The last few weeks were like a roller coaster for me as the year rolled on past significant birthdays and anniversaries.
First . . .
The date of my mother’s birthday in late January – a quiet day which rarely rates a mention, but is always silently remembered by us four sisters.
Soon after . . .
My birthday in early February, followed by the anniversary of my mother’s death only a week later. About 10 days after that, arrived a personal glass ceiling for me ever since my mother died: the day when I equalled the age she reached on her final day.
I know many people experience this barrier – it is impossible to imagine what your life might look like after you reach the age that your mother died (for daughters), or your father died (for sons). As a primary relationship, your role model simply no longer exists after that date.
That day was a milestone for me
It brought a day of both reflection and amazement – I had made it in full health and happiness! Remarkably the day closed with a chance phone call from my lovely stepmother, who had no idea how perfect her timing was. It was good to share my thoughts with her.
With all this reflection and awareness, it made sense to visit the place where my mother’s ashes are buried. I planned a trip from Hobart across to Melbourne a few months ago, unaware of how important it would become. I am not really the sentimental type, and only once before have I visited the cemetery. To be honest, I am happy to remember my Mum anywhere, and don’t have a need to go and visit. But it seemed fitting to see this place, and take some time to remember her life, especially given my recent glass ceiling breakthrough.
I asked my eldest sister to come with me
I would have asked my other sisters also, but they do not live in Melbourne. More than a decade separates us two, and I often feel like the kid sister in many of our interactions, but this was a good way of connecting a little more deeply than usual. It was only later that I realised how unusual it was for me to take the initiative.
We arrived at Springvale Botanical Cemetery and the memories flooded back. The day of Mum’s funeral, and cremation service afterwards, are forever etched in my mind. It is a beautiful place, and it struck me how this is a special place of reverence, honour and respect for those who have gone on ahead.
After making some enquiries, we found the specific rose garden and searched for the plaque, engraved in our mother’s memory. We had a beautiful rose with us which we placed in the space provided. And we remembered. Standing there quietly in those peaceful surrounds, we reflected on Mum’s life, recalling a few incidents over those days, so long ago.
Tears were shed.
The world stopped for a moment.
On the way back to the car, she said,
“It’s lovely to be here with you today. Sometimes, it seems like you are so much older and wiser.”
I quickly responded with equally loving words. But it occurred to me that perhaps I am changing. Perhaps this journey of honouring my mother, even so long after her death, brings me to a point of maturity and self-awareness I have not known before.
Stephen reminded me later . . .
My husband, Stephen, is so good at helping me keep things in perspective! He reminded me about one of the Ten Commandments, given by God to Moses when the Israelites were setting out on their journey to the Promised Land. It says this. . .
“Honour your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Deu 5:16 (NIV)
And then many years later in his letter to the church at Ephesus, the Apostle Paul re-wrote that command and added a little editorial comment . . .
“Honour your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Eph 6:2, 3 (NIV)
Ohhh! Of course. It’s a promise!
God says to us, each one,
“If you do this, then I will do that.”
If you honour your parents, you will receive blessing. Things will go well. Long life will come.
It does not mean the opposite is true. My mother died young, but not because she did not honour her parents. This world is broken and fallen, and things like cancer take hold, which is awful, but no one’s “fault”.
While she did die too soon, I know my mother did honour her parents, because her “life was prolonged”, which is how the Amplified Bible translates the words given to Moses. I know that. Her life was extended. She did last longer than expected. That is part of another story.
So, here are my reminders for you today:
- The Promise: It is good to honour your parents – don’t forget about that promise! Life, wisdom and good things come from honouring.
- The Difficulty: Perhaps you feel it is too hard to honour one, or both, of your parents?
- Maybe you don’t feel that they did much for you – but let me remind you they did give you life, which is something to be grateful for.
- Perhaps you find them hard to honour because they are no longer with you? However, I think I have shown it is possible to do that, no matter how long they have been gone. Even if it is simply with thoughts and words.
- I know there are those who struggle with elderly parents, requiring so much love, care and attention. It can be very difficult. But I also know God sustains, God knows, God understands. Lean into him. He will give you strength, ideas, and solutions to honour your parents that you didn’t know were there. Just ask him.
- The Problem: Does honouring your parents mean agreeing with them? Well, no. Perhaps you have confused honouring with saying “YES” all the time. And that’s not what is means.
To honour means to give respect. To listen carefully, and consider what they say. But this does not imply you must do as they say. If you truly cannot agree with them, let them know in as respectful way as you can, and make your own decisions with a clear conscience. Then don’t bad mouth them or put them down.
That’s how things will go well with you, and you will live longer.
You can listen to me talk about this here >>>