Memories, messy lives and God


Chuck Tabor - Contributing columnist



I’ve been thinking a lot lately about moms and dads.

Over the past several weeks, we have celebrated both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, holidays which naturally bring to mind our thoughts of our parents and parenthood.

In addition, we have also celebrated Memorial Day and Flag Day, two holidays which quite naturally evoke feelings of patriotism and family memories.

Social media during these times is flooded with pictures and commemorative articles pointing to the contributions which our fathers and mothers, our grandparents, and a myriad of others have made in the fight to gain and preserve the freedoms to which, in these days, we so tenuously cling.

In thinking about my mother and father, two memories rush to forefront of my thinking.

The first is that moment when my mother was being dismissed from a rehab care unit and was going to live with my younger sister until she could find an assisted living facility nearby to call home. One of the last people to stop by to see her before she left the facility was her hairdresser. And as the three of us – yes, I was there! – sat in the lounge visiting, my mother, in her own inimitable way, simply blurted out to her friend, “You know, I’m losing my mind!”

Both of our jaws dropped – mine and her hairdresser’s!

It was not a mad or sad or sarcastic statement made in frustration or anger. It was simply a declaration of fact. She had been told she had some dementia, and she was letting one of her best friends know! That statement was verified just a few moments after this encounter when my mother returned to the room in the rehab facility which she had occupied for the past four weeks.

Her sole purpose in re-entering that room was to say good-bye to her roommate. My mother not only said good-bye, but also thanked her roommate for sharing her most beautiful home with her for these weeks.

My mother really thought she was a house guest in the home of this woman!

The second memory is of my Dad’s last Christmas with us.

My bride and I were living in Texas while I was completing my graduate degree at a seminary there. We could not make the trip to Ohio over the holidays, so my Mom and Dad had determined that they would do whatever they could to celebrate in Texas with us.

As it turned out, my whole family came to Texas that Christmas. My Mom, Dad, and younger brother came from Ohio. My older sister and her husband joined us from the other side of the state of Texas. My younger sister and her family came from Georgia. There were 13 of us in all. And we all could not easily fit into our two-bedroom apartment!

But fortunately, one of my classmates was planning to be out of town over the holidays and welcomed our whole family to stay in their four bed-room home. We celebrated Christmas, using their tree and decorations and had a wonderful time together.

I will never forget my Dad opening up one of his presents that Christmas. My sisters and I had commissioned a painting for him specifically that year. My Dad was an avid golfer, and we had asked an artist friend of mine to paint a picture of a 19th hole, complete with the green and sand traps surrounding it, and a wonderful pint and flag decked out with the Ohio State University logo.

But what made this painting so special was the “canvas” – it was painted on a toilet seat! When my father opened that rather large package and saw what was inside, he burst out with the deepest belly laugh I have ever heard from him I have never seen him so wrapped in guffaws!

He opened and re-opened that lid on that toilet seat again and again and each time he rolled on the floor laughing! I will never forget how happy he was that day and the days to follow. Although I did not see it until about seven months later when I returned to Ohio for his memorial service, he took that toilet seat back to Ohio and promptly placed it in his bathroom.

Although those memories of Mom and Dad are fun and fond ones, there are many more which could be labelled “profound”.

But the one thing I know, and you know of yours as well, our parents were not perfect. We could spend hours relating episode after episode of situations where our parents made mistakes.

But, may I suggest, that in spite of their inadequacies and imperfections, God used them both mightily in my life.

But God using imperfect people is nothing new, is it? It does not take a biblical scholar to see that.

Even a cursory reading of the Bible will reveal how God used people who were liars (Abraham), connivers and schemers (Jacob), murderers (Moses), adulterers (David), thieves – even legal ones (Matthew, the tax collector!), and blasphemers and zealots (Paul the Apostle) – just to name a few.

If God can use the likes of these messed-up people and their messy lives to accomplish his plan and his purpose on earth, then I am confident he can use our moms and dads – and us too! – to do what he would do in the here and now!

Your memories of your Mom and Dad may not be humorous or profound. In fact, you may not have any memories of them at all, but God has used them in their imperfections to give you life and to call you to honor him in whatever you do!

All He asks of you is that you turn to Him, and then give Him credit for using imperfect people to accomplish His perfect will!

To God be the glory!

God bless…

Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at cdtabor3@gmail.com.

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Chuck Tabor

Contributing columnist