Road trip the other day, satellite radio…

listening to Harry Chapin’s Cats in the Cradle with its famous lyrics of reaping what you sow and what is it you want to reap in life? 

Are you planting the right things today for what you want to harvest tomorrow?

I always felt sad for the father in this song who wasted his child’s life. That dad spent his time working or doing other things instead of paying attention to his son. He missed enjoying precious moments with his child.

I was, and am, thankful for every moment our parents spent absolutely goofing off with us. We kids had chores we were responsible for weekly. Their first three children, so close in age, had a few screaming battles and fights. I know that, but what I choose to remember is the fun. 

Ohmigosh, did we have fun.

We played badminton over the clothes line—usually when Mom’s clean laundry was not drying on it. One summer we wanted to play tennis, so Dad plowed and scraped and packed part of the old hay field and we had a tennis court. When our tennis days were over, it became a field again.

Some Sundays, we spent time lying on our backs in the grass. Dad could challenge us with, “What does that cloud look like? And that one?”

Once Dad got a computer and digital camera, he sent us kids photographs of the Pennsylvania clouds. He still loved playing this game with him—right until the end of his life. 

Games and lessons

Our parents challenged us to croquet matches (Dad usually won) with us. Mom taught us to play card games, and Scrabble (she massacred us every time), and made sure we had books.

Did our family have money? Not much extra. 

But we always enough food, always enough clothing—we never wanted for any “stuff.” 

But more than any of those things, we had our parents’ attention. Their full attention.

With our folks gone, isn’t it great that we kids choose to remember the happy times? We focus on the fun letting go of the typical gripes and grievances of childhood. Like all parents, ours made it up as they went along and we turned out pretty good. 

Our memories is of our folks being active in our lives versus vying for attention against a parent distracted by things. We sure won the parental lottery, unlike Harry’s little kid.


I’m grateful this Thanksgiving for what our parents gave us: unconditional love.

Happy Thanksgiving!




Read: Life is about choices