Spending the Easter weekend with my mother, who celebrated her 86th birthday, and rarely leaving her side for a week was truly an eye-opener. Just as the average newborn baby sleeps about 20 hours daily and does not produce much in their environment, so as one ages the amount of time one sleeps increases while productivity decreases. And so the elderly rapidly approach the same existence they experienced when they were rst brought into the world.

For the most part, we have no problem caring for newborn babies; we should care for the elderly as they approach the terminal stages of their lives. It is tragic when children abandon their parents and grandparents at the very time when those individuals are at their most vulnerable.

Gov. John Kasich of Ohio was on “Meet the Press” this past Sunday talking about some of the innovative ways in which Ohio was making ends meet.

One method that he mentioned was encouraging families to care for their elderly rather than sending them to a nursing home. As might be expected, costs went way down and satisfaction went way up.

Not only is this a clever, truly conservative way of making scal common sense, it is a more moral approach, one that treats parents not as a burden but as a blessing.

We must not forget, as our parents age and come to depend on us more and more, that many people do not have parents still living and that they would gladly trade places with us, for who can replace a parent? What can compare with the bond of a son or daughter with the parents who brought them into this world? Is the mystery ever lost in that relationship?

Indeed not. Every day is a blessing–and that includes not only our own lives, but the lives of those around us. G.K. Chesterton rightly pointed out that while some people are has-beens, everyone is a might-not-have-been, and we should celebrate the wonderful fact that we have life despite how

easily we could simply not have existed at all! Like the song goes, “How strange it is to be anything at all!” I am fascinated with the way that small children take on their own personalities, often differing from both of their parents or mixing their qualities. I never cease to marvel that each one really is his own person with his own thoughts, his own feelings and perspectives on this world that he is just meeting for the rst time.

My point here is that everyone you meet is completely irreplaceable, no matter if science nds out a way to perfectly clone people tomorrow. You don’t have to believe in God to believe that everyone is unique, special and has an innate beauty to offer the world. If we do believe in God, it should

be all the more imperative to us that we have an obligation to others, especially to the dependent.

The metaphor used most often in the Bible is that of the family–we are God’s family, He is our Father, we are all brothers and sisters. God is more intimate with our souls than a husband and wife and so on. Life is about learning to love, and each of the stages of life has its own lessons to offer.

Being a parent teaches us the inexplicable delight and joy that God has for each one of us, notwithstanding that we can never repay Him for creating us! Similarly, we can never repay our parents, and caring for them is an

opportunity to experience what they felt for us–simply cherishing the fact that we exist, that we are theirs. The way a mother looks at her newborn–staring, adoring– is the way that God looks at each and every one of us.

The experience of caring for someone helpless is a fast means of entering into God’s mystery and His joy.

With this in mind, it should be obviously unconscionable to abandon our parents, to whom we owe our marvelously unique, irreplaceable lives. If you are blessed enough to still have parents living on this earth, make sure that they know that you love them and are grateful to them.

You’ll never pay them back no matter what–just let them de-

light in you.

Armstrong Williams content can be found on RightSideWire.com. He

is also the author of the new book “Reawakening Virtues.” Come join the discussion live 4-5 p.m., 6-8 p.m. ET at www.livestream.com/

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