I was cleaning out some things last night, and being as nostalgic as I am right now I started opening old letters and cards. What I found brought a smile to my face.
The first thing I found was “A Parable For Mothers.” I had made a note on it to remind myself that Ben had sent it to me at work around Mothers Day, 1998. (It was particularly funny that I noted that “Ben forwarded this to my computer at work.” Computers were new to us and I’m sure I thought they wouldn’t be around long and I might wonder how it was that Ben had sent it to me. Lol.)
This is what he sent:
A PARABLE FOR MOTHERS
|The young mother set her foot on the path of Life. “Is the way long?” she asked. And her Guide said: “Yes, and the way is hard. And you will be old before you reach the end of it. But the end will be better than the beginning.”
But the young mother was happy, and she would not believe that anything could be better than these years. So she played with her children, and gathered flowers for them along the way, and bathed with them in the streams, and the sun shone on them, and life was good, and the young mother cried: “Nothing will ever be lovelier than this”.
Then night came, and storm, and the path was dark, and the children shook with fear and cold, and the mother drew them close and covered them with her mantle and the children said: “Oh, Mother, we are not afraid for you are near, and no harm can come.” And the mother said: “This is better than the brightest of days, for I have taught my children courage.”
And the morning came and there was a hill ahead, and the children climbed and grew weary, and the mother was weary, but at all times she said to the children: “A little patience and we are there.” So the children climbed, and when they reached the top, they said: “We could not have done it without you, Mother.” And the mother, when she lay down that night, looked up at the stars and said: “This is a better day than the last, for my children have learned fortitude in the face of difficulty. Yesterday I gave them courage, Today I have given them strength.”
And the next day came strange clouds which darkened the earth – clouds of war and hate and evil, and the children groped and stumbled, and the mother said: “Look up! Lift your eyes to the light.” And the children looked and saw above the clouds an Everlasting Glory, and it guided them beyond the darkness. And that night the mother said: “This is the best day of all, for I have shown my children God.”
And the days went on, and the months and the years, and the mother grew old, and she was small and bent. But her children were strong and tall and walked with courage. And when the way was hard, they helped their mother; and when the way was rough they lifted her, for she was as light as a feather; and at last they came to a hill, and beyond the hill they could see a shining road and golden gates flung wide. And the mother said: “I have reached the end of my journey. And now I know that the end is better than the beginning, for my children can walk alone, and their children after them.”
And the children said: “You will always walk with us, Mother, even when you have gone through the gates.”
And they stood and watched her as she went on alone, and the gates closed after her. And they said: “We cannot see her, but she is with us. A mother like ours is more than a memory. She is a living presence.”
— Temple Bailey —
Ah … sweet Ben. He really, truly believed that my job as a Mother was the most important job in the world. Not in a sexist way, but in the way that he wanted our kids to feel a sense of security, love, and safety that he believed was so important. He believed that everyone had a specific role in other people’s lives, and that a mother has it within her power to provide her children with a sense of nurture that no one else truly can. He didn’t think that responsibility should be taken lightly. More important, he really believed that I was up to the task.
Then I found this … a note written by Jaime to Ben 10 years ago, in the way that kids used to write “Will you go out with me? Check this box if ‘yes’ and this box if ‘no’.” I love the way she left room for his answers, and I love how he answered her, especially where he said “yes yes” when she asked him if he thought it would be fun…
The responses Ben gave sum up exactly how he was as a father. Involved. Present. Enthusiastic. Always making time for his kids.
And then I found this. The first card he ever gave me. It was for my 23rd birthday, and we were both still in Regina at the Training Academy but he had been posted to Gibsons and was about to head west. I don’t remember what he bought me for my birthday, but I do remember the card. I’m so glad I saved it all these years.
Here’s the front:
Here’s the inside:
And this is what my sweetheart and best friend wrote to me. When I read the words he wrote to me back in 1993, I’m reminded of why we worked so well for so long … because we were best friends. We understood each other. We were friends first, and that friendship sustained us through so many trials over the years.
We found each other when Ben was just coming out of a dark time in his life, and he felt very alone. We made each other laugh. We were great, great friends and we made a fantastic team that sustained through Ben’s life and would have sustained through many, many more years. Our time was too short, but man, was it ever good.
Here’s what he wrote, all those years ago:
Thank God I was also posted on the Sunshine Coast a few months later, where our friendship picked right up where it left off, and never quit. Destiny.
I hope all three of my kids are so lucky to meet a steadfast, true and honourable life partner just like their Dad.
How we all miss him.
“We cannot see him, but he is with us. A husband / father like ours is more than a memory. He is a living presence.”