In the fall of 2001, I was 42 years old. I had one daughter in High School, one in Middle School, and one in her last year at the Elementary School.
At Trinity Lutheran Church, on September 9th, we dedicated a new addition to our campus which included offices, gymnasium, kitchen, sun-walk hallway, courtyard, and the Sunday School education wing. Two days later the nation was rocked by the unimaginable events of September 11th.
In the fall of 2001, I was scheduled to begin a sabbatical by joining other pastors on a trip in the footsteps of Saint Paul in Greece and Turkey. My mother was 71 years old and she was not happy that I was going to travel internationally just weeks after airspace reopened in the wake of 9-11. Her pleading was unsuccessful.
A week before my departure I received a UPS package from my mother. It was a Canadian sweatshirt. The letter with the gift instructed me to wear the sweatshirt every day of my trip. “No one hates Canadians,” my mother wrote.
At the time, I chalked up her anxiety to her advancing age.
Now there is nothing that I am writing here that is critical of my mother, my darling daughters, or my beloved grandchildren. This is simply a reflection of a man of advancing age who spends a lot of time with anxious parents and grandparents. So here goes.
Why didn’t they tell us? Why didn’t they tell us when passion blurred our judgement and romantic delusions of parenthood danced in our heads? Why didn’t they tell us that this was a life sentence? Why did we think that raising these kids and putting them through college would then simultaneously launch them into adulthood and launch us into more carefree days, days without worry?
Why didn’t they tell us that it was a life sentence, and there would never be a day or week free from concern or worry for the fruit of our loins?
Why didn’t they tell us; that this parenting gig was a life sentence? And then, just when I thought it was safe to go out, grandchildren started arriving.
I am convinced that there is no greater gift of advancing years than grandchildren. They are an absolute joy! I can be Bapa to them, play with them, hold them, teach them, spoil them, and then return them to the parents I raised. But there is a problem with this Norman Rockwell painting.
Why didn’t they tell us that parenting was a life sentence? And when the grandchildren are born your sentence becomes: LIFE WITHOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF PAROLE. That’s right; now I have five more humans to worry about, pray for, and buy Canadian sweatshirts for. In my advancing age I now realize that my mother, bless her heart, was serving a life sentence without parole.
If only they had told me. If only they had told me, I would have done …. nothing differently.
If misery loves company, we ought to be happy together.
Sharing the human journey, I am your