and a few other times may have been a bit rough on all of us, but we made it through.  My parents were ‘blessed’ with a free spirit for a daughter and I know it hasn’t always been easy on them, but we always loved each other regardless of the adventures we experienced. 

My parents set a great example for me in the way they honored their own parents.  I loved all my grandparents and great-grandparents dearly and we would visit them as often as we could.  As I grew older, I kept in constant touch with all of them.  Now that they’re all gone from this earth, I miss them terribly.  I keep thinking I should have loved them more, written and called them more, and visited more, but my inner Spirit reminds me that I loved them so much, did all I could to stay in touch, and that I was a good, loving granddaughter. 

Many cultures stress the importance of honoring their parents or even older people in general.  I read once where a Native American said they don’t call their seniors ‘old people,’ but instead call them ‘Elders’ and since then I’ve also always called them Elders.  The term ‘Elder’ is a title of respect. 

I totally understand that respect either way is difficult if not impossible when it comes to abuse or other life experiences that tear families apart.  I would never tell someone who was being abused by their parents that they have to honor and respect those very people who are harming them.  Respect, in part, is also earned.  Family relationships can be very complicated.  But when we do have good relationships with our parents, there is more we can do to respect and honor them. 

For many, children’s lives become so busy that keeping contact with parents takes a back seat to everything else.  Then one day our parent(s) is gone and we can’t go back to say and/or do the things we wish we would have said/done while they were alive.   Ask anyone who knows me…  I’m really big on telling my family and friends that I love them and appreciate them because I know that one day either they or I may no longer be here.  I want them to know my love for them while they’re alive and well. 

Life is short and we may not have the time we think we have to tell our parents and children that we love them.  Personally, I don’t want to live with those kinds of regrets.  Do you?

Mom and Dad….   I love you dearly and appreciate you both so much!  Thank you for all you’ve done for me and for being my parents!

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper June 12, 2015.

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