No one could ask for better in-laws than mine. It is not only because they gave their beautiful daughter to an undeserving guy. They have been ones who through the years have constantly encouraged us, supported our family and ministry through their labors and gifts, and given us invaluable counsel (to the point Miriam’s dad likes to call me Moses and himself Jethro).
Our children also could not ask for better grandparents. They have been deemed “Papa and HooHoo,” Miriam’s mother being so named when the kids were little for her habit of calling out “Hoo, hoo!” when she enters the house. When Papa and HooHoo come to visit, it is an exciting event. Our children have always gone bounding out the door to greet them. Not only do they genuinely love them, but they know treats and surprises will be found in their vehicle! The days the grandparents are here are usually spent doing such things as planting flowers, helping with chores, working on crafts and projects, and taking trips to Meijer for groceries and “snoops” (treats).
The kids are not the only ones spoiled by their love. Often Miriam and I come down in the morning to find Papa and HooHoo have been up for some time already, with the laundry washed and folded, the coffee ready and hot, and the breakfast table set. Though Papa throughout the day would pause from his work to play games with the children or watch a movie with us, it was more difficult to slow down HooHoo in her perpetual motion to accomplish the next task. Meals were about the only time she would rest, as we laughed as she told story after story of life growing up in the poor section of town as a daughter of a butcher.
Perhaps it is because of all of this love from their strength through the years that I find myself touched so deeply in seeing their love for one another now that some of the weaknesses of old age have come upon them. HooHoo, who in her early seventies was still putting on roller blades and gliding gracefully around the driveway with the grandkids, is now pretty bent over from a combination of scoliosis and osteoporosis. With no complaint heard, a few months ago they sold their beautiful home near lake and woods to move into an assisted living apartment. HooHoo bears her affliction gracefully, and often in response to her struggles brings up a Scripture or lesson from the Boice commentary on the Psalms she loves so well. As she struggles more and more with daily tasks, Papa is right there by her side to help with clothes, or hair, or sitting, or standing…speaking gently to her about whatever needs to be done. I’m hearing less of Jethro in Papa these days, but I’m seeing and hearing more of the Christ who so tenderly cares for His bride despite all her weaknesses.
All of this came to mind recently as I watched the video below about another elderly man caring for his wife who is even more afflicted. In these days, which are sadly too much like the ones of Malachi where men so readily forsake the wives of their youth, we need models like these. Below the first video is an older one of another godly example, that of President Robert McQuilken of Columbia Bible College, explaining to the Board of Trustees why he was giving his resignation so that he could care for his wife.