Growing up the youngest of six boys, I had plenty of opportunity to witness the very best parents and see how they handled matters before I ever had any matters for them to handle. I saw how they disciplined and rewarded my older brothers and how they discussed many matters between themselves before they approached us. Most of all, I observed how respectfully and lovingly they treated each other; whether arguing or talking peacefully, joking or discussing serious matters, my parents always put each other first, us second, and themselves last. That selflessness earned reward; all six of us grew up with the utmost respect for them as both people and parents. Because of the fantastic job they did in raising us, we have all also become the best parents.
I remember a few stories that my parents told us about handling six boys. We lived in Connecticut at the time, but Dad had to travel to Maine on business for a few weeks. Mom took us, six boys, out to a restaurant. A lady complimented her on how well we behaved. Of course, we did not always behave so great at home, but we knew that out in public, we behaved OR ELSE! We could not play “Dad’s not here.” Number One, Mom took care of us herself, and, Number Two, Dad would come home soon.
In another instance, Mom took me to a store. Incredibly, I misbehaved, a rare feat for such a wonderful child. Mom corrected me with one good, firm swat to the proper area; naturally, I repented and became the fine young gentleman once again. This time, another lady’s comments were not so sweet. She criticized my mother for daring to hit a young child! My mother calmly but very firmly said almost these exact words: “Ma’am, turn around and see what your kids are doing right now and then look at my son again,” and she took me away.
My parents did more than discipline us. They rewarded us as well. They gave us toys, money, and other presents, but their best reward came in the form of love and time. Even with six boys and two jobs each, our parents spent time with all six of us individually and as a family. They never gave the excuse that they did not have time; they made time for us. They played games with us, talked with us, or just sat with us to watch television. They attended our baseball games, band performances, school activities, and everything else they could possibly attend. I remember the last baseball game of my junior year. Dad had not seen me play very much that season because we played mostly away games, but this time we had an in-school home game. While warming up in the bullpen, I looked up and saw Dad paying his admission fee. He had taken the afternoon off to see me pitch. I got so pumped that I pitched my best game ever: a four-hit shutout. If only I could have pitched like that every time!
Our parents loved all kids. One day while helping Dad rewire the office at the little league fields, I saw a father came in to register his son for the season. When he heard the price, he very sadly told his son that he could not afford the fee, and the two left nearly in tears. Dad came down from the ladder, paid the fee, and asked the attendant to call the family without letting them know who paid.
In 2005, tragedy struck our family. Brian passed away very suddenly. Mom and Dad spent the last few years of their lives mourning the loss of their second-born son. Dad sat on the porch many nights in disbelief, and we all came together strong for them and ourselves. Once again, our parents became fantastic family leaders to keep us strong. Just writing this down brings me to tears.
As we all grew older, moved out, married, and had our own families, our parents made sure that we knew that we could still come to them for advice and even money if necessary. They also made sure that we still knew not to cross them. In 1997, Mom and Dad came over to see the house that my wife and I had just bought. Mom changed the television channel. I clasped my hands at the prospect of finally having my own say. I told Mom, “This is my house; that is my TV, so take my remote, and put my baseball game back on.” Mom stood up, looked me square in the eyes, and responded, “And I am still — your mother!” I asked what channel she wanted, where she wanted to sit, and how much coffee I should make!
Mom and Dad have now gone to be with the Lord, and we miss them terribly. However, God gave them the grace to see their fiftieth wedding anniversary. In 2009, we threw the biggest bash that our hometown had ever seen. Both failing in health, Mom and Dad gathered their strength and prayed for this day. Friends and family came from all over to celebrate, and I had not seen them so happy since Brian passed. Soon after, we lost both parents, and we will forever miss them. Praise God that He allowed this day to come and Praise Him even more that we know that Mom, Dad, and Brian are all with Him in Heaven.
Mom and Dad’s teachings still live within us. With their raising and the perfect guidance of Ephesians 5, we raise our son in Godly manner to become a responsible and hard-working man who cares for others. My brothers do the same with their own kids. Physically, our parents have left us, but spiritually and emotionally, they will live with us eternally.