One of my favorite things about a being a parent is having someone to listen to my accumulated trivia. Lately, I have reached the point in parenthood where my children are beginning to pose questions that sometimes stress my intellect. For instance, “Dad, what is manners?”
I usually try to give a clear and concise definitions.
“Well, manners are the principles that govern proper social behavior.” I replied.
I sat back in my chair and smiled, feeling satisfied with my quick thinking without consulting the dictionary.
A moment later the child asked, “Dad, what’s principles?”
This is what I mean by testing my intellect. I’m afraid their curiosity is about to outpace me. At any rate, I am going to attempt a more thorough answer to the original question, because some things require not only clarity, but elaboration.
Manners, best-beloved, are what my Mom and Dad taught me little by little and day by day about how to act around folks.
– Keep your elbows off the table
– Say ma’am and sir
– Keep your feet off the table
– Don’t talk with your mouth full
– Don’t interrupt someone
– Hold the door open for a lady
– Stand up and let a lady or an elder take your chair
– Don’t invite yourself anywhere
– Don’t cuss
– Use your blinker
– Cover your mouth when you cough, sneeze, or yawn
– Don’t smack (chewing with mouth open)
– Don’t ask someone how much money they make
– Don’t ask someone how much they paid for something
– Wipe your feet
– Don’t wear a hat indoors, unless you are a lady and the hat is classy
– Don’t yell inside
– Answer when someone speaks to you
– Don’t stare
– Don’t pick your nose
– Don’t take the last piece of chicken
– Don’t scratch
– Don’t spit
– Don’t reach over someone’s plate
– Don’t grab or snatch
– Don’t talk about gross things at the dinner table
– Don’t tell dirty jokes
– Don’t laugh at dirty jokes
Now this is not an exhaustive list, best-beloved, and we’ll add things as we come to them, but we have to start somewhere. If you follow these guidelines, when you come something you are unsure about you’ll probably make the right decision. Just do what your Mother would do and you’ll be ok.
“If you waited till you could afford to have kids you’d never have them.”
We are about to have another baby any day now.
“Are y’all ready?” I get asked this a lot.
I usually reply, “We think we are ready.”
It is sort of a funny question. Perhaps there are people that are adequately prepared to have another baby-it’s never been us. No one is ever truly prepared for a baby, you just get sufficiently prepared. The baby is coming whether you are prepared or not.
“If you waited till you could afford to have kids you’d never have them.”
If babies waited until parents were truly prepared, they’d never come. That’s part of what is wonderful about a baby. Babies come to disrupt the comfortable and organized lives of sweethearts-ready or not. And how wonderful are they when they get here?
There are many other wonderfully disruptive things in life that we may never truly be prepared for. Unlike babies, these things sometimes may be put off until a more convenient season. As a result, there are some things that will never happen if we wait until we are prepared. More often than is comfortable we are prepared for nothing, but nothing is not the best option.
It is a curious thing that we often have to make some of the most important decisions in our life when we are least prepared to make them. Career paths, spouses, and friends all come to mind.
“Anything worth doing is probably not going to be easy.”
How many times have I pushed back against an opportunity because I could not accurately predict how it would change my organized life? I’m ashamed to say.
No, I’m probably not prepared for this next baby, but I am ready.
Zach just called me and told me that you were unresponsive in the ICU. They are letting four of us come in and see you. I can’t come because I have COVID-19. So I’m writing you a letter.
Zach just called me and told me that you were unresponsive in the ICU. They are letting four of us come in and see you. I can’t come because I have COVID-19. So I’m writing you a letter. My sincere prayer is that you recover miraculously and get on to me for treating you like a dying person. Nevertheless, I think I will not regret this letter.
Since you’ve been sick I’ve missed talking to you on the phone every day after work. You helping me weave together how I’m related to all my relatives. Talking about food and recipes and getting hungry. Talking about Dad and laughing. Talking about church and rejoicing.
I’ll never forget the night that you pulled me aside crying after a couple friends from college, Sarah and Kelly, stopped by the house on their way back to St. Louis.
“Zane, every time I’ve dreamed that you got married, Sarah was the girl in my dreams.” You had never met Sarah before.
Sarah and I weren’t even dating at the time, but you sure got that one right. That hasn’t been then only time over the years that I’ve trusted your intuition, or rather your discernment, and come out the better for it. Thank you.
Some of my earliest memories are of you kneeling down in the chair and praying out loud in the living room while I played. It’s hard to cut up when you hear your mom praying. Thanks for letting me hear you pray when I was a teenager. Thank you for showing me how to pray fervently on my own and how to intercede.
Remember when Zach and I come to you one morning before school when we were little kids?
“Me and Zane been thinking. We want real food for breakfast.” Zach said as I stood there beside him in my big old glasses. He was the spokesman. Apparently pop-tarts or cereal were not cutting it. Both those things have never been able to satisfy me, even when you buttered the pop-tarts. From then on you made us bacon and eggs for breakfast. Or ham and cheese omelettes. Can anyone make a ham and cheese omelette like you? Or those sausage, egg, and cheese “Whop” biscuits. Or when times were tough, a piece of bologna with cheese and eggs on top, or a fried weenie. Thank you for feeding me real food.
You’ve always had a gift at making a place feel like home. And a way of making people feel welcome. And your food was always delicious. I think Lindsay has gotten a lot of that gift from you. I’m really proud of her. I’m sorry that Lindsay and I fought so much as children. She started it though. We really do love each other now. And we love you.
Thank you for loving Dad and showing us what a healthy marriage looks like. What I thought was a normal home-life turned out to be incredibly rare, and I cherish it dearly. It takes a lot character, integrity, and commitment for a marriage to last. You and Dad had what it took. Thank you both for giving us the best home that any parents could offer.
We went to Apostolic Truth Tabernacle in Talladega one time and Pastor Jimmy Huggins said, “I feel led in the Holy Ghost to tell somebody that your mom is your ace in the hole. Be nice to your mom, she’s got your back.” Do you remember that? I feel like he was talking directly to me. And he was right. I can’t begin to count all the times you’ve been in my corner. Thank you.
We thought we were going to lose you when Wesley was born.
“I had to fight a bear to keep your Momma at home. She wanted to come up here and see that baby so bad.” Dad said. We were all so worried about you when you were sick in 2015. But God took Dad first and raised you back up to give us five more years with you. I hope it does it again, but I trust it just the same.
Shall not the judge of all the Earth do right?
When Miriam came you were well enough to leave that morning, Christmas morning, and drive the eleven hours to hold her.
I think what me hurts me most is thought of Hollynn not getting to meet you. I’ll do my best to tell her how wonderful you and Poppy were, but I know words are going to fail. We’ll just try to love her as much as you would.
I know Zach and Linds used to tease you about me being your favorite child. Boy you sure did make me feel like I was your favorite. I guess thats a mother’s love: making all your kids feel like they are the most important.
I didn’t know that life would so full of death as an adult. I miss being a little kid and you being able to fix everything with a prayer and hug and a kiss. My heart is hurting right now.
I remember when Sarah and I lost our first baby. That’s about how bad I’m feeling right not thinking of losing you. You called me and quoted scripture.
“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”
I found great peace in that scripture. The longer I live the more I find answers for everything in the Word of God. Even so, there are still a lot of things I’m just going to have to understand better by and by.
We were talking about you the other day and the very real possibility that this may be the time when God decides to call you home. Zach, still the best spokesman, said, “Ultimately death doesn’t mean to God what it means to us.” I believe that with all my heart.
I Corinthians 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin in the law.
57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I’m going to miss you so much. I feel like a child who isn’t done having company, but it is time for the company to leave. I have so many plans for you and the kids. I will always love you.