It’s been quite a week. Last weekend, my 94 year old Mother in Law, who had lived with my wife and I for the past 3 ½ years, died, and went to be with the Lord. Then, along comes the tragic mass murder in Charleston. And, finally, along comes Fathers Day. What a mix of thoughts and emotions to reflect upon.
How to sort it out? What kind of a message can you get from three seemingly unrelated events? Is it worth the time and effort, to link these together, and try to make some sense of it all?
I don’t know, but I’m going to give it my best shot. If nothing else, you may get a better sense of how my warped, twisted mind works.
My Mother in Law was one of those individuals who just got sweeter, mellower, and easier to live with as she got older. She never had very many of life’s advantages. Born and raised in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl, her early life story could have come straight out of ‘The Grapes of Wrath’. Eight children; two marriages; widowed for the last 30 years of her life; worked in the shipyards in Portland, Oregon during WWII, her only experience working outside the home in the last 70 years of her life. She never had a drivers license, yet was fiercely independent all of her life.
From the time she was widowed in 1985, until the day after Christmas in 2011, at age 91, when she came from Jefferson, Oregon, to Anchorage, Alaska, to live with us, she lived on her own. Bought and paid for her own small home at age 65, gardened, and walked over a mile to get her mail and groceries, until she was no longer physically able. Didn’t always make the best decisions in life, but despite having to survive on less than $1,200 a month, she never asked for or received any public benefits, including Medicaid, until the last couple of years of her life, when we finally convinced her to go see a doctor, something she hadn’t done in 50 years! A rare, dying breed.
Just a few days after the passing of my sweet, precious Mother in Law, the next thing I hear about in the news is the horrible tragedy that occurred in the historic church building in Charleston, S.C. So many odd twists are being made in this story by individuals across this great country of ours. Nine, apparently sweet, loving, compassionate, caring Christian brothers and sisters of mine, murdered, while studying the Bible and trying to express the love of the Lord to a very obviously confused, troubled young man who had invited himself into their midst.
Nothing is right about this story. I’ll admit, I don’t know the whole story. I haven’t ‘devoured’ every stitch of ‘news’ being propagated by the various ‘news agencies’ across the United States. Apparently, he came from a very troubled, broken home, where his biological mother and father were literally at war with each other. A prescription for disaster. A prescription that is far too common in the times we are now living in. Honestly, with the epidemic proportions of single parent households, bitter divorces, and the resulting bitter, broken children that are the result, all too often, I’m surprised that we have as few instances of mass murder such as occurred in Charleston, as we have.
I heard President Obama at his news conference, shortly after this tragedy, and although I wasn’t surprised, I’ll have to say that I was disappointed. With all of the obvious factors in this tragedy available to focus on; broken homes, broken hearts, broken lives, illegal drug abuse, racial and cultural hatred, the ugliness of sin and evil, the contrasting beauty of Christian love and forgiveness; what did our President choose to focus on, in this time of sorrow? Gun Control.
Gun Control. Of all the factors that came to play out in this tragic situation, where evil seemingly triumphed, but where love and forgiveness came to rule the day, what did our President chose to focus on? An inanimate object. A firearm, with no will of its own.
To me, that is incredibly illogical. Indefensible. Sadly, in these times that we are living in, it is a far too common response. Don’t blame the individual. Don’t assign personal responsibility for making a choice that should never be considered by anyone, anywhere, for any reason. Blame a common object, an object that many of us use on a daily basis, but would never think of misusing. Our President uses his Right to Free Speech, to advocate for the abrogation of all of our Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Incredible, that a man with views like these ever attained the high office of the Presidency of these United States.
And then along came Father’s Day. A relaxing day spent at home with my wife of 38 years, if she’ll put up with me for another few days this week. June 25th will be our 38th wedding anniversary. We spent Saturday visiting my eldest daughter, her husband and 3 children, our grandchildren; my widowed mother; and my sister-in-law. I thought about all of the ‘fathers’, in my life: my own father; my wife’s father; my son, who is the father of four of my grandchildren; and my three daughters’ husbands, fathers of my other four grandchildren.
Any biological man can conceivably ‘father’ a child. Every one of those men who I mentioned in the previous paragraph, though, took the challenge of being a real father seriously. It takes a commitment to be a real father. It takes time, and it takes personal sacrifice. I am proud to be related to each of these men. When I despair to see how far this world has fallen, all I have to do is look at these fathers in my life, and I am once more filled with faith, hope, and love. Our Father in Heaven is still in control, and with a father like that as an example for us, if we will only follow Him, we’ll be OK.
Until next time, may the good Lord Bless you richly in all that you do.