A family needs other families for friendship, support and mentoring, especially in hard times. It takes a village to raise a child, and it also takes a village to sustain a family. Be open to growing alongside other families, sharing love and care for one another.
Recently my wife and I received a message from a close friend of ours, “Mum’s condition has rapidly deteriorated and she is now just sleeping… You are welcome to visit…”
My beloved responded immediately, because Marcella was a real mother to my wife in a difficult and dark time in our family’s history.
Blow After Blow
We had just lost our building business, which in effect meant that we lost everything.
We moved out of our 35 square home into a borrowed 3 square garage with three young children, and no mum or dad in sight to share the pain.
David Grossman says, “Pain shared is pain divided.” In other words, having someone to talk to who loves you unconditionally, through your grief, heals heart, mind and soul.
Marcella and her husband George were mother and father to our family in our hour of need that continued for almost a decade. My wife’s own Mum and Dad were taken from us by a cult. This was heartbreaking for us as we were quite close.
I had just lost my Dad to a heart attack at 74 years of age and my own Mum lived a lengthy distance away. We both, and our children, needed some good old-fashioned TLC.
George and Marcella provided that in spades and it got our family through crucial child-rearing days and nights. They were surrogate grandparents to our three boys.
The loving care continued through to the birth of our daughter, which took our tally of children to five.
Unconditional love from another family is a powerful force. It is usually shared at meals, birthdays and Christmas celebrations in the most surprising ways and also at unexpected times. But we all need it, even as adults.
Brian Tracey says, “The greatest gift that you can give to others is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance.” I believe he is right. Wayne Dyer says it this way, “There is no greater power in heaven or on earth than pure unconditional love.”
Our family had this unusual Christmas tradition of spending the greater part of Christmas Day with George and Marcella and their family at the Wollongong University gardens. George was a gardener there, so he knew the best places to go, and it was relatively deserted at that time of year. We had the place to ourselves.
Come Christmas Day, we would load up the van with our four young boys, bikes, new skateboards and other Christmas toys to hang out, eat, laugh and play together. We had a great time.
George and Marcella’s children were a few years older than ours, but we all got on famously. It was one of the events with this family we looked forward to all year long. Two loving families together. The sum of the parts was greater than the whole. As Marty Stuart said, “Unconditional love goes a long way.”
A Fond Farewell
So, a few days ago, my wife and I went to visit our beautiful friend Marcella. She was unconscious so we sang some of her favourite songs together, accompanied by my guitar. Music is a powerful force for good, especially when it is motivated by love.
I have started writing a song to honour Marcella and George. It needs a bit more work, but songs, as with life, have to start somewhere. Here is my Mark II version. Expect Mark III.
Christmas time is a lonely time to be on your own
Waiting for a phone call that never, ever comes
Zion Community broke up our family
Under the cover of God, Who gets the blame again.
We know it’s not the truth
We know it’s not His plan
That’s why it is so important
To have someone who understands.
George and Marcella
A pizza base of love for a hurting world
George and Marcella
Love’s own umbrella
For a lonesome family in a lonesome world.
I realise that my rhyming is a bit cheesy (pun intended), but it’s a start. Paul McCartney’s first lyrics for Yesterday were “bacon and eggs, how I love bacon and eggs”!
However, the analogy still holds good. What is a pizza without a good base? What is family without unconditional love?
Bindi Irwin said, “As I’m getting older, I’m really learning unconditional love and loyalty are extremely important.”
Martin Luther King put it this way, “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.”
Will Arnett says, “My definition of family is just unconditional love.” When two loving families get together, love is multiplied. “The sum of the parts is greater than the whole.”
As fathers and mothers, we need mentors. Keep your eyes open for families that can spread the love around. As the song says, “Love will find a way.”
Yours for fathers, mothers and families,
PS: Happy New Year!