Monday, May 31, 2010

To Remember....



Beyond the day off from work (for some), beyond the sales, beyond the ideal beach weather, beyond the grilling of burgers, hot-dogs, steaks, beyond watching endless marathons on TV, beyond all that.....

Today is Memorial Day, the day in which we as a country remember those who went to serve in our armed forces, and never came home. Whether they served in the Ardennes, whether they served on the beaches of Normandy or the hell of Iwo Jima, whether they served on the front lines in Korea, or the stifling jungles of Vietnam. Whether they served in the Gulf War, or Iraq or Afghanistan....we remember you and honor you with our gratitude.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mother's Day



Despite the heavy commercialism that is created by the Greeting Card companies, florists, and restaurants, it was a holiday established by a woman who wished to have mothers and their contributions observed. In actuality, it can be traced back to ancient Greece, and their worship of the mother figure. On this Mother’s Day, I think of two mothers who have deeply and profoundly changed my life: my own mother, and my wife.

My mother, Shirley, is 86 years old this year, and going through dementia. She is forgetful of things you might tell her 2 minutes before, and needs to have a written calendar in front of her to know what she needs to do that day. But her contributions in my life have been vital. First off, she is a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ. Her spiritual influence in my life cannot be understated. As a child, Sunday School and church were mandatory. But we were fortunate to be in a church that was vital and alive, and full of wonderful music and preaching talent. I “found” Christ early in my life, and through my mother’s spiritual foundation building, I never really wavered from that foundation. Even when I started to attend churches that were not hers, her influence was still there, for I stayed within (for the most part) our denomination, and the love of traditional worship. My mother’s musical influence was important too. She was a singer, sang in the choir at our church before she met and married my dad, and sang to me nightly as a child straight from the hymnbook. My love and knowledge of old hymns of the faith were due to her love of them and her sharing them with her voice. As I turned into a youth and began to sing in youth choirs, she was there for our concerts. And when I sang in professional choruses as an adult, she was there for those concerts. As I began my tentative social life and dating, she would not give her opinion of the girls that I’d bring over, but she didn’t have too. Her actions spelt out clearly whether she approved or not. Finally, when I brought over Lorrie to meet my parents, she was pleased, and to this day, she and Lorrie are close. And now she’s a grandmother to my 3 kids.

Which leads me to Lorrie. Lorrie was a single mom when we met, which was a bit intimidating to me at the time. I had dated a few women, but no single moms. I didn’t know what kind of “baggage” I’d have to work with. But I kept seeing her at concerts, backstage and at rehearsals (we were introduced by a friend who had sung with Lorrie and was singing with me at the time, and he frequently brought her and Justin to events). So, I kept thinking “am I missing something by at least asking her out?” So I did. A year later we married. Colin was born before our 1st anniversary, and Audrey before our 2nd Anniversary. But I had already had a taste of her mothering skills before we even married. She was firm with Justin, but fair. And since then, I have seen her be firm with the kids, but very fair and even. She teaches them that their actions, both good and bad, have consequences. You break a rule, and there is punishment. But you do good, and there is reward. But the rewards are not toys or presents, or trips to Target. The rewards have meaning: going to get ice cream at Coldstone Creamery; fixing cookies; cuddle time on the couch, or at night as they go to bed; regular hugs and kisses. These things are what inspire the kids to do their best, and to do things that they want to do. Sometimes they make mistakes, but between Lorrie and I we have our own rules: we don’t punish them twice. For example, if Colin does something he shouldn’t and Lorrie punishes him, I don’t punish him as well. And Lorrie makes sure the level of punishment fits the offense. Leaving food out for Snoopy to get is a simple scolding. But lying, or stealing, or cheating, or hitting (Audrey LOVES to punch her two brothers) bring on harsher punishments. But through it all, the kids know that she loves them.

So, Happy Mother’s Day to the two most important moms in my life. My mom, and my wife.