My Parents – A Love Story?
My parents were married April 3, 1948 – 5 years before I was born. Dad was married at the age of 24, the day before he turned 25, and my mother was 23. They were married at Trinity United Methodist Church, at 99th and Winchester Ave. in Chicago, IL – the same church that Janet and I attended with our families, and where we were married on August 24, 1973. Janet’ s parents and my parents attended Sunday School together, and that is where I first met Janet in the winter of 1959, when our mothers were both pregnant with our youngest siblings. But, back to my parents……
My mother and father both grew up in religious families. My Dad’s family was Baptist and my mother’s parents were Methodist. And, although my father supposedly accepted Christ as his Savior as a young boy, my Dad never demonstrated a faith life, and I never heard him speak of his salvation experience, or anything related to church. In fact, the only time I ever remember Dad going to church was when my mother forced the issue. Many times, I was dropped off to attend Sunday School and then walked the several blocks to my grandparent’s home, where Dad picked me up after lunch. My mother, although there is no doubt in my mind that she was a believer, never challenged my father on this issue, and so my church life was hit or miss, and I certainly did not take it seriously.
As I am reading what I am writing, I find it a little disturbing that I seem to think of my parents in terms of their faith. It wasn’t always that way. I used to think about playing catch with my Dad on the front sidewalk, or Mom taking me downtown to Marshall Fields’s, where she worked when I was born, to have lunch under the Christmas tree in the Walnut Room. She knew everybody, and it was like we almost grew up in the store. I never remember going there as a family, though. And as I get older, and Janet and I continue to grow in our faith, I am changing my view of life with my parents. In fact, over the years I have come to question if my parents had a good marriage, or whether they had just decided to go through life together, as husband and wife, for the sake of their children. And I will never know the answer to that, as Dad died back in 1978, when I was 25, and Mom died in 1998, from complications as a result of geriatric MS.
But make no mistake, I loved both my father and my mother. Most of my fond memories of my Dad are when I joined the business, but that is where my best memories of Mom tend to vanish. I am truly one of those folks who was close to both parents, but never at the same time in my life. And so my recollections of family gatherings tend to be skewed based on how I am feeling at the time I recall them. I am sure that sounds weird to you, but it’s the truth. And it seems that every year when their anniversary rolls around, I tend to relieve parts of my childhood and the way our family operated – I hope that Mom and Dad were deeply in love, although I can’t say for sure. I even remember when we threw a 25th anniversary party for our folks – in 1973, the year Janet and I were married – and now we have been married almost 38 years. How odd! Mom and Dad only made it to 30 before Dad died.
And that brings us to tonight’s verse – 1 Peter 3:7, “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” And herein lies the problem with this difficult verse – the original Greek doesn’t translate so well into the English. The word “weaker” really means, “rare, of irreplaceable value, unique in all the world.” Another definition compares a wife to something that is so valuable it can never be replaced – ever! So, a better translation may be something like, “treat them with respect as a unique, priceless, irreplaceable partner.”
So while I really don’t know whether Mom and Dad had that kind of a marriage, it is my hope that you will take this verse to heart, as it is really a beautiful sentiment – not at all like it reads in the English. My encouragement tonight is that God will grant you the type of spouse who treats you with this kind of reverence. And my prayer is that you will honor God by recognizing that our earthly marriages are a reflection of how much Christ, as the head of the church, loves us. So, Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad – I really do hope that you are together in heaven.