It’s been a pleasure.
This morning, for example, Dad came in to breakfast with a memory about sacking oats in his boyhood with a fellow named “Willie T.” Dad said, “There we were, sacking oats in that little shed with the tin roof on it, on one of the hottest days in the summer, and boy, did Willie T stink!” I had never heard that story before, and I had to look for a place to file the mental picture it created.
And then Mom spread out all her family photos on the dining room table while I was doing some reading for Sunday’s sermon. One after another she would push them across to me and ask me if I remembered this or that event. There they were: pictures of me and my brothers, my grandparents, some of the places we used to live. Most of them I had seen before, but some of them were new. Again I looked for places in my brain to store the images.
The mental file cabinets are overflowing.
I’ve cooked meals for my folks, washed dishes, helped Dad get a shower, helped Mom find a pen—all those things they used to do for me without grumbling or complaining. And it really is that endless stream of “little things” that flows into the pool of family love. They did them for me, and now I get to do them for them, and the pool gets deeper and wider.
If there were a theme for this Fifth Commandment Retreat it might be “Abundance”: an abundance of memories, an abundance of love, an abundance of care once received and now given with gratitude. “Honor your father and mother,” God said. Today it strikes me not so much as a command but as an offer, as a way of entering into abundant life. But those of you who have cared for your aging parents know how it goes:
Tomorrow may be another story altogether.