Honor your father and your other
so that your life will be long on the fertile land
that Yahweh your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12)
Last weekend Eric and I had a houseful of family: sons Hans and Leif, daughter-in-law Beyza, and granddaughters Kysi and Clea. Despite the tenuous weather forecast, we turned the backyard into a weekend playground; badminton, corn-hole, and the girls’ new pink and purple playhouse provided hours of fun for everyone. Beyza and the boys took over the kitchen, creating wonderful meals using veggies from our garden. The garage was transformed into a game room for Hans and Leif’s War Hammer collection. And naturally, my mom Fran--91-year old family matriarch-- was there to just to sit and smile and take it all in!
With COVID19-related shutdowns lifted this past spring, my brothers and I decided it would be best for Mom to live near me, rather than five hours away in Park Rapids. So, during my two-week ‘vacation’, we moved her down to Rochester and got her settled into her new apartment at The Waters. Watching Mom finally hold her two great-granddaughters on her lap last weekend made the work of moving her worthwhile!
Many, many times during Mom’s move, she would say to me and my brothers, “How can I ever repay you for all that you have done? I could never have moved on my own!” Our response was to let her know that repayment wasn’t necessary, for we did it out of love. And, we reminded her, many years ago she did a lot to help her own parents out when they became elderly. Mom would end this exchange with, “Well, I hope that someday your own kids take care of you, too!”
The fifth of the Ten Commandments tells us to honor our parents. In biblical times, doing so could be a matter of life and death, for there was no such thing as Social Security or nursing homes. Having offspring ensured that when old age appeared and working was no longer an option, one’s children would provide food and shelter. For widows especially, having a son was essential in old age, for a woman without a husband who was past the age of bearing children had no control over her life.
For some who experienced parental abuse or neglect as a child, this commandment may evoke hurtful memories. I believe though, that this command to love one’s parents can expand to include any adult who offers unconditional love and care to a child. I have heard it said that it only takes one such adult to keep a child on the straight and narrow, providing a safe space for the wonder and joy and happiness of life to blossom and grow.
Whether through a birth parent or other loving adult, my prayer is that you have childhood memories of someone who loved and nurtured you as a beloved child of God!