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No Problem!
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My father-in-law turned 90 in April. He is still in good health. The run-up for his birthday included a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew his driver’s license.

Every Sunday he visits for Sunday dinner with my wife and I, whatever adult grandchildren (my sons) are in town that weekend, and his own son. While still a safe driver, he feels uncomfortable driving at night. So my brother-in-law picks him up so that my father-in-law does not have to drive home in the dark.

One Sunday a few months back, my brother-in-law stated that he would miss next Sunday’s meal. He would be traveling on business. That week my father-in-law proposed skipping the visit. We asked why, fearing he might not be feeling well.

“Someone will have to pick me up,” he explained, “and I don’t want to be a bother.”

A bother? He only lives two miles from us. Picking him up is a minor effort.  In fact, my son even drives by the place on his way to our home, so neither my wife nor I even need to go.

We probed a little further, worried that there might be some other reason, but no. He was convinced that any effort we spent to get him over to our house would be a bother.

Ninety Years of Experience

We consider his presence a privilege, not a bother. He is the man who raised my spouse, sheltering her from the world when she was too young to look after herself. He is our window to an older and different world. He has 90 years of experience for us to draw on.

At his age, every Sunday evening with him is a blessing, stolen from time. I know that the number of remaining Sundays we have to share are limited. Every Sunday that passes is one less Sunday we will share.  

My sons know that, too. It is a major reason they try to join us every Sunday. One son even drives 60 miles, one way virtually every Sunday to be here.

The fifth commandment states “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12).  It is the first commandment dealing with our relationship to others, coming immediately after those dealing with our relationship with God. This underscores this commandment’s importance. It is echoed throughout the Bible, in three of the Gospels and the letter of Paul to the Ephesians.

I do not consider myself selfish to cherish his presence while he is with us. Instead I begrudge the opportunities missed.

I understand the desire of people, however old, to remain independent. Yet sometimes their children and grandchildren desire nothing more than an opportunity to honor their parents by supporting them as they supported us.

Picking him up and bringing him to our house? No problem – rather an honor!

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By Mark N. Lardas. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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