Today I recall some of the things they taught me, lessons first learned and best remembered when they spring from the lives of people I respect.
- No matter what you're going through, this too shall pass.
- Don't sweat the small stuff. It's only STUFF.
- Only what's done for Christ will last.
- When you go outside this house, act like somebody.
- Don't forget your raising.
- If you're over 21 and over 100 pounds, you can make up your own mind.
- They can take everything you've got, but they can't take your spirit unless you give it to them.
- You're never too old for me to turn you over my knee!
- Guard your good name. Without a good name, nothing else is worth much.
- When you give your word, you see it through.
- A tithe is only a starting place, not the finish line. Everything we have is God's.
- "Yes, I'm the meanest mother in town. Thank you very much."
- If we don't have it, it must mean we don't need it.
- It's all in the Lord's hands.
- Grandchildren are the heritage of old men.
- Healthy kids around your dinner table--It doesn't get any better.
- If God gave you talents, He expects you to use them for Him.
- Don't show up at Heaven's gate empty-handed.
In addition to teaching me how to live, my parents taught me how to die. Each of them battled rapidly advancing cancers, only two years apart. Still in their sixties, it was tempting to cling to life, demanding healing, hysterical with disappointment.
Instead, they approached death with humor and a calmness that gave the rest of us strength. "It's all in the Lord's hands," my mom would tell her doctors as they struggled to give her news they were sure would devastate her. Often it was she who comforted them as they told her how sorry they were that there was nothing they could do.
My dad languished two months, bedridden in the hospital, trying to die. Yet he always had a cheerful word and a sweet "Thank you" for the nurses, orderlies, even the night janitors who entered his room. It was the nurses who cried the day his spirit left his body.
I believe it is only those who've learned how to live who can show us how to die. I only hope I do half as well when my time comes.