To honor Tom's parents at their 50th Anniversary celebration he wrote a tribute and read it to them at their party...
Dear Mom and Dad,
I have been truly blessed to have had you as parents. And as we celebrate your 50th Anniversary, I have been thinking a lot about you both, and I want to honor you today in the presence of family and friends and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
You have gone the distance, and although you haven't finished the course yet, you have set a great pace to finish well. You could have called it quits many times, but you didn't. I'm proud of you for sticking it out and staying committed to one another and to our family. I have learned from you that divorce isn't an option.
I have learned the importance of family from you both--and faith. Mom, you made sacrifices by staying home with us kids. I remember fondly home-cooked meals (excluding liver), the smell of fried chicken in the well-scrubbed kitchen, black-eyed peas, fresh rolls--the wonderful pitcher of sweet tea--which is still a staple in our family's home today. I remember times at the Sawdust Pile singing praises to Jesus. What I don't remember is all the hard work--diapers before disposable...cleaning up throw-up or nursing me through fevers. I love you Mom.
Thanks to you both for taking us kids to church and letting me go to the Billy Graham Crusade where I heard God's call to faith. Dad, thanks for being there for me--coaching little league, massaging leg cramps at night and continuing to model a godly father and husband, taking care of Mom when she had health issues, praying for our family and yours, and taking me to Promise Keepers with Sean and Fred, continuing to study and teach the Bible...Love is a choice, whether you are showing that love to Mom or helping to take care of your mom. I have great respect for you Dad.
I have learned hard work and helping others through you and mom.
Mom and Dad, thanks for the fun times....Disney, 6 Flags, Tweetsie Railroad, times at Morehead and Atlantic Beach growing up...body surfing, catching crabs, getting sunburned, playing cards. Then as we got older and moved to Washington, there were many water skiing with the Burks, snow skiing at Timberline...boy scout trips with you Dad. All of these are sweet memories.
Thanks for not killing me...I mean there were ample opportunities, and these are just scratching the surface...like when I almost burned the woods down playing with matches; the many times that I was not-so-nice to my siblings...like the jalapeno episode with Sean...There were also teacher episodes and the police episode when for some reason I thought windows in a nearby building were for target practice throwing rocks. Later on, dropping out of college--flipping burgers was a wake-up call that maybe a college education wasn't such a bad idea after all...my parents could really give helpful advice--I only wished I would have listened sooner.
Life wasn't perfect in our home growing up, but I felt loved. You gave me freedom to fail but great encouragement to succeed. You have always loved me and that has been huge in my life. And you have prayed for me. To have you as Mom and you as Dad has made me what I am today. I hope I can show the same love and commitment to my wife and family as you have modeled. I love you Mom and Dad.
(If you are interested in finding out about honoring your parents or writing a tribute a great resource is The Best Gift You Can Ever Give Your Parents by Dennis Rainey and Dave Boehi.)