Remembering our biggest fans — Mom and Dad
I missed the rebound by just about an inch. A much taller 7th grader from Our Lady of Lourdes beat me to it. That was bad, but what was worse was that on the way down I lost my balance and tripped, landing flat on my face. More embarrassing still, was that before I even got up I heard a familiar voice yell, “Hey-yo thatta boy, great hustle…” with all the earnestness it could muster up.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been inside of St. Antoninus’ Savio Hall gymnasium, but it is not a huge place. Certainly it is large enough and nice enough to be a good grade school basketball facility, but even with a record crowd you can pick out the voice of any particular cheering parent.
The “hey-yo” guy was my dad. Some of you in the archdiocese may know George Stegeman. He’s currently the Music Director at Guardian Angels Church. Before that he was at Little Flower and before that he was somewhere else. Point is, while he’s been around the archdiocese as a music director for a long time, he was always a fan first at St. Antoninus.
Dad worked weekends, of course, so he wasn’t at near as many games as mom. Marilyn Stegeman, currently employed part of the St. Antoninus after-school program, was truly a constant presence courtside at Savio Hall or on the sidelines of Schott Field. Mom would cheer and yell at times too, but she’d also provide quiet support. When I was a little kid, bored during a soccer game because I was playing fullback and the ball was elsewhere, I’d look up on the hill near the parking lot and find mom sitting there. She would be holding a book, but whenever I looked up she wasn’t reading it. Rather, she’d smile at me, or nod, or otherwise acknowledge me, letting me know I had a fan.
Dad’s cheers were more embarrassing at the time (though Mom had her moments), but as an adult I appreciate both of their approaches.
Last month we celebrated Mother’s Day and this month is Father’s Day. While both are secular holidays, they provide us an excellent opportunity to follow the fourth commandment.
No parent-child relationship is stress free, and sometimes we argue or fight. It happens. But no matter how challenging a relationship has been, or how challenging it continues to be, these days are a chance to remind ourselves what we owe them. We owe them our lives, since they created us, or in the case of adopted parents, provided for us. We owe them our love, as they loved and continue to love us. We owe them our support and care as they age, as they supported and cared for us when we were young.
On Mother’s Day, I remember when I was young and not so comfortable socially that mom said, “If you ever need me, I will always come get you.” I called her on that, and she came through more than once.
On Father’s Day, I remember dad’s smile when I finally won my first (and sadly only) high school wrestling match. He cheered pretty loud that day, and I wasn’t embarrassed one bit.
It is good to remember these things on their special days, and to thank them, but the commandment doesn’t apply to just two days a year. We are called to honor our parents year round. We don’t always succeed, because we aren’t perfect. Lord knows, our parents aren’t perfect either, but we’re not called to be perfect. We are called to obey Deuteronomy 5:16, “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you…”
That seventh grade boy lying face down on a basketball court was embarrassed to hear his dad’s cheer. This 29-year old man with his own child on the way has a different view.
Thanks mom and dad for every cheer, every ride to a game, every post-game orange slice or pretzel stick, and for always being there.
Happy Mother’s Day a bit late to all the moms in the archdiocese, and happy Father’s Day to all the dads. We wouldn’t be here without you.