In my last post (in addition to announcing my pending retirement from Mayo Clinic as of August 3) I paid tribute to my recently deceased father-in-law, Leonard Wacholz.
Today I want to honor my father and my mother, who are still very much with us and have been my most important sources of support and encouragement for more than 58 years (although Lisa has taken the lead in that regard for the last 40.)
Instead of Taking the 5th (Amendment), today I want to Keep the 5th (Commandment).
Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are good occasions that cause us to reflect on our parents and their roles in our lives, and hopefully to spur us to gratitude.
I want to honor Lewis and LaVonne Aase today not because of a Hallmark trigger, but more spontaneously.
Eulogies (literally “good words”) should be spoken about the living, not just those who have finished their races.
Some people would say I’m privileged. I think a better word is blessed. In either case the benefits are undeserved and unearned. I didn’t choose my parents. Saying I’m blessed not only honors my father and mother, but also Our Father who gave me to them and them to me.
Here are just a few of the ways they have been a blessing to me, to my brother Mark and to our extended (and extensive) family.
- They have demonstrated their love not only in words, but in concrete actions. For example, when Lisa and I moved six times in our first six years of marriage, our parents were there to help us move. Every time. That’s love.
- They have modeled grace to us. Mark and I have both done things we came to regret. While there was never any question in the moment as to whether Dad and Mom approved, the consequences we experienced were better than we deserved. And when we came to our senses they didn’t hold our previous errors against us. They taught us the Law and showed us the Gospel.
- Mom particularly modeled practical repentance. When her perfectionist tendencies caused her to occasionally overreact to something the men in her life did, she was quick to apologize and ask our forgiveness. Her willingness to admit mistakes made it easier for us to do the same.
- They have lived out the practical implications of their Christian faith in their vocations. Mom worked as a geriatric nurse, caring for vulnerable aging patients and residents, and Dad was an elementary school principal whose continuing question in running school programs was, “What’s best for the kids?”
- Dad has been relentless in developing and pushing helpful innovations. Some have been in his work and in areas of his direct responsibility, such as finding ways for younger students who weren’t keeping up academically to participate in the decision to take another year in a grade so they wouldn’t fall further and further behind. He also co-founded a mathematics challenge program called Math Masters in Austin, Minn. in 1989 that has grown throughout the state and continued to this day. You should read about it.
- They’re faithful members of their church, contributing their time, talents and treasure and actively caring for members of the church body.
- They’ve been active in other community improvement efforts. Dad’s been a Guardian ad Litem and mentor, and served Meals on Wheels until he broke his hip a couple of years ago. Even now, at 90, he is writing letters to elected officials suggesting that a program to have police officers visit elementary schools would be a constructive solution to the current societal unrest.
I could go on, and in the series on My Career Journey and My Faith Journey their ongoing influences will be a recurring theme.
Dad and Mom have striven to follow Jesus Christ in their life’s calling, in humble reliance on the Holy Spirit, and bearing His fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
They remain an inspiration to me and to many others, and a reminder that we are blessed to be a blessing.
I thank God for them.