“If I had known I was going to meet Mark when I was in my thirties I would have enjoyed my twenties a lot more!” Monica told me that this off-the-cuff comment by her Aunt Tracy stabilized her. It gave her hope when, as an early twenty-something herself, Monica was discouraged. She had lots of great friends who were guys, but not an inkling of the man she would marry and spend her entire life with. That prospect changed very quickly just a couple of short years further into those early twenties, but that will be another (wonderful!) story.
Today I want to talk about the fact that my adorable sister-in-law, Tracy, even had that conversation with Monica. I want to talk about the countless hours of conversation, the sought-after advice, and the listening ear my three kids got from about a dozen very special people who cheered them on, hugged them, and just loved them.
Yesterday John and I received many “high-fives” and congratulations as David graduated from college with so much to show for his life besides an honors GPA.
We accepted the handshakes and hugs and said “Thank you” and we did look at each other a few times with proudly beaming smiles – “Well done, co-parent!”
But we had a long and very serious conversation about how much we owe to other people. People who loved and mentored our kids, who talked to them when they were not in a place to hear from us.
My brother, Uncle Brian, has been Matthew’s buddy and confidant his whole life. He was Matthew’s “father figure” for the few years I was widowed and single.
And Dave Perata, who taught Matthew his first electrician lessons, instilled in him a godly work ethic and encouraged him to go to school and get his journeyman’s certification.
My precious friend Geigy, who is somewhere between Monica’s and my age, has been Monica’s lifelong mentor and girlfriend. I know they have had hundreds of hours of crying and hugging and long, long talks. I’ll never know most of what they talked about, but I know that Geigy pointed Monica to the right spiritual track when my darling daughter was physically and mentally rolling her eyes at a good deal of my wise motherly counsel.
David’s youth pastor and life-long friend, Jeremiah, spent time with him week after week, “discipling” and doing a bible study that continued for years.
Yesterday at David’s graduation party, as we talked about how fast the time passed, my friend Sandy recalled the time she took a very young David horseback riding and then to Taco Bell. (“I made the mistake of telling him to order whatever he wanted!)
I know I’ll forget someone. I don’t even know everyone who has spoken into my kids’ lives. But I’m glad you did. We thank you.
I still have not met the Nix family, who opened their home to Monica when she was in college on the other side of the country. They became family to her and they did something John and I could never do. They taught her taxidermy. So Monica was able to stuff and mount the buck David shot a few years ago.
And finally, how can I talk about David shooting a buck without thanking the Lord for all the hunting trips, the hours of driving, and tramping conversation David has had with Grandpa Frank. I could spend a whole page raving about the encouragement and supportive love and advice all three of our kids have received from their grandparents – the stability of family and tradition.
I close this chapter, and it feels so unfinished. I thank God for our three kids and where they have been and where he is taking them. I thank God for all of those who have come alongside of us and helped our kids know the truth of Jeremiah 29:11, “ For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”