This time of year has become a little sad for Janet and me as the years roll on. While we rejoice in celebrating our anniversary each Aug. 24th, we are also reminded that both of Janet’s parents, as well as my mother, passed away during this time of year. In fact, yesterday was the 18th anniversary of the death of my mother, back on Sept. 14th, 1998. It’s an annual remembrance that I have become somewhat accustomed to. After all, Dad died back in 1978, 38 years ago and to some degree, details of my recollections with him – in our day to day lives – are fading a little as time goes on. Don’t get me wrong – I still have thousands of vivid memories of both Mom and Dad, but as time moves forward, it is inevitable that they creep a little further into the background. Those memories are getting replaced by continuing memories of our own three children and four grandchildren – and we are living life to the fullest.
The story with Janet’s parents is a little different. Unlike my situation, Janet’s parents both passed away three years ago – within 18 days of one another. It was quite a sad time. Janet’s mother unexpectedly passed away first, to the surprise of most of us in the family. And then, in the middle of grieving the passing of Nancy, Janet’s father passed away in early September. A second trip to Williamsburg and another memorial service awaited us. And while I have become used to not having my parents around, this was new ground for Janet.
But it’s difficult to deny that at our age, the death of parents is almost inevitable. I never had the joy of really knowing my Dad as an adult, and as my mother aged, she was plagued with health issues that made it very difficult to live a quality life. For the most part, taking care of her needs fell to Doug, one of my brothers, who did a great job during Mom’s final years of life.
And now, as Janet and I age, we must figure out the next season of our lives, knowing that there can well be many healthy, fruitful years ahead of us, growing older with our children and grandchildren. And it is our fondest wish that we continue to create memories with our family members that will, in the normal course of life, survive us – just as the memories of our parents have survived them.
Because that’s what it is all about in the ultimate analysis, isn’t it? Relationships… Not necessarily thinking about WHAT we will be doing the rest of our lives, but WHO we will impact with the remainder of our years. The model of this type of relational growth is Christ Himself. He poured His life into his disciples and they changed the world. The same thing can happen when we impact our children in a similar way – and they are never too old to learn from our example.
When we pour our lives into others, God’s richest blessings and greatest joys belong to us. And most of the time, the behaviors that we learn are those taught to us by our parents – in our own youth. And I don’t know anybody who in the deepest recesses of their being doesn’t want their parents to be proud of them. The verse for this evening is a short one – from the book of Proverbs. We are told, in Proverbs 23:25, “May your father and mother be glad; may she who gave you birth rejoice!”
That’s my encouragement for you this evening. By God’s grace, we have the chance to continue to impact the world – and especially our families. When that happens, God rejoices. My prayer is that you will be the model of behavior for our children and grandchildren – those generations that will carry the torch long after we are gone. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be remembered as good role models. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…