Who ever knew these holidays, the ones to honor our mothers and fathers, could be the toughest of all. Hallmark doesn’t make a card for “The Dad Who Has Everything…..including a drug addiction and jail time.” Or, “Thank you mom, the best thing you could have done was put me in the foster home. I’ll always remember you for that.”
Walking through the church doors the greeter would ask, red or white? The red carnation pinned to your lapel or dress (in the days when we wore ‘church clothes’) signified your mom was still living and the white, that she’d passed on. The moms would be asked to stand and little prizes given to the one with the most children with her in church that day. Sometimes the oldest would be recognized for her stalwart faith in raising generations.
Times changed and we don’t do that anymore. We try to be sensitive to the women who want nothing more than being a mom but can’t or are still waiting. So many reasons people can feel excluded so I suppose we just celebrate women and that’s good. Dads have never gotten the fanfare of mothers so maybe there’s not as much change there.
When we go through the calendar in our Rehabilitation Center, there are so many joys to share with these men throughout the year. Advent and the Lenten season are particularly special as some are new to the spiritual side of these holidays typically called Christmas and Easter. But I dread Mother’s and Father’s Day.
We stumble our way through these days, learning to follow their lead. They’ve seen our family, heard our stories of childhood and seen the pictures. We don’t hide our celebration of good but imperfect families and homes. They celebrate with us. And we hurt with those who ache from the dad who was never there or the mom who did put her sons in a foster home.
Before chapel, M, leaned over and told me his son had unfriended him on Facebook. This boy he loves and has been half way around the world to see, is hurt, angry, over his father’s relapse. M knows this. “It is what it is”, he says. And it’s the deepest kind of pain, I think.
A daughter messaged me asking if we’d heard from her dad. She was planning to visit him. Bring his grandson to see him for the first time. But his regular calls had stopped. Again.
J gave the welcome and this 20-something young man celebrating over a year of sobriety told us he hadn’t had a good relationship with his dad. His dad is still in addiction. “But I’ve forgiven him and I’ll call him today and tell him I love him.”
Grace? Amazing grace!
And so another and another stood during our time of sharing and thanked a God who has brought them to this place of healing, of restoring families, and making all things new. My eyes water while my spirit soars knowing God is always a God of love and grace and healing. He will make all things new.