Everyday I am surrounded my 13 and 14 year olds who have angst against their mothers and fathers, and think their parents know nothing. They think their parents are smothering them and stealing their individuality.There is a part of me that understands. I too was a crabby teenager once who thought that my mother couldn't possibly know what she was talking about [rolling eyes for emphasis]. But there is a bigger part of me that tries to tell them how much they will appreciate their parents as they grow older.
However, I realize that who their parents are plays a big role in the growing appreciation as well.
And that is why I'm writing this: because my parents have earned every ounce of my respect as I've become an adult.
Most of you know, at least in bits and pieces, what my parents have been through over the past 3, scratch that, 10 years. And many of you know that battle for justice is finally over. And as our family celebrates this victory, I want to share publicly the letter I wrote for my mom and dad for their past anniversary [30 YEARS!], to say once again how proud I am of them for enduring, and so others can see the blessing my sister and I have been given in our parents.
Mom and Dad,
As I begin writing, something I went to college to learn how to do well, I don't quite know how to put my pen to paper. Sure, every writer is occasionally caught off guard, wondering if they have any good fodder left. But that is not what concerns me this time; what concerns me is that this pen in my hand will not be able to adequately express how grateful I am to call you "mom and dad."
I remember crawling under the big, wooden desk in dad's office, the wood floor icy beneath us, reading and giggling through "Berenstein Bears" or Dr. Suess. I remember pulling up the little chair to the counter in the kitchen to "help" mom mix up the latest evening meal. I remember being trained to answer the phone, "This is the C. residence, Kelsey speaking." I remember being hung from my ankles into a trash can fermenting with smells from a late night summer party, and being informed as I gagged, "This is what beer smells like." I remember having to turn off the T.V. and "spend some time outside."
I remember a mom who sacrificed time and money to spend those young, formative years with her two little girls under her nose and in her arms-- a mom who gave up a paycheck to rock me to sleep and teach me not to talk back. A mom who would always keep the small or burnt piece of chicken so no one in her family had to eat it. I remember a mom who, no matter what, had dinner on the table to ensure we all shared those priceless moments eating green beans and sharing life together.
I remember a dad who worked tirelessly to ensure that his wife could stay home with their daughters and that they would all be provided for. I remember a dad who worked to live, but never lived to work, and taught me the importance of balance in life. I remember a dad who was always at my bedside at a moment's notice when a faint or panicked "Daddy!" echoed through the hall-- a dad who taught me how to hold a pen correctly, and appreciate the beauty outside the window. A dad who taught me how to field dress a deer and shoot a jump shot. A dad who taught me how to laugh, and appreciate history and find a hobby I could be passionate about.
I remember one time stumbling upon some old letters from when you two were dating. I wondered if I should open them, read them, spill over the words inside? It seemed almost dangerous, like I would discover you weren't really who I thought you were. Because I was a bit of a rebel, or maybe because I was simply too curious to let the moment pass by, I opened the letter and inside I discovered you had always been crazy in love.
I remember in late elementary hearing one of my friends say her parents were getting divorced. This scared some of my friends and made them question their parents' relationships. Somehow though, I knew you two were okay; that you would make it. Thank you for allowing me to rest well that night, knowing my parents would not ever be getting divorced.
As I get older, I see in me so much of both of you. Mom: who knew I would learn to love the kitchen, and preparing meals to share with others?! I know how to be hospitable because you have always opened your home and heart to others, without expecting anything in return. I have a prayer posted by the computer that says: "Lord, help me be my husband's helpmate, companion, champion, friend, and support. Help me create a peaceful, restful, place for him to come home to." It is there because I have seen you live that out, and I want that to happen in me. Dad: We've always known I love to be creative, a direct gift from you, but you've also taught me and passed on the ability to never know a stranger, and to face everything as if I have the ability to be the best at it. You've shown me what it truly means to be a person of justice and truth.
Over the past 2 years I have seen your marriage grow even deeper; your love become more palatable. Although emotions have run high, you have not forsaken each other, or your God. I have seen Dad's character be challenged, and have been a proud daughter to see it upheld under intense scrutiny. I have seen you be humbled and broken, and like Job proclaim, "He gives and takes away-- Blessed be the name of the Lord." I have seen mom's faith explode, her prayer life blossom like a flower in the spring. And like Job, you too have held tightly, proclaiming anew every morning, "I KNOW my Redeemer lives." I do not wish this had all happened, but I am thankful, as your child, to have seen that your faith is on the Solid Rock, and that your marriage has not just survived, but grown even in this.
After many birthdays, holidays, struggles, and triumphs, you both were there for me to celebrate in my joy as Brent asked me to be his wife. I was able to say "YES" that night because I had seen a Christian marriage work. And as our wedding day unfolded, as perfectly as any little girl's dream, I remember thanking God that on both sides of that center aisle were two families who were still holding each others' hands as their children said, "I do," confident that they could keep that promise because of the commitments of their parents.
I know I was not always the easiest child to take care of--strong willed and clogged up :-) -- and though we have fought many battles, I love you both deeply. There won't ever be a time that I could repay you [even in grandchildren] for the food you've fed me, the gas tanks you've filled, the games you've traveled to, the friends you've filtered out early for me, the vacations you've taken me on [that's a whole different letter, actually!], the unconditional love you've given, or the way in which you believed and trusted in the best of me, even after all the crap I pulled!
My friends always thought it was somewhat funny when dad would give mom a pat on the butt, or a kiss on the mouth, but I think Kali and I always took pride in seeing that affection. We always knew that your love was still present. Your example of a Godly marriage has made a lasting impact on me, and just as Brent and I poured those two jars of sand together, we know we cannot separate them, and we do not want to separate them because we've seen what beauty is in marriage after 30 years. Thank you for giving us that example.
Someday Brent and I will be fortunate enough to bring our children into this world, knowing they will have such loving and faithful people to call grandparents. I hope our children someday see the love I was able to see everyday in the rooms of our home-- I hope our children will be able to have confidence knowing their parents love each other with the strength of Christ, like I always knew.
When I look in the mirror I see a woman who has learned her life lessons between church pews, dinner table conversations, and bedtime stories and prayers with her parents.
And I thank you both for that reflection.
Love, Delsey Nae