Friday, June 23, 2017

Memories of Daddy, part 1: A Loving Mother and Daddy, and a Treasured Note
by Bill Jones
Trustee, T. B. Maston Foundation

Daddy passed away 10 years ago today.

Ten years!

In 2011, on the 4th anniversary of his death, I wrote a three-part tribute to him, trying to summarize his life as fully and succinctly as I could.

But there were few personal memories in there, so now - 10 years after I learned that I would no longer see him in this life - it's time for me to recall a few more personal memories.

Daddy and I had a great relationship, one that grew closer over the last 30 years or so of his life.

Read part 2: Daddy, Baseball, and Me

Read part 3: Hearing Daddy preach; and Goodnight, Johnny

Read part 4: OBU; My Faith Crisis; and a Loving Dad

Read part 5: To Hug or Not to Hug; Late-Night Talks; 'the Night of the Three Jasons'; and a Devoted Marriage

I wrote about Mother this past March, in Remembering Mother, 20 years after God called her home. But there's one memory that I didn't share in that post; it's one that demonstrates the unbounded grace of her big and loving heart but is a little painful for me, because it's a reminder of just how ungracious I could be toward her. It was after I had broken up with Joanna Wong - after dating her for only a couple of months. (Don't worry - Joanna and I soon got back together for good and celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary last September.)

All of the Chinese students from Hong Kong and other points east were, of course, staying on campus during Spring Break, so I decided I would stay, too, to spend time with Joanna. Then came the break-up. So I got a flight home to Kansas City. Mother picked me up at the airport.

On the way home, Mother remarked that she was sorry that things didn't work out for Joanna and me. In my most smart-alecky tone, I replied, "Really? I figured you'd be happy, since Joanna isn't a Christian." My dear sweet Mother (and this always brings tears to my eyes) said, "Honey, I just want you to be happy." I don't think I've ever felt so small in my life. She had a grace and a love that I still can't comprehend, to which I can only wistfully aspire.

I should add that, when Mother and Daddy met Joanna the following year, they immediately fell in love with her. Mother wasn't just a wonderful mother; she was a doting and loving mother-in-law as well. It was the love my parents showed to her that was instrumental in Joanna's decision, a few years later, to give her life to Christ.

This morning, my sister Patsy texted me, "They were good parents, and they were well-suited for each other, weren't they?" Yes, 59 years of marriage, and Daddy always felt that was way too little. He never got over losing Mother, and they're together in eternity now, as we shall be with them one day.

One of my favorite possessions is a note Daddy wrote to me - on behalf of both of them - at Christmas 1960, when I was 9. When I opened the box that supposedly contained my Christmas present, all I found inside was a smaller box; and when I opened that one, I found another box, even smaller. I had to open several boxes until I finally found the present - my first wristwatch. Attached to it was a note, which I keep on my desk today, almost 60 years later: "Merry Christmas and lots of love. You had to remove several wrappings to get to this gift, but you see, life is like that. You often have to work long and hard to reach the best things in life. Your mother and daddy want you to keep on searching until you reach God's purpose for your life. You will find it in the center of God's will." (Uh-oh, more tears!)

What a great lesson to learn - it's taken years of experience for me to learn the truth and value of that lesson.

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