Kathy Hendricks offers talks and retreats across the country and overseas on spirituality and family, and is a contributing writer for many of the programs published by William H. Sadlier. She and her husband, Ron, live in Larkspur, Colorado, and are the parents of two young adults, Eric and Anna.
The Hope of a Parent
Ron, and I planted daffodil bulbs around our house just in time. The first snow of the season fell a few days later. Over the next several months I'll mostly forget about them, until one day in spring when they will emerge in unexpected fashion. To top it off, they will reappear each year, making our modest efforts all the more rewarding. Daffodils are a gift for the future.
I watched a documentary recently about Vincent Van Gogh, an artist whose hope for success and recognition was never realized in his lifetime. What would he make of the fact that he is now one of the most famous artists of all time? Could he have imagined that his works would sell for astronomical prices, that his renderings of sunflowers and starry nights would be placed on coffee mugs and t-shirts, or that his life story would be told in films, books, and songs?
Whenever I talk to my children, I marvel at the interesting people they have become and the admirable way they go about their work and their lives. I think back to those not-so-long ago days when they were toddlers. How could I have imagined the bright and accomplished people they would grow to be?
Being a parent is like planting daffodils. We till the ground and plant the bulbs, and then watch in awe at what emerges, often much later and in more wondrous ways than we could have imagined. Many of us also marvel at the irony in the process. The strong-willed child who grows more laid-back with the years. The shrinking violet who lets her colors shine. The rebellious adolescent who becomes a loving and responsible father.
This past week I learned of the death of a young woman, the daughter of an acquaintance who died suddenly and under tragic circumstances. Life doesn't always turn out as we'd hoped, and the anguish over the results runs deep and unabated. Vincent Van Gogh was a tortured man who was considered insane by his own mother. Given his erratic behavior, which modern day scholars now attribute to a rare form of epilepsy, it's no wonder that she gave up on him. How could she have imagined what beautiful works of art he was creating for future generations?
"For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope." (Jeremiah 29:11) These words from an ancient prophet sum up the trust that one must have in the bigger picture and for the day when, against all odds, the daffodils bloom. Such is the hope of a parent.