Two of my best friends from birth both lost their moms this week. Arlene Schotanus and Doris Boyd mean as much to me as my own mom ever will and I am saddened by their passing. My sadness is lessened though by so many wonderful memories of growing up around these families. I am truly blessed to have been part of a wonderful church family growing up in the 60’s in Prairie Village, Kansas. My greatest wish is that every child could grow up in just such a loving environment and in their honor I would like to pass on some of the lessons I was taught by these faithful women.
The group of family friends that came from being members at Ward Parkway Presbyterian Church had an immense impact on my life. As postwar children of the baby boom, we all started life long friendships in Sunday Bible School classes and our parents shared teaching duties. Dads and moms alike read to us from the Bible and told stories about their own life experiences to reinforce the message they wanted us to understand – real faith is never going to be easy but it’s worth every ounce of energy we put into it. And these people put everything they had into their faith.
I spent years visiting in the homes of these families and they always made me feel loved, accepted and appreciated for just who I am. It felt like I had a dozen homes that would take me in if I ever needed help and my folks did the same for their kids. Some of them had bigger houses than we did but none of them ever made me feel small.
They all had the same set of rules that were established at my house – we don’t say hurtful things to others, we apologize when we screw up and we pray. And the unwritten rule for every household was – we laugh as often as possible. The funny moments were constant and frequently inspired by the parents as much as the kids. Most of the dads were great story tellers and the moms were witty and wise. They could all get and keep your attention while they were teaching you stuff. We got to laugh while we learned. Those are moments I will never forget.
The other thing that stood out for me with these families was their work ethic. In those days, most of us had stay-at-home moms but Arlene was the only single mom I knew and she worked extremely hard to provide for her son John and his sister Melanie. John is and always will be the hardest working man I know so clearly his mom’s efforts paid off. The expectation of doing your part was so obvious that none of us wanted to be seen as lacking in effort. When you have a dozen sets of parents asking about your grades or extracurricular activities or church events there isn’t any room for excuses.
It was such a tight knit group of families that every time you made a mistake everybody knew about it. When John’s mom caught us brewing beer in their basement during high school, I knew I had no chance when I got home. My mom didn’t need to hear my side of the story because she and Arlene had already discussed it and worked out the punishment for both of us. And then at church the next week, all the other parents got to express their disappointment as well. I know the dads were all laughing inside but they put on the act for the sake of their marriage.
For all these wonderful moments and more, I am eternally grateful. I wish the world of today could be just like those days. Sadly, it can’t but there are things that families can still do that will make their children’s lives so much more memorable and enjoyable. First, have some kind of faith in a higher power and a higher purpose. Second, make family your priority, not the world. Third, give your kids high expectations and hold yourself to the same ones. Fourth, share the experience with other families, both the good and the bad. And last, laugh with your kids as often as possible. There really isn’t anything else more important.
I think Heaven just got a lot more joyful, now that Arlene and Doris made their journey home. Thanks for everything ladies. We ALL love you.
©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.