Our parents are our role models for how to be a student, a sibling, a parent and a spouse. Our parents provide our first understanding of why people do and say the things they do, how to find the good and avoid the bad and how to be our best while managing our worst. They fill in the holes that school and church don’t address and reinforce the important parts like don’t fall asleep with gum in your mouth and always stand by your family. Parents teach us what love is, how it should feel, what it should look like and what it doesn’t look like. I thought my parents did this unaware, they were simply living their lives finding a way to get by. But now that I am a parent I know that every moment is a moment to show my kids what is love. They practiced great restraint to limit their fighting in front of us and although they weren’t the hugging and kissing kind their words and actions showed their love and respect for each other everyday. My Mom packed my Dad’s lunch every evening, the same lunch, everyday. There was always a warm meal, even in the mornings, and the kitchen was always clean. My Dad fixed the cars, mowed the lawn and refinished a room in our basement. He answered the mail and paid the bills. She made sure the plants were watered.
The invisible, the day to day, fulfilling the unasked.
49 years later, they commiserate on their aging while trying to understand my Dad’s new iPhone. She repeats what I say when my Dad can’t hear me and gives him a playful jab. And when I ask him to give her a kiss he scoffs then laughs. I did say they aren’t the hugging and kissing kind.
Sometimes hidden from me
in daily custom and in trust,
so that I live by you unaware
as by the beating of my heart,
Suddenly you flare in my sight,
a wild rose looming at the edge
of thicket, grace and light
where yesterday was only shade,
and once again I am blessed, choosing
again what I chose before.
“The Wild Rose” by Wendell Berry