That’s OK. My family knows I have a mind of my own and won’t be deterred by comments.
My parents have been married for many years. Don’t ask me exactly how many because I am bad at remembering dates.
All of those years weren’t easy. There were many ups and downs. Fortunately, the ups far outweighed the downs as my parents grew older. I like to contribute part of that to getting me out of the house. It seems as if my hand was glued to the button that shouldn’t be pushed.
I love both of my parents dearly. But for the years I lived at home and several after I left, my dad was a hard man. His expectations were high. More often than not, higher than I could ever meet.
He was a great provider. He was a great protector. He simply didn’t have an open emotional side. That wasn’t his way.
He was demanding. He expected 100 percent in everything I did. Anything less was unacceptable.
He also taught me to stand up against anything I thought was wrong and never back away from a fight. He toughened me through years of hard lessons. I didn’t understand it.
Mom was as gentle as he was tough. She was always there to offer comfort when she knew I was struggling. I wasn’t good at accepting her comfort. I thought it would make me weak.
Through it all, mom was the one praying with any regularity to keep our family together. Prayer changes things. It doesn’t change in our time. It changes in God’s time.
I saw my mom’s prayers answered about 25 years ago. Dad began to change.
The change was drastic. The man that I never saw shed a tear in all of my years growing up, suddenly became unashamed to openly cry when crying was called for.
He stayed home more. He went to church regularly. He had an emotional side.
It was one day that we were alone that things really came into perspective. Dad and I were having a conversation about something that I was hot about. I said some fairly harsh things that day on the phone to someone I was cross with. I will never forget hanging the phone up. Dad said, “What’s wrong with you? Why are you like that? You need to have more forgiveness for people.”
It dawned on me. I was what he once was. But after that conversation, I wished I was what he had turned in to. It hasn’t happened yet. Maybe it never will.
But I left their house that day knowing that God had answered my mom’s prayers. She deserved it. I left there that day thankful for my parents and where their journey had ultimately led them. I also left there that day with an emptiness of knowing that it would take a lot for me to ever reach that place my dad had reached emotionally.
My dad has been in the nursing home for about five years. He can’t call us by name. But Mom sits with him about six hours a day every single day. She makes sure his every need is met.
This situation has placed me in a position to have to make some hard decisions. Those decisions have to be made objectively and without emotion. Mom can’t do that. My brother has a houseful of family. Making those unemotional decisions is my job.
I couldn’t do what I have to do now if Daddy had been easy on me. He had me well prepared. Somehow, I think he knows he prepared me for it.
There have been several women that have treated me like a son. There is Kathy Johnson, Linda Groves, Doris Saxon, Shirley Williams, Pat Garrison, Jean Goss, Juanita Hendrix, Loretta Pettit, to name a few. I love and appreciate them all.
But nobody loves us like our mama. And my mama just happens to be one that stayed by her family through good and bad. She prayed that God would move in our lives and He has.
I can hope to one day to have a spouse like my mom and the others I mentioned. Happy Mother’s Day to you all.
Chris Collett is a lifelong resident of Cherokee County.