I grew up in Seattle, Washington. One summer when I was home from college I took my dad hiking on Mt. Rainer.
Now our family, like every family, had stresses and hurts. I won’t go into the details. We all have hurts and we all have stories to tell. But suffice it to say our family had stresses and hurts.
My mother was sometimes an anxious person and the anxiety expressed itself in anxious ways. We knew she was hurting but it was not always easy. My dad, by comparison, was a quiet and patient man.
As my dad and I stopped for lunch on the Skyline Trail, I said, “Dad, I sure love you. It hurts to see mom pick at you the way she does.”
My father paused in a measured fashion. He took a bite of his sandwich. He replied quietly. “I would never let any man speak unkindly about your mother. I would appreciate it if you didn’t either.”
My dad was not angry. He was not aggressive. But in his quiet, patient way, he was teaching me something. My dad was teaching me to love and honor my mother. I was to love and cherish my mother for no other reason than that she was my mother.
My mother passed away 3 years ago. There is not a day that goes by that I do not miss her and think of her. My mom was feisty and fiery. She wasn’t perfect. But she was my mother. She never met a stranger. She laughed loud and hard. She was interested in people. She was fun and funny. She loved the outdoors and she loved the arts. She loved it all. She was larger than life.
She asked me once, “Was I a good wife to your father.” What could I say?
They say the best gift you give your children is to love their mother – or father. My mother loved my father for 63 years. She took care of him in his failing days. She tucked him into bed and kissed him “good night.” My father passed from this life with my mother next to him. My mother was a great wife. And in this she is the best mother in the world.
I have three boys, Clayton, Aaron, and Jason. If I were to teach my boys anything, if there is a lesson in life I would like them to have, it would be a lesson my father taught to me: You never speak ill of your mother; never. You honor and treasure your mother – just as she is -- unconditionally. Make it your life’s business that your mother knows your love. Surprise her with little things. Appreciate the things she does each day. Never compare her to anyone else. Smile and laugh. She wants to see you happy.
I love my mother more than words and I miss her more than I can say. And I would want my boys to love their mother in much the same way.
Jeff Sippy, a Dad-In-Training, is the father of three young men and the husband of Cindy. He enjoys sailing every chance that he gets. He is the senior pastor at Redeemer Lutheran in Springfield, MO and can be reached for question or comment at firstname.lastname@example.org