Some Things Do Last Forever!

Housemate Father Tom Meulemans, O. Praem. found me in the priory laundry room early yesterday morning while I was ironing a couple of shirts. As he peeked his head into the room he said, “Boy, that scene would make your mother proud!” I responded, “She would be more proud of me if I would have caught the shirts a bit earlier in the dryer and wouldn’t had to have done the ironing in the first place!”

It was ironic that Father Tom mentioned my Mom at that moment because, quite honestly, I was thinking of her – and Dad as well – while I was attending to the laundry. You see it was just one day earlier that I was up in Antigo celebrating their wedding anniversary – Mom would be upset if I told you how long my parents have been married! But I was thinking, the day after the anniversary, of how blessed I am to have the parents that I do -- hopefully you can say the same about your parents.

I often think of how wonderful it would be – and what a blessing and privilege it would be – to have children. Beyond the joys of teaching your child how to ride a bike -- or holding their hand on the first day of school -- or witnessing their First Holy Communion -- or gently guiding them through their awkward days of adolescence -- or walking your daughter down the isle on her wedding day, there are so many special milestone moments that parents witness with their children that must make life feel so very fulfilling and life-giving. All of this, I assume, would be secondary to the very blessed moment of actually bringing the child into the world – the joy, the dreams, the anxiety of such a sacred moment!

But I am also aware, vicariously, of the responsibilities and demands associated with bringing children into the world. I am exposed to this on a daily basis, it seems, when I hear of the trials, tribulations and hardships that children, adolescents and adults experience in life. It is difficult enough for a priest to experience these moments with one’s parishioners; I cannot imagine how difficult these moments must be when it’s mom and dad dealing with the hardships – big or small – with son or daughter.

And yet my Mom and Dad have done this exceptionally well; and like a good wine, their parenting has not stopped once we kids have gotten older – it has changed over the years and their influence and direction is even more appreciated today as they continue to give and give and give.... This has been characteristic of their parenting for as longs as I can remember; selflessly, Mom and Dad have always lived for their children; they have made the needs of their four children the foundation of their own needs.

As many of you know, I have been making many trips to Antigo over the past few weeks. It’s an opportunity for me to check up on Dad’s health while attending to Mom’s sciatic nerve issue (which will be addressed soon). Mom and Dad have NEVER asked me to come home to assist them in their needs --- not only is that not their style, but I am sure they can take care of each other on their own. Nevertheless being at home with my parents during their need allows this son to be a parent every now and then; it can be difficult at times (as you parents and sons and daughters of parents are aware), but what a blessing it is to return a blessing.

Unlike Mom and Dad and my siblings David, Gina and Teresa, I have not brought children into the world. Nonetheless, I do have any number of students, Packers and inmates whom I try to assist in the midst of pastoral needs with parent-like love and attention; the grace that is mutually given and received amidst such activity is what the Church has in mind when a priest is referred to as “Father.” I never take that title for granted, and I am certainly aware of how intimidating that salutation can be given the demands of fatherhood and parenting.

Father Tom seems to think that I must make my Mom proud because I can be somewhat ‘domestic’ around the house every now and then. I hope that my parents are proud of their sons and daughters for any number of reasons; perhaps they can be most proud that our own parenting skills as parents and priest were fashioned by their own courageous and loving parenting – a true gift that keeps on giving – selflessly and out of love.

Expanding the notion of family life, “God’s flock is in your midst; give it a shepherd’s care!”


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful and loving tribute to your Mom and Dad; and what a great picture! It's obvious how proud you are of them.

As I read your tribute, you certainly emulate your parents' love and compassion for anyone who seeks your guidance. (The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.)



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