Public Service Announcement: When, as a parent, you teach your children to invest in the lives of others and in relationships, when you teach them that people matter, their hearts are going to break sometimes. There are going to be relationship struggles, there are going to be heartaches, and there are going to be losses. And when you are the mother, and you see those children that you have trained to invest into people, your own heart will shatter as your children hurt deeply.
You will also share in the joys of relationship. When your children have teachable spirits, when they spend time with wise elders they respect and to whom they are willing to listen, they are mentored well, and empowered by encouraging Godly words or words of life they need to hear. Sometimes, this is the where broken hearts can heal. People will also invest in those children you love so dearly, and as a result, their relationships, their academics, and their lives will be richer. This is how real life training happens, in all of its joys and sorrows, and how strong young people develop.
Last week, two of our sons found themselves grieving the loss of a 71 year old man who had been more than their employer. Mr. T. was a Christian man who loved mentoring young men to be strong leaders, and he shared with them the wisdom he had gleaned through his successes, his mistakes, and his failures. He turned their hearts back to us, the parents, when there seemed to be conflict in the relationship. He turned them back to God, and encouraged them to follow His leading and he encouraged them in prayer and support. Our sons respected this man and enjoyed being with him. They will miss him.
Our nearly 17 year old son wrote these words after hearing of Mr. T’s passing:
“These last 50 years of my life are the only 50 years I would relive over and over again.”
– James Michael T. to me speaking of his celebration with his wife of their 50th wedding anniversary. Thankfully he loved his Lord, the only one he loved more than is wife. Sometimes he would just stop in the middle of a conversation to just stare at his wife, Mrs. T., for a solid 20-30 seconds. I’ve told this to so many people because it’s one of the most beautiful and touching things that he would take time to do before he passed, as well as that 39 page essay he wrote to her, Sherri, Katie Bell, “… my love,” and that 13 page essay to “Mrs. T. and his wonderful daughter Nikki.
While on earth, he could barely walk, write, talk (although somehow after the stroke he could still shout, something he has always been very good at XD), and even smile (I still got him to, of course, XD).
A stock broker and English teacher, always teaching me about investing and long words, “A., do you know what vicissitudes are? No,” I replied. “That’s your homework for this week. Look it up and tell me what it means, and don’t come back to work until you know.” What the heck are vicissitudes??? Only an English teacher would not let me come back to work until I gave him the answer. In case you’re wondering, vicissitudes are a change or variation occurring in the course of something, but only if you were wondering. After giving my answer, he said, “Very good. Now here’s the lesson: Life is full of vicissitudes. We must learn to change with them.”
A sports fan always asking me which teams I thought would make the whatever the basketball’s world series thingy is. To which I responded, “I still don’t care Mr. T.” He only asked me because he knew I don’t like basketball, nor do i pay any more attention to it. At least he approved of my football team choices, unless that was only because they weren’t the teams my brother J. liked.
This man, who continuously told me to get, “a wife, a woman like this” pointing to Mrs. T. (even though he still liked poking fun at me when his buddies were around, about my “6, or more, girlfriends”), who continuously told me I was a bright and intuitive young man with an odd sense of humour, who would always ask me how we were doing on money (referring to how much I had left to work off), who taught me how to have $92+ billion easily in only 80 years starting with $10,000, who told me how frustrating it was to walk or write legibly with Parkinson’s disease, who I told was doing great on his way back to his chair as he struggled, who has the most kind and loving, beautiful and strong, offers me food all the time and will tell me how to not be afraid of the ducks when they charge me, wife and woman ever, who’s grand daughters constantly follow me around the yard talking my ears off and asking me random questions like, “why is water called water?” A great friend, husband, and Boppy to everyone, both family and friends.
To you Mr. T., who I will never call anything other than “Mr. T.” Who I will always remember and respect for innumerable reasons. A great man, but a greater father, husband, and devout Christian. A man who is riding his bike again, free of the Parkinson’s and the cancers. A man who is no longer frustrated about how he can’t walk or write or close a container. A man with strong muscles, running as fast as he can, for as long as he can: forever and into eternity.
I love you and your family, and the impact you’ve had on me and my family and everyone else.
Godspeed, with love,
AW: your yard boy.
To: J. Michael T.; June 23, 1945 – August 22, 2016
Thank you, Mr. T, for investing in my son, and rewarding him far more richly than monetarily.