As I think about my life, I surely am blessed. My upbringing could not have been better. We lived on a budget, for sure, but I did not lack. Perhaps we were in a perpetual state of waiting “ The two years when our ship would come in”, however, in the midst of the waiting, we lived a full life.
Sunday morning always filled me with such joy. I woke up to my favorite TV programs: The Children’s Hour climaxing with “Davey and Goliath”, followed by the beginning of the Oral Robert’s program featuring the Oral Robert’s singers! I gathered my purse, my Bible, and my very own offering envelope with great anticipation of Sunday school and church. Not attending church was never a question in our house. I’m forever grateful for the Christian values modeled and taught to me throughout my life.
To have a mama and daddy who loved God, loved each other, and loved my sister and me seemed the norm to me then. Now I realize how truly special my home life was. With over 50% of marriages ending in divorce, it really is a wonder that my parents have been married 55 years. Not only have they stuck together, they truly love each other. I am a witness of daily love and affection. Of course there have been disagreements, times of lost patience, and frustration, but never did I doubt their genuine, forever love.
What is forever love? It is two people both willing to give all every day and never stop fighting for each other! It is not a fairytale, but it’s a battle against the odds and two individuals continuing to fight as one. It requires an agape, unconditional love one gains from following the Father.
This love was spoken by words and lived out by actions. I cannot remember a night when I would go to sleep without one of my parents coming to my room, saying my prayers with me, telling me they loved me, and kissing me good night. This was our routine. What a precious life lesson I could carry on with my children, and I pray they carry on with their children!
My husband preaches “ you don’t spoil a child with things; you spoil him with the lack of discipline.” I lacked no discipline. My household contained rules and boundaries, and I received my due punishment up on many occasions. However, I never hated my parents because I knew what was expected of me, and I knew they loved me.
One of my favorite things was to sit by my daddy while he was watching TV. He would seemingly subconsciously rub my back or “pet” my hair. It was a place of safety and love.
I also have memories of my mom pushing my hair behind my ear only to pull it gently forward again. Over and over this gesture would tenderly coax me to sleep. My poor husband must now rub on my arm or play with my hair almost nightly.
I crave that touch of intimacy. I’m thankful for his patience and generosity towards my neediness. But, honestly, I believe I was taught from a young age the tenderness and security of the love language: physical touch.
Some of my favorite Sundays were when we leave church, drive to Terrell to the pizza buffet, onto Dallas to an afternoon movie, and be back in time for evening youth service! Although our lives were busy, and daddy didn’t get home until after dark many nights, we always had occasion for quality time as a family.
Summer vacations, spring break ski trips, and Friday night lights are some of my favorite memories! Working in the garden, seining for fish bait, and hauling hay tipped the scale between hard work and fun family time, too. I grew up knowing the value of quality time spent with the ones I love.
And I will never forget when I was bullied in seventh grade, and I actually bloodied a girl’s lip when I couldn’t take it anymore. My daddy told me, “It’s like the coward of the county. ‘Sometimes you’ve got to fight…’.” (Kenny Rogers quote). Instead of being punished, my daddy affirmed my feelings and supported me. I felt empowered and courageous for my stance against the bully. I felt loved. My parents encouraged me, propelled me, and disciplined me. But, their loving words continue to bless me even as an adult.
We didn’t always have the namebrand, designer clothing. I can remember being embarrassed to shop at Walmart or the little store that was in downtown Edgewood at the time, but I never lacked what I needed. I can remember the Christmas I received a pair of button fly Guess jeans! they were expensive and my only designer pair! I’m thankful for the sacrifices my parents made to supply even the desires of my heart.
Giftgiving is one of my favorite things to do, and I know it’s because of the generosity of my parents. They truly instilled in me the spirit of being thankful for gifts, as well.
Acts of service – I would say this fifth and final love language was exemplified to me every day of my life. I never questioned my parents’ work ethic. I watched them put in long hours at school and then keep up a neat and orderly home. My mom was the best cook and taught us how to cook, clean, and organized in like fashion. During summers, daddy would take on extra jobs to help take us on vacation or to complete a household project. His secret cubby of “mad money” always brought joy for the entire family.
Life will never be the same with daddy gone, but our new normal will carry on with all the love and lessons he instilled in us along the way. He never gave up. He was a fighter until the end, and he would expect no less from us. Thank you daddy for being the best you could possibly be. I miss you, and I will love you forever. It’s my goal to love like you loved and carry on the legacy you began in my life.