My wife told me that Valentine’s Day is every day. She is an astute thinker, so I am going to try to be like her and declare that Every day is Mother’s and Father’s Day. Yes, I know, I have combined the two special days. Someone might think that this detracts from both special days. However, I have a reason for combining them.

I started reading King Solomon’s proverbs for my appointment with God today. I was drawn to his admonition, “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction, and do not ignore your mother’s teaching; for they are a graceful wreath for your head and necklaces for your neck.”[1] Solomon combined mothers and fathers. The first thought that came to me concerned an inmate in a nearby correctional facility that I write to periodically. What did his parents teach him or not teach him? I can reserve this question for a later conversation with him. I realized I should ask myself the same question, and I did. The list of things that my parents taught me grew to twenty-six items. They taught me to: dress appropriately for Sunday worship; do my part to help the household succeed (chores); clean up after myself; take responsibility; be friendly; be hospitable; read; visit historical sites and national parks; enjoy music; participate in the community according to one’s talents and interests; worship together; give up harmful habits; make photo memories; let the girl teach you (how to dance); there are consequences for wrongdoing; be creative, ingenious, or adaptive; go prepared; be faithful to one’s spouse; do not argue in front of the children; take turns; share; say table grace at meals; play outside; keep your hands to home; get trained and educated; and volunteer.

I would be lying to you if I told you, I heeded all these instructions and teachings from my mother and father. I did not. Making this incomplete list of parental teachings while I reflected on Solomon’s counsel to his son, made me appreciate their efforts to train, instruct, and guide me and my four brothers. My wife benefited from my mother’s example. Mom was a doctor’s wife and military wife, so she followed Dad during his career. In their latter years, they contemplated moving to Arlington, Texas to live near me and my youngest brother, and grandchildren. Dad was not crazy about leaving the Watertown, New York area. So many of their friends and some relatives lived there. They had spent decades there. Dad did not want to leave. Mom pulled out the card “Take Turns,” and used it with Dad. She told him, “I followed you all these years. It’s your turn to follow me!” Dad submitted and they moved to Arlington. We had the honor of serving them, enjoying their attendance at family gatherings, and being close when they died. I believe Mom’s card playing was the winning hand. Jan used my Mom’s same card on me when we were making plans for retirement. She had followed me for thirty-nine years as a pastor’s and chaplain’s wife. It was my turn to follow her. I agreed to move to Florida to live near her two sisters near the Emerald Coast.

Whether you were raised by one or two parents, reflecting today on what they taught you might help you see them in a new light of appreciation. Remembering their teachings and instructions today might be just what you need at this time in your life. Their instructions and examples might be the wisdom you need, the encouragement you want, the inspiration you long for. Listening to and heeding their counsel is a down-to-earth form of God’s love and guidance. Every day is Mother’s and Father’s Day.

[1] Proverbs 1:8-9.

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