In many cultures of the world, honor is still practiced, especially in the form of honoring previous generations. It is not considered unusual for parents or grandparents to be cared for in their latter years in the homes of the younger generation. Instead of seeing the elderly as a burden, they are viewed as a blessing, a vast resource of wisdom and knowledge.
I was reminded of my own heritage of honor when I watched the movie The Last Samurai. The Japanese word samurai simply means “servant.” The entire duty of the samurai was to serve the emperor and defend his honor.
After my mother became a widow, my sister and brother both asked her to live with them. But my mother wouldn’t have it. “I live with my oldest boy, Dougie!” At 38 years old, single, and leading an international ministry, buying a house with my mother was not exactly the path I had envisioned for my life at that time! But as the oldest Asian son, I knew it was my responsibility to care for her.
In 1996, she moved in with me and lived with me for nearly eight years until she moved to Austin to be near my sister. She had begun having some health problems, and I was traveling a lot. A year and a half later, she went to be with Jesus, just a few weeks after she was diagnosed with cancer. Now, I wouldn’t trade those eight years we had together for anything in the world. I am so thankful I chose to honor her that way.
I still find myself honoring my mother by obeying certain things she taught me, like taking off my shoes before going into the house. Anytime I determine to walk through the house fully shod, I can only get so far before I hear her voice saying, “Dougie! Do you have your shoes on? Douglas, take off your shoes!” Now I even make my guests take off their shoes because I’ve realized it really does make a lot of sense. Mom was right!
She was right about many more things as well. I remember how she would tell me not to throw tissues in the toilet. “Dougie, they clog the drain!” I would argue with her that there was no difference between tissues and toilet paper. I later learned she was right when I saw it on television. It was confirmed again by a woman who heard me tell the story at a church in Cheshire, CT. She sent me an email entitled, “Your Mother Was Right”:
I heard you tell the story about your mother and her opposition to having tissues thrown into the toilet. She was right, you know!
A couple of years ago my 9-year-old and I set up a small experiment. We put a tissue in a cup of water and toilet paper in another cup of water and let them sit overnight. Sure enough, the next day the toilet paper had broken up very well, and the tissue was still completely intact.
While I was talking with my husband about what you had said, I looked at Chaska and asked, “Chaska, why don’t we throw tissues into the toilet?” He looked up at me over the rim of his glasses and said, “Because they’ll clog the drain.” Then, knowing that our six-year-old is trained not to throw the tissues into the toilet but wondering if he understands why, I asked, “Kenya, why don’t we throw tissues into the toilet?” He raised his curly mop and said, “Because we frow dem in the trash.” “But, Kenya, why do we throw them in the trash?” “Because we can’t frow dem in the toiwet.” “Kenya, what would happen if we threw them in the toilet?” He raised his curly mop again and paused for a moment. Then, making a gagging noise and sticking out his precious little tongue, he said, “It would choke!”
As we celebrate Mother’s Day this year, I think of my mother and how she is in heaven right now, dancing with Jesus. I know I will see her again one day, and when I do I am quite certain I know what she’ll have to say:
“Dougie, take off your shoes And once again, Mom will be right.”
Adapted from Doug Stringer’s newest book, Who’s Your Daddy Now?, available at Lifeway Bookstores, Barnes & Noble, and other locations. You may also order online at www.somebodycares.org or www.dougstringer.com, or call us at 713-621-1498.
Doug Stringer is founder and president of Turning Point Ministries International and Somebody Cares America/International, faith ministries that rely solely on the prayers and financial donations of our faithful supporters. Donations may be mailed to TPMI or SCA, PO Box 570007, Houston TX 77257. Or you make your donations online at www.somebodycares.org.