Suite Memories


In my book Family Squeeze, I tell of the time we found ourselves wedged between children and aging parents. My dad was picking out hearing aids while my kids were strapping on headphones and cranking up the volume. Nothing prepares you for this in high school, but we tried to do the next right thing.

One afternoon my wife and I met my parents at an ice cream shop. We’d had something on our minds awhile. Mom takes dainty sips of hot water and lemon. Dad eats his favorite: ice cream. They talked of who would cut their grass and clean their house. I interrupted.

“We’d like you to come live with us” I said. “We’ll put a nice suite in our house for you.”

Dad took Mom’s hand. Smiles and laughter had been on vacation. They were back. We pulled out house plans. “We’ll only need one bedroom,” Dad promises. His eyes were dancing, which was pretty good for a Baptist.

A few thought we’d lost our minds, but friends were supportive. “My parents wouldn’t live with us if a tornado leveled their place,” joked one. “Maybe during the millennial kingdom when the lion lies down with the lamb.”

Mom helped us plant a garden. Dad helped paint a fence. They assisted with our fledgling book business, with proofreading and mailing, busy with things they loved.  At night our son Jeff tapped on their door and went in for a good night hug. Rachael read to them. Steve watched hockey with grandpa. We loved those days.

Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and we believed that encompassed doing unto our parents as we would one day want our kids to do to us.

We had no idea that difficult times lay ahead (more on that in an upcoming blog), but that’s life, isn’t it? We follow God; we’re a little wobbly, so we pray, we trust, we take the next step.  Proverbs 3:6 was a help:

“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Mom and Dad often told us, “These are the best years of our lives.” For us, they were challenging years, too. Yet we found that God gives light for the next step, and laughter too. It’s a welcome tonic when your kids are considering tattoos while your dad is pulling on plaid suspenders and high black knee socks.

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