Posted tagged ‘parental influence’

Dad’s Hairbrush

September 2, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W                                                       September 2, 2018

                                     

When my dad passed away last February it was the end of a generation. It was also the end of a gathering place for family keepsakes. Dad’s apartment in the Wyngate Senior Living Complex needed to be packed up and moved out. That task fell upon my sister and brother-in-law to complete after my family flew back to Colorado, and my brother drove back to Frankfort, Kentucky.

A few weeks later a box arrived at our house packed with family pictures, an iron skillet, and various other items that had meaning to the Wolfe clan.

And in the box, stuffed down in a corner by a tube of Brylcreem, was Dad’s hairbrush. The bronze-colored handle fit my hand easily. When I picked it up out of the box a flash flood of emotions surprised me. I recognized that this hairbrush had stroked the hair on Pop’s head for years. In his last few years it would be accurate to say that it didn’t have that many hairs to brush…kind of like a cornfield during drought conditions!

Each morning since I opened that box I’ve used Dad’s hairbrush on my own head of hair…well, with the exception of the few weeks when I shaved my head because of a lost bet with one of my basketball players (See “WordsfromWW.com” 3/4/2018 blog post “My Last Day With Hair For a While”). 

I’ve moved my part over to the left slightly to allow the brush to take a longer stroke. Having a part in my hair isn’t as easy with a hairbrush as it was with a comb, so I’ve just relocated it closer to my left ear. Darla, my barber, shows me a path that I simply trace over each morning.

And each day I pick up that hairbrush and hold it in my hand I think of Dad. It’s a simple thing, a moment of reflection and connection. 

There are some people that you miss about as much as a hemorrhoid…and there are other people you miss like your heart has been cut from your chest cavity. Dad was our heart, our wisdom, the groomer of our civility. 

As I ponder the words I write this morning my emotions rise up from within. It is the way things should be; that our parents reappear in the moments of ordinary routines. 

For my mom, who passed away five years ago today, she comes back to life every time I see a crossword puzzle, or see a pair of those fuzzy looking house slippers, or eat a ham and cheese omelette. (I ate one last night!)

For Dad, he shows up anytime a Kentucky basketball game is on TV, I put hamburgers on the grill, and…brush my hair!

A lot of people think of flashy events and extravagance when they remember people from their lives. Flashy would not have been a word that anyone would have used in describing my dad. The motorized wheelchair that he used for the last year or so of his life was about as flashy as he got! His life was more like a consistent steady walk with strides of patience and humor. 

It was more like a stroke from a hairbrush, long and loving, the same day after day.

Parents Following Directions

August 12, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                             August 12, 2018

                                   

This past week I was doing laps around our middle school track. It was also a day when students were stopping by the school to check in and get their assigned locker. Most of them had a parent with them.

Our middle school is undergoing a construction project at the school entrance to provide a more secure environment. The work is not done yet, thus there were two construction indicators on the sidewalk leading up to the entrance. The first was a sign that informed parents and students that construction was being done on the entrance. It directed them to enter the building by the side entrance. The large arrow pointing the direction to the side entrance was visible at least twenty yards away.

The second indictor was a line of orange cones across the sidewalk. 

Each time I came around the track I saw the decision-making process taking place. First, a parent and their child, or children, would walk up the sidewalk to where the sign was located. They would then either turn and walk towards the side of the building…or walk past the sign and past the orange cones and proceed to the front entrance. 

A rough calculation of those I observed indicated that half followed directions and half didn’t! (One good thing about the experience is that it took my mind off the laps I ran!) 

Half followed directions and half did their own thing! And these were the parents!

Was there misunderstanding? Were the orange cones not bright enough? Was the arrow pointing towards the side entrance confusing? Was the sounds of the drill and the pounding of nails disorienting?

There may have been a few reasons why so many of them continued on the forbidden path. My cynical and critical nature tells me that some of them felt the sign didn’t apply to them. It was for those OTHER people! Kind of like those handicapped parking spots are okay to park in when no one is parking in them! Or that additional check-out line that just opened up  at the grocery store is meant for them even those six people are in front of them in the previous line! Or that person who believes he can speed by the waiting line of cars on the highway even though the road sign a mile back told him his lane was ending due to road construction!

There’s parental entitlement that is seeping through in various subtle ways. 

I know, I know…it’s only a door! Yes, maybe I’m reading too much into it, but my guess is that all of us have experienced every one of those situations I mentioned…and we gritted our teeth in frustration or dropped our mouthes open in disbelief. 

Perhaps Little Jimmy’s apple of attitude didn’t fall too far from the tree!

Hearing My Parents Speaking…Through Me!

October 29, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        October 29, 2017

                      

My mom passed away four years ago but I heard her voice this past week! It came up through my lungs and spoke to the seventh grade boy standing in front of me. He had made an unwise choice because some of his friends had made the same choice before him. In other words, since his friends had done something stupid he decided to do the same stupid thing. Before I knew it my mom spoke to him.

“If everyone else jumps off the roof are you going to jump off, too?”

There she was, coming back to life through her youngest child!

I find that happening a lot these days, especially as I deal with middle schoolers.

“Were you born in a barn? Close the door!”

Once in a while my mom’s voice comes through as I’m approaching my wife and I say to her, “Kiss me, slobber lips! I can swim!” When my mom would say that to my dad he would pucker up. With Carol, however, there is a quick retreat to a different room in the house.

My dad often begins a statement or comment with the word “Well”. “Well, I was at the store last week and bought some Kahn’s Bologna!” “Well, there was a time when we didn’t have anything but beans to eat for dinner.”

Now I find myself saying “Well…” as often as I swallow.

I look at a dinner bowl with a little bit of food left in it and hear my mom behind me saying, “Bill, eat this last bite. There’s just enough left in it to dirty the dishwater.” I hear that even though we haven’t filled the sink with dishwater for ages. We use the dishwasher!

I look at my shoes sitting in the floor and have echoes of the evaluation I would receive growing up: “Bill, get in here and clean up this room. It looks like a cyclone hit it!”

This past week a seventh grader who was a little full of himself was dictating something to a classmate…and I said it. “Who died and made you king?” A little later I refused a request from the same student and when he asked me why…the words flowed out of me as naturally as water out of the kitchen faucet. “Because I said so, and that’s the only reason you need!”

I am the product of my parents. When I was a teenager I probably would have punched someone if he said to me “You’re just like your dad!” But now I’d take such words directed at me as a compliment!

Baptist Mom Guilt and God-Leadings

May 17, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                       May 17, 2016

                            “Baptist Mom Guilt and God-Leadings”

Last week my cell phone rang at 5:55 A.M. It was Amy, the lady who assigns substitute teaching positions. Usually the automated call comes at 5:45, so I had drifted back to sleep, thinking that there would not be an assignment for the day.

When the phone rang I answered and, with a hint of desperation, Amy’s voice greeted me with a “Good morning!”, and asked me if I was available to teach a third grade class that day. I had just been through a two-day first grade gauntlet, so I said that I would pass. Her voice carried subdued disappointment in it as she said good-bye.

I laid back down and then I felt led to call her back and say I would do it. She was overjoyed, as well as relieved, and I prepared for a day of corralling third graders.

Later on that day it hit me! It wasn’t a leading from the Lord that had caused me to call her back. It was “Baptist Mom Guilt!” BMG!

If you’ve been raised Baptist, especially independent or Southern Baptist, or Catholic, or one of a few other church backgrounds, it is very likely you know what I’m talking about. Baptist Mom Guilt is that loud inner voice that tells you to do something that you have no intention of doing.

Christians speak quite often about being led by the Lord or led by the Holy Spirit. For me, it is often difficult to differentiate the voice of God from the voice of my mom in decisions that are made.

For instance, even though it has been several years, this was a meal-time dialogue with my mom:

“Bill, do you want more squash casserole?”

“No, I think I’ve had enough, Mom.”

“There is just a little bit left.”

“No, I’m okay.”

“Just enough to dirty the dishwater!”

“No, thank you.”

“There are children around the world who are hungry, but you want me to just throw this last bite of casserole away?”

“I’m just full, Mom.”

“So you didn’t like the squash casserole?”

“It was great, Mom.”

“If it was great then have this last bite.”

“Okay! Okay! I’ll take it.”

I loved my mom. She was an awesome woman, who is now whispering in the ear of God, seeing if he would like that last bite of the heavenly squash casserole. (Not really, but I can envision her standing in Glory with a serving spoon in her hand.) She knew how to get my siblings and me to do things…Baptist Mom Guilt!

And the thing is…there are a number of times each day when I hear her voice as I’m making a decision. Since I’m not substitute teaching this morning I’ll probably go home and “be led” to vacuum the family room, and do a load of laundry. I’ll hear the inner voice saying, “Why are you relaxing? Don’t just sit there. Do something!”

There are some Sundays where Baptist Mom Guilt drives me to church. Some mornings BMG causes me to withstand the temptation to wear the same pair of underwear for two days in a row. It also makes me clean my dinner plate, brush my teeth, and pick up my socks.

So how do I know that I’m being led by the Holy Spirit, as the Book of Acts so often describes what happened in events of the lives of the apostles, and how do I know it’s Baptist Mom Guilt?

I think I’ve figured out a few things…maybe! If what I’m being lead to do alleviates feeling bad about myself it is probably a moment of BMG. If what I’m being led to do helps someone draw closer to God, or experience the unconditional love of God it has a great possibility of being a God-leading. If the leading begins with the words “I ought to…” it is probably Baptist Mom Guilt raising its parental head. If it is a leading that is framed in a thought that says, “I don’t quite understand this, but…”, it could very well be the leading of the Holy Spirit.

If it is a leading that results from a Sunday morning plea that says, “If we don’t get more volunteers, we can’t…”, beware! If it is a leading from someone’s heart cry that says, “I’m looking for a few people to join me on a new ministry journey of…”, listen closely!

I’m still figuring out this whole discernment thing! The good thing is that I’ve come to grips with how Mom still speaks to me. I remember the conversations of love being expressed, the two-layered coconut birthday cakes made, sitting between her and Dad in church, and I weigh those pictures and memories against the bite of squash casserole left in the dish…and it’s all good! It’s all good!

Dedicating the Granddaughter

June 22, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                 June 22, 2015

                                       

I’m an emotional wreck this morning! I’m drowning my tears in my first cup of Pike Place.

Why are the tears backing up in my soul? I just saw the pictures my daughter, Kecia, posted on her Facebook page of her three-month old daughter’s, and my granddaughter’s, baby dedication yesterday in our morning worship service. I’m standing there with my fingers holding one of Corin Grace Hodges’ shoes, praying for God’s blessing upon her and her family, Corin is wide-eyed and brightly beautifully dressed, Mom and Dad have bowed heads and smiling faces, as does big brother Jesse. Big sister Reagan is standing closest to the camera with her eyes open in a way that, if you know Reagan, communicates “I wanted to be the one that said the prayer, Granddad!” (She did say it at our lunch together afterwards!)

What an incredible privilege to be able to dedicate this new gift from God!

Kecia didn’t stop with just pictures of the baby dedication, however; she also posted pictures of the “dads” of her life, including grandfathers, me, “Uncle David”, and husband Kevin. Her honoring of the guys was what put me over the falls!

How often do we stop and consider how blessed we are? Sometimes we move unconsciously through life…and then we see a picture on Facebook that hits our eyes and heart at the same time…and we sense the tears welling up inside us at the blessed place we are in.

We breathe in his blessings with deep satisfaction and contemplate the awesomeness of the One who loves us.

Corin Grace has the names of our grandmothers, her great-great grandmothers, that have long since strolled into Glory. And yet when I think of her middle name I will be reminded of the grace of God upon our lives…and here come the tears again!