Thursday, October 4, 2007

An Offering of Love


Jennifer over at "Et Tu" threw down an awesome group-writing challenge to her readers:


What are three things your parents did right?


The following anecdotal accounts communicate a few of the little ways my parents did it right, unassuming and without much fanfare, day by day. They did (and still do) understand parenting as a ministry centered primarily around lived example, service and sacrifice...

My life was profoundly altered one night, when my dad pulled me aside at my high school graduation and, gravely taking me by the shoulders, assured me that there was nothing I could do with my life that would disappoint him as long as I kept my faith. No amount of financial success, no recognitions or achievements, nothing but an abiding perseverance in the Lord and fidelity to His Church was necessary to earn his paternal pride.

Fast forward 4 or 5 Christmases down the road, and I'm home from college, an unruly undergrad who's not exactly "walking the walk" day in and day out. Over cigars one evening, sitting on our back porch in silence and snowfall, I speak up, reminding my dad of his charge to me on the eve of graduation. I ask him if he's disappointed that I haven't always stayed on the path he set before me, the straight and narrow that both he and my mom strove by lived example to point their seven children down.

Here's where things get really poignant...

He didn't remember. Thoughtfully puffing on his Christmas cigar, (a proud Senour family tradition) he quizzically tipped his head to the side and asked, "sweetie, what are you talking about?"

I'm floored. This is a pivotal life moment, an echoing commandment that has reverberated in my heart and soul since the moment it left his lips. And he doesn't remember saying it.

That's the funny thing though, my parents were always dropping little gems of wisdom, otherworldly proverbs from another time, perhaps unaware that at any given moment they were building up our characters, shaping our very souls. I think they did know, though. I think the practice of parenting was so integrated into their existence that the love and wisdom they wished to impart to us naturally poured out in their daily lives, blessing us by word and action.

My mom blessed us early in the morning, brewing coffee for herself and pouring boxes of cereal and gallons of milk for her bus-missing, back-talking progeny, never wearying (at least visibly) of our complaints about missing hair scrunchies and other mysteriously absent wardrobe items (my dad referred to our practice of "borrowing" one another's clothes as "sister shopping")

My dad blessed us each evening, when, returning home after a long commute, he made it a point to kiss my mom hello, though he was occasionally interrupted by one of us squeezing in between them for a coveted "only child" hug.

Together my parents blessed us when, at ages 43, they welcomed my youngest brother Patrick into the world in the face of tremendous medical and financial hardship, and in spite of massive amounts of criticism from family, friends, and relative strangers. In a world which is so vehemently antichild, my parents were pro-life in the fullest sense, offering everything for their family.
I'm happy to report that after more than 25 years of marriage and countless reluctant decades of family rosaries, all seven of us are still on board and still making mom and dad proud, at least in the ways that count.

9 comments:

  1. Wow. REALLY touching. Thank you so much for writing this.

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  2. Nice story. I think I'd really like your parents.

    I have posted a story too.

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  3. I really like your post. Your parents sound great.

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  4. This is a great post.

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  5. Wow! Thanks for sharing this story with us. I'm a Catholic convert. Your parent's example has encouraged me to aim high & follow the Holy Family more closely in my own work as a Mother.

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  7. Can we set up an inconspicuos rendezvous with Dan Cassidy and Ken Senour Sr. on the next 'Monumental' occasion? I would love for your wonderful father to provide spiritual counsel to my wonderful husband.

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  8. "...there was nothing I could do with my life that would disappoint him as long as I kept my faith. No amount of financial success, no recognitions or achievements, nothing but an abiding perseverance in the Lord and fidelity to His Church was necessary to earn his paternal pride."

    Wow. Just visiting from "Et tu?" to read your contribution in her writing challenge. I must tell you I have officially "stolen" this nugget of wisdom from your dad to use on my own three when the time comes! Pls thank your father for me! And God bless you. You have your act together, that is for sure. :)

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