My father has been gone for almost a quarter of a century. Life has come full circle so that I’m almost the age he was when he died. I have three adult children and five grandchildren. I have a brother who is two-and-half years older than me and one aunt on my mom’s side of the family but other than that, everyone else is younger than me.
It’s definitely a different perspective when you’re looking down the age line at the younger generation than when you were looking up at the older generation. The axis of your world has tilted. For the most part it is wonderful—the persistent demands of parenting children have been replaced by the glorious “demands” of being a grandparent. (There is a reason they call it “grandparenting”). But even though I’m really enjoying this period of my life, I still find myself thinking about my parents. Despite all the years that have passed, there’s still something I profoundly miss in regard to them.
When you’re the top branch of the tree, the sun shines the hottest on you. When you’re covered by a higher layer of branches though, it’s not so bad. There’s always the shade that they provide. I think that’s the way it is in regard to parents. They are the top branch of the tree. When you need to, you can always look to them and find shade and there’s nothing else on this earth that is quite like that. I suppose that’s the way our parents felt in regard to their parents and every generation before them felt.
Parents have such a profound influence on their children that I’m not sure it can be overstated. We all heard the sad stories of children who were abused and the horrific scars that were left. But it works the other way as well; good parents can provide a lifetime of wonderful memories for their children. I know mine did. And I think that’s what I am nostalgic for—the joy of once again being a branch underneath them.
They shape us in so many ways. I now look in the mirror and see quite a bit of my mother and grandfather staring back at me. Our oldest daughter has many of the mannerisms of my mother even though she never spent a lot of time around her. And I have quite a few of my father’s traits as well. I’m a branch growing off the limb of my parents.
Since all of these things are true, it is incumbent upon us as parents and grandparents to do everything we can to point our children and grandchildren in heaven’s direction. Our words are wonderful but our example is what really sticks. After all, we remember what our parents told us but we especially remember whether they practiced it or not.
The time we have here on this earth goes by quickly but our Father’s plan is for us to be together for eternity. We can’t control everything—but we can make a big difference in the lives of our family.
Hopefully, it will be an eternal difference.