Yesterday my brother Robert and his wife Jo-Anne celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. I wish them both a Happy Anniversary and a prayer for another 50 years of marriage. I miss being in Newfoundland when there are celebrations taking place.
Robert is the oldest youngest sibling. That may not make sense to some, but it does to our family. You see, there are seven George children. There were four who, more or less, grew up together and three who, more or less, grew up together. I am the youngest, Robert is seven years older than I am and he was the oldest sibling remaining in the house when I was growing up. He is the oldest of the youngest siblings! So he was the big brother. Big Bob! (He also celebrated a birthday this week – Happy Birthday Robert!) I was a young child when Jo-Anne first arrived on the scene. They have watched me grow up. Jo-Anne has been family to me for much longer than 25 years.
When they got married, it was the first family wedding that I had much memory about. While I was the ring-bearer at my brother Lloyd’s wedding. (Lloyd is the opposite of Robert – he is the youngest oldest sibling. Of the four older children, Lloyd has the same position as me — the youngest – even though he is technically the middle child – the baby if you will.) But my memories of that evening are vague. I was too young to take in the magnitude of the day. But Robert and Jo-Anne getting married was a milestone for me. It was really the first time I was old enough to take part in a rite of passage in our family and understand its impact. Looking at photos of their wedding day really makes me realize how much things have changed in what feels like the blink of an eye. The first thing I notice is, even though my eldest brother James is 21 years older than me, I am now 7 years older than he was on that day. Also, all five of us boys had hair at Robert’s wedding. Now there is not enough hair to cover one head among all of us. Just seeing mom and dad so young and vibrant is makes the heart swell and a reminds me how much things change in time.
This week we will celebrate mom’s 80th birthday. She will be an octogenarian on July 28th. While mom has had struggles with her health of late, we are still very fortunate to have her with us and are very much excited that she is turning 80 on Saturday. While Catherinanne and I are unable to be in the Holy Land of Newfoundland, our thoughts and our prayers will certainly be with our family. I suspect that she will have a host family and friends visit her at the Harbour Lodge bringing love and celebration to a woman who has given so much of herself to others.
We read in scripture about a mother:
She girds herself with strength, and strengthens herself daily. She perceives that her provision for her family is good: she does not retire early but works diligently to see to the needs of her family, she is not an idle woman. Proverbs 31:17, 18, 27
When I think of the long hours and tireless effort that our mother put into raising the seven of us, as well as giving her efforts in support of her in-laws when she was first married, I think that this piece of Proverbs was written with mom in mind. I never knew mom to be idle and the business of her life was rooted in providing for all of us and for dad. She was married at 17. By the Time I left for university she was 57. That was a forty-year career of caring — without a great retirement package because it did not end there. Then she continued caring for us as adults and she extended her care to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her life has been her family and we are so fortunate to have mom with us to remind us daily that we have been loved so deeply, and with such care and effort. Mom is a gift that we should tank God for. Happy birthday mom! I miss you and I wish we could be with you. I thank God for the gift of a wonderful mother!