July 19-25, 1970
Nate and I were happy to spend some weekend time washing and waxing our sleek, black Mustang with the terrible “bad breath” — hopeful that its handsome appearance would sell it quickly. It was enjoyable working together on a project that didn’t involve mental strain, since it seemed like all we ever did was study.
I felt overloaded with student teaching, seminars, and homework, but once Nate got deep into his law classes, there was no comparison as to who was busiest. He won, hands down.
After we finished the car, I opened a long letter from Mom, thanking us for their time in Champaign. She also wrote about Mary and Bervin getting a dog, a Cocker Spaniel. Rusty and Baron were becoming friends, and Mom wrote two paragraphs describing their antics.
As I read the letter, a new thought came. Did they really want to keep Baron for us, or were they just doing it as a sacrificial favor? Were we taking advantage of them by asking them to keep him?
Mom wrote, The Baron is A-OK, tearing up a box right now in the basement here. He brightens our lives.
But I pictured Mom, on her hands and knees, cleaning up shredded cardboard… and I had my doubts. I knew she worried about Baron running off when they were outside and had no good answer for what they would do with him if they went on vacation.
And all of a sudden I began to cry. Nate came running and put his arms around me. “What’s the matter?”
“I feel guilty that Mom and Dad have to keep our dog. They have to feed and house him, watch over him, and she just wrote that they took him in for his first round of puppy shots. We should be doing that.”
“Yes, but your mother really does love him – genuinely.”
“I know, but it isn’t just that.” And through tears I began remembering aloud all the ways my parents had helped us – going along with our rushed wedding plans, accepting Nate with enthusiasm, providing furniture, rugs, virtually everything in our apartment.
They had loaned us money, which moved my thoughts back to the cost of my college education… and so much more. I thought of my childhood as I grew up in an atmosphere of listening and love. Best of all, they had introduced me to Jesus Christ from the beginning, modeling lives committed to him.
As I sat with Mom’s letter in my lap and Nate’s arms around me, I sobbed and sobbed, overwhelmed with how much I’d been given and wondering if I had taken these gifts for granted. Did they know how much I appreciated everything? Had I thanked them enough?
Nate suggested I put all my thoughts into a long letter. “It’ll make you feel better to write it, and they’ll love receiving it.”
He was right, and I began. But even as I penned page after page of gratitude, my thoughts were on the Baron-dilemma.
“If you honor your father and mother, things will go well for you.” (Ephesians 6:3)