On the speech I gave a year ago today.

(This is a repost from June 28, 2011. The original title was “How Donald Miller helped me write my dad’s eulogy”).

June 14, 2011 I was at a picnic lunch with people from work. I got a call from my sister. My dad was having a hard time breathing. He wanted a ride to the doctor. She called the ambulance. She was right. He went to the hospital. A touch of pneumonia. Some other stuff.

I packed up and left for Illinois.

My heart was troubled. My mom can’t be alone. She and dad needed each other, though, to be truthful, they couldn’t do a lot for each other. I knew we were headed for some significant decisions about places to live and kinds of care. I had a lot running through my head.

I was listening to music, the music that usually helps. And then I found a talk by Donald Miller, one from a book tour a couple years ago. He talked about rewriting the story that our life is telling. I’ve listened before. I’ve read the book. But something clicked as I listened. I started thinking about my parents, about the journey I was making, about what I could do when I arrived.

I tweeted:  ”What if ‘honor your parents’ means for me ‘help them finish the story of their lives as well as they can.’?”

And then I started thinking about how to simply summarize the story that their lives have told.

I tweeted: “and his story is ‘i kept my word to take care of her’ and hers is ‘i kept my word to make people feel at home’”

It changed how I listened to my parents for the next few days. I was looking for the story they were telling with their lives.

But how does that relate to the title? Dad didn’t come out of the hospital. And for his eulogy, I simply told his story.

5 thoughts on “On the speech I gave a year ago today.

  1. Cheryl

    I like that perspective. With a mother-in-law who has Alzheimers it makes me think about how she would want her life story to finish.

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  2. Lois

    Hi Jon. A valuable reminder to me when, like this morning, I get a tad of an attitude about being the only sibling out of 5 in FW to help w./ my Mom. Yes, she’s slow as a 94 yr old woman would be expected to be. Yes, she tells me the same thing multiple times. Yes, she tells me over & over that she’s tired of living. Yes, she can’t hear me half the time. Yes, she’s still stubborn. But her mind is good, She loves me. She loves God. She can still read. She can still walk . . . verrrrry slowly 🙂 I tell her I’m happy to help her, and most of the time, I’m telling the truth. I can only hope that if I live as long, one of my children is nearby & can & will help me. It’s my blessed responsiblity to help her finish her story.

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  3. Hugh McDevitt

    Jon, I had the opportunity to attend Don Miller’s Storyline conference at Westmont College in Santa Barbara a couple of weeks ago. I’m looking forward to going through his materials this summer to see how it impacts my story and the stories of people I know.

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