The 5th Commandment

Mom n Dad

As a blogger writing about things that happen to me or around me on life’s pathways it ends up my life is an open book. I’m ok with that, because the things that happen daily and even those from my past produce life lessons which, when shared, can be an encouragement to my readers. So today I write about my father. If you have read my life story in my series of blogs started back on August 4th about “Bud” then you might remember what I shared about my father which was not very flattering to say the least, though it was true. It’s just that there was much more to his story as with everyone. So I’d like to share a portion of his story and draw from it a lesson or two.

See Bud’s Beginning at:

A heartwarming part of the story is that my mom and dad’s journey began kind of like the fairy tale Cinderella. Irene was from a very very poor family practically destitute during the Great Depression. Over the Blue Mountain in the valley north of their home was a kind and generous country store keeper by the name of A. J. Wolfe who allowed people, during these hard times, to buy things they needed to survive on the “tick” or credit. AJ had a grandson Warren, who they nicknamed Barney. Irene & Barney’s fathers were both named Clarence and the two Clarence’s liked to tip the bottle together. Irene’s father thought it would be a great thing if his firstborn daughter Irene would hitch up with Barney since the Wolfe’s were considered rich in that day, and in fact it wasn’t too long afterward that Irene and Barney did fall in love.

They were both nineteen when they came out of a movie theater on Cumberland Street in Lebanon, the word was on the street that we had been surprise attacked by the Japanese, Sunday, December 7th 1941 at Pearl Harbor. They were married just a few short months later on February 28th 1942. But, even though Barney had gotten married, he was still drafted into the Army in November 1942.  Their first son Warren was born April 13th 1943 and then Larry came along on December 31, 1944. Sixteen days later Barney left for Germany to take part in the aftermath of ‘The Battle of the Bulge’. The Bulge represented the great mass of German forces that were assembled in the snowy forests of the Rhineland. He was in the infantry and was a mail clerk/carrier which was his primary job while he was a foot soldier in the infantry.

Like the rest of his buddies he was  involved in the liberation of Buchenwald, a Nazi concentration camp and was part of the Allied army that pushed the Germans back toward Berlin at the end of the European campaign against Hitler and his forces. History records that the worst snowfall/winter occurred that year making combat/living very difficult!

But, Barney survived and received an honorable discharge October 9th, 1945 along with a Good Conduct Medal and a European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and was discharged in Camp Cooke California. He rode a train cross-country to Pennsylvania in order to get home to see his father before he died. His father passed away later the same month from sclerosis of the liver at only 45 years of age! Unfortunately, this is where our history turns downward, for in the years following, Barney too became addicted to alcohol which ruined his life, and greatly affected our Mom and the rest of our family.

There were many low points but I choose to remember the highs, like when we would travel in the family car and sing “Side by Side” with mom and dad doing the harmony and us kids just singing along side by side. Or the time when they would be making up from one of their fights by taking us on a picnic to St. Joseph Springs. While us kids tried to catch trout with just a piece of line, a hook and dough balls, they’d make out on a blanket. It was embarrassing! Ha! Ha!

You’ve heard the saying “walk a mile in my shoes”? Well that’s one of the lessons. My dad lost his dad when he was only twenty-three years old. He saw him shrivel away from alcoholism and when he was in the Army it was the cool thing to party and drink with his buddies. Unfortunately that habit came along home with him in addition to the awful memories of war. His brother Clarence said he was a totally changed man unfortunately for the worse when he came home.

The Bible says in the 5th Commandment to “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12. After I trusted Christ as my Savior the Lord put it upon my heart to reconcile with my dad. Even though there were scars of bad memories I knew I had been forgiven of all my sins and the Lord expected me to forgive everyone else as He had forgiven me. In addition, we had three young sons who to this point did not know their only grandfather, since my wife JoJo’s dad had died in a plane crash when she was only two years old.

Dad & Twins2

Me and my twin brother Bruce with our Dad around 1954

So we began visiting him and I told my dad that I forgave him and he accepted my forgiveness with tears in his eyes. Our sons loved their grandpa and his little “sausage dog” which seemed to always be sitting on his lap. He visited my home only once and I can still see him sitting at our kitchen table when I asked him about his faith in Jesus. He told me of the time when had gone forward to the altar during revival meetings in the little Church of God that sat adjacent to his childhood home. He knew he had strayed from the faith many a time but he had come home. He told me his favorite hymn was “Softly and Tenderly” which the chorus appropriately says, “Come home, come home. You who are weary come home. Earnestly tenderly Jesus is calling, calling O sinners come home.”

We had all too few years together, maybe five at the most, when at the young age of 63 Barney did go home. His Cinderella, Irene joined him six years later in 1991. I’m pretty sure they’ve made up by now.

How about you? Have you honored your parents? God didn’t put any conditions on His commandment. He didn’t say honor your parents IF they do this or that. No, in fact, He attached a blessing if we DO honor our parents! I’d go as far as to say if your parents are gone and there is still an offense which remains, forgive them and you will be the one set free.

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