Family

Category Archives: Family

I’d much rather have known my father

George Mallory is the famous mountain climber who died attempting to reach the peak of Mount Everest, and may well have been the first person to reach the peak. But the pursuit of his dream took a toll on his family. In the introduction to the book Last Climb, George’s son John, who is was just three years old when his father perished, speaks of both his pride at what his father achieved and sadness. He wrote “I would so much rather have known my father than to have grown up in the shadow of a legend, a hero, as some people perceive him to be.”

Wayne Bennett

Wayne Bennett is one of the most successful coaches in rugby league history. For over a decade he coached the “Brisbane Bronco’s” (a club side in the Australian rugby league competition). Bennett is revered by players, notoriously difficult for journalists, and widely admired and respected. In 2002 he released a book Don’t Die With the Music In You. Present at the launch were News Limited Director, Lachlan Murdoch, Australian cricket captain Steve Waugh, and a host of rugby league identities and corporate heavyweights. Yet when speaking of his greatest success in life he turned not to his achievements in football but to his home life. Bennett paid tribute to his wife Trish, saying “One of the greatest achievements is to be able to stay married to her, and I hope for the rest of my life that will remain my greatest achievement. It is the thing I want more than anything else. I want the relationship to be there forever and the relationship with my family to be there forever.”

Source: reported in The Sydney Morning Herald May 8, 2002

The Greatest Moment

Marian Anderson was one of the great contralto singers of all time. An African-American born in Philadelphia USA, she was acclaimed across the world. Perhaps the most well remembered episode from her career was the occasion in 1939 when she was refused permission to sing in Washington’s Constitution Hall because of her race. The venue was shifted to a public forum, the steps of Washington’s Lincoln statue, where on Easter Sunday 75,000 people turned out to hear her sing. Toward the end of her career Anderson was asked by a reporter to name her greatest moment in life. She had many possibilities to select from – that Easter Sunday singing to 75,000 people, the night Toscanini told her she possessed the finest voice of the century, the concert she gave at the White House for President Roosevelt and the King and Queen of England. But none of these were Marian Anderson’s greatest moment. Marian told the reporter that the greatest moment of her life was the day she went home and told her mother she wouldn’t have to take in washing anymore.

Sources: Biography.com and Alan Loy McGinnis, The Friendship Factor.

The Gift of Us

Marjorie Tallcott was married and had one child during the Great Depression. The family managed to scrape their way through, but as Christmas approached one year Marjorie and her husband were disappointed that they would not be able to buy any presents. A week before Christmas they explained to their six year old son, Pete, that there would be no store-bought presents this Christmas. “But I’ll tell you what we can do” said Pete’s father, “we can make pictures of the presents we’d like to give to each other.”

That was a busy week. Marjorie and her husband set to work. Christmas Day arrived and the family rose to find their skimpy little tree made magnificent by the picture presents they had adorned it with. There was luxury beyond imagination in those pictures- a black limousine and red speedboat for Dad, a diamond bracelet and fur coat for mum, a camping tent and a swimming pool for Pete.

Then Pete pulled out his present, a crayon drawing of a man, a woman and a child with their arms around each other laughing. Under the picture was just one word: “US”.

Years later Marjorie writes that it was the richest, most satisfying Christmas they ever had.

It took a present-less Christmas to remind Marjorie and her family that the greatest gift we can ever offer is ourselves, our presence. This too is the great gift that Christ offers us, not only at Christmas but throughout the year – himself. If he was to draw a gift perhaps it would be just like Pete’s: three people with their arms around each other laughing – human community with Christ at the centre.

Source: Reported in Illustrations Unlimited

Ask Him About His Childhood

“You have no idea what this has meant to me. All these years I never thought you were even interested in what I had to say,” the old man told them.
It’s my get away. You heard me mention it before. My favorite restaurant for a good old clog your heart breakfast of eggs, home fries, and bacon. Oh yes. Whole wheat toast to make it healthy.

I find the most incredible people and stories in restaurants. Think about it. It’s your family dinner table removed from your kitchen and placed in a public area. Like home, but better. Somebody else is cooking and doing the dishes.

So scattered all around me are families having dinner, friends catching up with the latest news, business meetings and people like me just there to relax. Oh, of course. Great conversation.

Except in the booth across from me. Silence.

When I first sat down there two men sitting together quietly. One man appeared to be in his thirties. He was dressed in some old work clothes and still wearing his baseball cap. The other man I would guess was about 80. He had the most incredible face. The lines and creases gave him character. His white hair was messy from wearing a stocking cap he held on top of the table. He wore one of those red plaid shirt jackets that you might see on a construction worker. Heavy enough to keep you warm while you’re moving about, but not too bulky to limit your movement.

But he didn’t look like he was going any where. Neither was this conversation.

“Boy, I really worked up a hunger today, Pop. All that shoveling and sweeping the snow will do that,” the younger man said.

“Yeah, this is somethin’,” replied the old man.

Silence followed for the longest time.

Suddenly I heard the young man say, “Here they come,” as he pointed toward the doorway.

He almost looked relieved. Somebody who would join in and help get this conversation going.

It appeared to me that the two people who joined them were a mother and teenage grandchild. The woman sat next to the younger man and Pop stood up to let the grandchild slide in place.

“Hello, Dad. Good to see you!” she said as she sat down.

“Yep!” the old man replied.

Silence. Even longer gaps than before.

“I feel real good,” the old man said proudly.

“Oh, you look good Dad,” the younger man said. Then one by one the others agreed.

Silence.

The waitress approached and took their breakfast orders.

Grandpa excused himself. “Gotta go to the bathroom. It happens a lot when you’re old,” he said.

As soon as he was out of sight, the younger man said, “God, I don’t know what to say to him. We just sit here looking around. He never talks.”

“I know what you mean. God what do you say?” the woman added.

“He’s old. What do you talk about with an old man?” the kid joined in.

Oh, no. Here I go. I can’t just sit here and listen to this. I’m going to say something, swallow hard and wait to see if they tell me it’s none of my business.

“Ask him about his childhood,” I said as I continued eating.

“What? Pardon me? Were you talking to us, sir?” the woman asked.

“Yes. It’s really not my business, I know. But do you realize what he has to offer you? Can you even begin to understand what this man has seen in his lifetime? He most likely has answers to problems you haven’t even discovered as problems in your life. He’s a gold mine!” I said.

Silence again.

“Look, talk to him about his childhood. Ask him what the snows were like back then. He’ll have a million stories to share. He’s not talking because no one is asking,” I told them.

Just then he came walking around the corner.

“Oh, boy. I feel much better now. You know I haven’t been goin’ good in a while,” the old man told them.

They all turned and looked at me. I shrugged my shoulders. Okay. So old people also talk about the facts of life. And going or not going is a major thing when you’re old. You take the good with the bad.

After a long silence the young girl said, “Paw Paw. When you were a kid were the snows this bad?”

“Gees, honey. This is nothing like the snows I had when I was a kid. Did I ever tell you about the snow storm that covered my house?” he asked.

“No, Pop. I don’t think I ever heard that one myself,” said the younger man.

Now for the next twenty minutes the old man was in his glory. At one point he even stood up to show them how high the one snow drift was. Throughout the entire meal everyone chimed in with more questions. They laughed and he lit up like he was on stage and the play he was acting in was his life story.

Just as I was about to leave I heard the old man say, “You have no idea what this has meant to me. All these years I never thought you were even interested in what I had to say.”

“Oh….. well, I guess we just didn’t think you wanted to talk,” the woman said.

“Well nobody bothered to ask me anything. I just figured I was boring or somethin. It’s been a tough life you know. Ever since Ma Ma died I really had nothing to say.” He paused for a moment. I could see him nervously wringing his rough life worn hands together.

“You see, her and I were like a song. I made the music and she…she was the words,” he said.

Like tough guys of his time are supposed to do, he held back any visible emotion, sniffled and wiping his eye he said, “No sense talkin’ if you ain’t got the words.”

As I turned to walk away I looked across the table. I saw the young girl wave and smile at me as she put her arm around Paw Paw’s shoulders.

She didn’t have to say a word.

Source: Bob Perks © 2001. Used with permission

Can I Buy Some of Your Time

A businessman who worked very long hours arrived home one evening to find his 7 year old son waiting for him at the door. “Daddy?”

“Yeah?” replied the man.

“Daddy, how much money do you make an hour?

“Well son, I don’t really think that’s any business of yours” the man said.

“Please daddy, please tell me, how much do you make an hour?” pleaded the little boy.

“If I tell you, you must promise you won’t tell anybody else”

“I promise” said the little boy.

“Alright then” said his father. “I make $150.00 an hour.”

“Oh,” the little boy replied. He looked a little sad, then said “Daddy, may I borrow $20.00 please?”

His father was furious. “If the only reason you wanted to know how much money I make is so you can borrow some you can go straight off to bed!”

The little boy burst into tears and made his way to his room. After an hour or so the father had calmed down and went to his son’s room. “I’m sorry for being so hard on you earlier son. If you tell me what you wanted the $20 for and it’s a worthwhile thing I’ll think about giving it to you.”

The little boy ran across the room to his piggy bank and counted out all it’s contents, exactly $130.00.

“$130.00, that’s a lot of money son. Surely that’s enough for what you wanted to buy” said the father.

“Well with the $20 you’ll give me it will be” the little boy replied.  “I’d like to buy an hour of your time.”