S: "Letters from the Heart"
FC: "Letters from the Heart" | September 2011
1: Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
4: Dear Mom and Dad, I have forever been grateful to have the privilege to be your child - as Dad always says, the "eldest child!" As I think back over the years of childhood, college, marriage, children and grandchildren I see your character, example, sayings and modeling each day in my life. Mom, I also hear almost weekly how much I look like you and that is such a compliment. As a child, I remember Dad coming home from work each day, sitting in the chair with his newspaper and a bowl of ice cream. Mom would come home with a short kiss and move to the kitchen for dinner. I learned that consistency and structure is good. Among some of my fondest meal memories include sukiyaki and pill peas with milk. I can still hear Dad's words each night- "tell your mother good dinner."
5: What we didn't realize at the time is the sacrifice you both gave to put that dinner on the table for 3 often ungrateful children. You taught me responsibility through "doing dishes," cleaning house before I could go shopping on Saturdays, and giving of my time to others. I never remember feeling that we did not have money or that our needs were not met. You kept the stress of paying bills, fixing cars, working full-time, involvement in the Church and raising 3 kids in such perspective that it never crept into my childhood. I did not realize that going to the gas station for a cardboard "toy box" was a necessity since you presented it as an adventure. I learned to put material wants in perspective. Summer vacations were always a highlight. I remember the laughs, "slow down train," talking on freckle telephones, songs we sang together and games we played in the car such as "who stole the cookie from the cookie jar." Those memories, along with the sites we got to see in Colorado and Washington D.C., stand out as well as the many camping trips. You made spending time together a priority and taught me that family is your backbone. The ski trips with all the kids and grandkids bring back fond memories. I learned that sacrifice during the year to be together as a family is critical and is an excellent way to teach character and values. I also have learned by watching Aunt Pat, Aunt Gerry and Mom have lunch each week that taking time for siblings is a critical aspect of keeping a family close. I don't ever remember wondering if we would go to Church on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights and Wednesday nights. The expectation was there and I didn't question it, although I did question sometimes if we would arrive safely in the Volkswagen. As I look back over my childhood, I see two people that had time for the Lord and His work while modeling Christian parenting, marriage, tithing and relationships. As I went off to college, I remember you asking me if I packed my Bible. What a silly question I thought but later went back and packed it in my last box. The expectation that God was not to be left behind has stayed with me for many years. I learned to trust and rely on the same God you serve. After dating Tommy for a few months, I told you that we wanted to get married (actually we decided after 3 weeks but thought it best to wait a little while to tell you). I knew your expectation was that I finish college but "love" was calling. After tears of joy you stated that I would still finish college and you would continue to pay for it. Little did you know
6: that paying for college would include childcare for two grandchildren as well. Your money was spent well and without it I would surely have quit. I have tried to model that same expectation for my children through the years as "your only choice is WHAT college you will attend - not IF you will attend college." I will follow your example of giving my grandchildren "walking around money" while they are in college and helping support them with financial assistance. You taught me that personal sacrifice for the sake of my children and grandchildren is worthwhile. I have learned how to be a parent and grandparent by watching you through times at the lake house, attending grandkid events, trips to Baylor, ski trips and countless talks, tears and laughs. You have taught me that giving time to my children is the greatest reward on earth. You modeled that children need your presence, not your presents. I learned that raising children is hard work but through responsibility, humor, expectations, sacrifice and patience my children have grown into wonderful adults that also model your character. There are very few times that you did not attend the kid's extra-curricular events. Not only did Brian and Kristin look forward to seeing you, but their friends did also. You became grandparents to many LaPorte and Baylor kids over the years! If you were unable to attend a function their friends would ask, "Where's Mimi and Grandad?" You have been such a solid force in the lives of my children and I strive to be such a grandparent. When we found out Riley was going to be born, I remember a conversation in your living room where you said, "one of the greatest joys in life is watching your children be good parents." What an awesome compliment and also such a true statement I have seen come to fruition. As I look at each of my grandchildren I see parts of you as well. Riley has Mom's attention to detail and precision, Mason has Dad's quick wit and humor, and Colton has Dad's love of laughter. I pray that I can be the kind of grandparent you have been over the years. As I reflect back over my life I see your influence each day. Mom, you have taught me to see the beauty in little things in life, take the time to create, be a woman servant to others before myself, and "anything worth doing is worth doing right." Dad, you have taught me to see the humor in life and in myself, "that it is not a perfect world," look for the good in
7: people before the bad, and the importance of building relationships with those around me. I have learned to be a leader by watching you over the years. A leader is one that does not live in the limelight but works tirelessly behind the scenes to promote the skills of others. The Christian home you provided and the solid parenting have molded me into the woman I am today. I love how our relationship has moved from child to friend. I have never doubted your love for me. I am so appreciative for all of the positive encouraging words you have given me over the years, both as a child and an adult. Thank you for being parents that taught me gratitude, forgiveness and humility. You are my heroes and I am so blessed to call you Mom and Dad. I love you, Sherry
8: Dear Mom and Dad, I have so many wonderful memories of childhood. It is no wonder that we all love to reminisce about our favorite memories.
9: Here are a few of my favorite memories: * Dad taking me and my friends to wrap houses at my slumber party. Even made the front page of the newspaper - "Taint funny folks!" * Having to stack Encyclopedia's on the TV so that it would work. The stack kept growing as the TV got worse. Got to the point we were having to remove 12 dictionaries from the TV every time we wanted to change the channel! * Always wanting to be with Mom when I was sick. She was so comforting! * Dad teaching me to drive on the back road when the Moose Lodge let out. They were peeling out on both sides of the street! * Sherry driving both of us to Church in the Volkswagen and both of us prayed for green lights! She had a lot... of stalls! * Mom peeling out in the car and Dad and I were cracking up! * Dan always playing tricks on me... like pouring out my OJ's Beauty Lotion and replacing it with water. * Eating dinner with Dad on Tuesday evenings at Los Amigos. I wasn't allowed to look at the menu - had to get the "Tuesday Night Enchilada Special!" * Shopping trips with Mom. She was cool and let me wear what was in style! * Watching Dad mow the backyard from the upstairs bedroom. Every part on the mower was "rigged" or "tied" on. He had to stop every row to repair a part!
10: We had so many fun times as a family and there was always something to laugh about. I recently came across my journal that I wrote when I was in junior high. It was fun reading it and taking a walk down memory lane. We spent so much time as a family and had so many fun activities and trips. In reading my journal, it was clear that South Main youth group was the focus of my social life with friends. I had such a good group of Christian friends. Thank you for raising us as an active part of the Church. The youth choir trips were a highlight for me. I am sure it was a financial burden for you at the time, however, I never missed a trip and for that I am grateful. I can look back as an adult and see how much you sacrificed for the three of us. Mom, I can still picture you in your upstairs bathroom doing that little trick with your mascara to make it last longer so you didn't have to buy a new tube. You always put our needs before yours. Dad, I am positive a new lawnmower would have made life easier for you, but you never seemed to mind that you had to use your equipment until it literally fell apart. As frustrating as your old equipment was, I never heard a cuss word come out of your mouth. As I remember it, "John Brown!" was the extent of your words of frustration. In spite of your work schedules and taking care of 3 kids, you both always found time to sit down for our family dinner every evening. Mom, you were as good of a cook then as you are now. You must have been so exhausted after work every day to fix such awesome dinners, but you did it anyway. Dad, I still remember how diligent you were about making our school lunches every day (a little more meat on the sandwiches would have been nice, but it's the thought that counts!) I remember when I was in college being called up to the stage at Church during our Wednesday evening Thanksgiving dinner. Several of us were called up and none of us had any advanced notice. We were each asked to tell what we were most thankful for. I remember this like it was yesterday. My answer was that I was most thankful for my family. I had been off at college and had volunteered to work at an orphanage. I found out just how fortunate I was to be a part of the McManus family. Since that time, I have always thanked God for my family.
11: Thank you for teaching me the meaning of "sacrifice" so that it was a natural instinct when raising my own children. I don't think I even realized how much I did sacrifice for my girls. I just loved them so much that it is what I wanted to do and what you had always done for us. I am extremely grateful to both of you for being such an active part of my daughters lives. Whether their games were "home" or "away", there you were - up in the stands cheering them on! The girls loved looking up in the stands and seeing Mimi and Grandad! I will always remember Dad's advice.... to the Coaches if Jennifer or Brittany were on the bench when Dad would clap and holler "Ok - bring out the big guns - bring out the big guns!" Dad, you became a father figure for my daughters. I didn't even have to ask, you just took care of their needs and also became the man of the house for many years, taking care of house repairs and yard work. I will forever be grateful for your contribution for so many years. I could not have run the household without your help during those years. Mom, thank you for being such a tremendous support system for the girls. They just needed the comfort of Mimi during those years. You were always so considerate (and patient...) to take the girls shopping so they could pick out the "perfect" birthday or Christmas gift for me when you knew it meant so much to them. It meant so much to me too. Your home was always a safe haven for me to come when life got overwhelming. I thank you for your endless prayers and encouragement for so many years. Mom, thank you for your open arms. I always knew I could just fall into your arms and not say a word. There was nothing more comforting than your arms when life got tough. You have been the best parents I could ever ask for. I love you both so deeply and am so grateful that God gave each of you the talents to be such amazing parents and grandparents.
12: Dad, a number of years ago, you gave me a book and ask me to read it. You knew I didn't read books, but you said "just read it for me." How could I not read the book after everything you had done for me? I read "The Purpose Driven Life" from front cover to back cover just for you. Dad, that book changed my life. I began seeing life differently. I realized that during the time I didn't feel God's presence in my life, He was patiently waiting for me to make a move back toward him, gently tugging at my heart all along the way. So many times over the previous years, a message used to play through my head. It never made sense to me. The message was "I just want to go home." It never made sense to me because I was always out having such a good time when it would happen. Then one day it happened again, "I just want to go home." But I was at home - I was in my kitchen.... It was then that I realized that I wasn't "at home" in my heart. I didn't have the close relationship with God that I once had - I no longer had peace in my heart. I began a journey and followed the light all the way "home." I am grateful that you gave me the book and said "just read it for me." I have sense shared the book with both of my daughters with the message that I hope it touches their hearts as much as it did mine. The most important thing I have learned in life, I learned from both of you - unconditional love. Thank you for not only teaching me the meaning of unconditional love of a parent, but for providing me with a Christian background so that I could understand the meaning of unconditional love of Jesus Christ when I needed it the most. Whether it is the unconditional love of a parent or the unconditional love of Jesus Christ, the principle is the same: No matter where you are, No matter what you've done, No matter who you've become, "Come home" I am amazed that God is so "gracious" to let me be your daughter, to let me have two amazing beautiful daughters to call my own, to allow me to watch "my babies" have babies together, to allow me to find a husband that I love so much and that takes care
13: of me like you did for so many years and to have a precious step-daughter too, to have a sister and brother who's love and support for me has never waivered and to have a brother and sister-in-law and neices and nephews that I love so much and that love me in return. I know that God's gifts to me are also gifts to you. Mom and Dad, you are both everything I aspire to be as a parent of grown children, as a grandparent, and as a person. You are everything I aspire to be as a Christian. "He's helped me to realize that I'm further than I once was - I just keep saying out loud "I'm getting closer." I keep on walking - still have miles to go, but as I look back on my long and narrow road - I'm getting closer..." I am so glad that you were both able to retire at an early stage of life. You both worked hard for so many years. I admire your outlook on retirement. Retirement to you hasn't just meant that you have more time for golf or shopping, or that you are just tired or "re-tired" after working for so many years. It has meant that you have more time to serve God and others. I have had so many wonderful phone conversations with you over the years. But I also have wonderful memories of calling and one of you wasn't home. Mom was working at the Food Pantry, helping with a Church function or delivering home cooked meals to those in need. Dad was making hospital visits or taking the less fortunate to Dr. appointments. We love to tease Dad about how much time he spends cleaning up the Church grounds as opposed to his own yard.... Dad, in all reality, I can't even imagine how proud our Heavenly Father must be watching your "labor of love." Seeing how important it is to you that the Church grounds are in tip top shape for Worship Service in honor of "Him." I told Mom recently how thankful I am that both of you are in such good health in your later years. Mom replied with something I will never forget, "Yes, God has blessed us with good health and we use our good health to give back to Him." And in doing so, he just keeps on giving back to you. I have learned so much since the time I stood on the Church stage and talked about how thankful I am for my family. I no longer just thank God for my family. In addition, I thank Him that my Mom and Dad love "Him" so much. It is the foundation of our family.
14: I love the way Dad recently said, "On any given Sunday, there is a tremendous chance that all of our children will be in Church. And on any given Sunday, there is a tremendous chance that all of our grandchildren and great grandchildren will be in Church." Your greatest accomplishment in life, and the one that I know brings you the most comfort and joy, is that all of your children and all of your grandchildren are Christians. Each of our spouses are Christians and your grandchildren are each committed to raising their children in Christian homes. There is nothing greater for any of us than knowing that one day we will all spend eternity together in heaven. "When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be. When we all see Jesus, we'll sing and shout the victory!" I love you both dearly, Becky
16: Dear Mom and Dad, I would like to take this opportunity to give you a few specifics on what all you have done for me and what you have meant to me throughout my lifetime.
17: Mom, I would like to start with you. As a very small boy I have several vivid memories of you with many of them involving the various motherly duties and all of these memories are pleasant and memorable. Between the homemade birthday cakes and homemade lunches and dinners, you were always the faithful servant who worked tirelessly on behalf of your family and you were always looking for ways to love and affirm me. The memory of you in our house on Dartmouth sitting down in front of baskets of recently washed shirts and pants that had to be ironed. You ironed for what seemed to be hours at a time. I would watch you make the occasional glance at the stacks of clothes still to be done and you would wipe the sweat off your upper lip and keep on ironing. Back then house work and laundry was hard physical work and you did it so well and so faithfully. You were a marvel to watch. As I got older, I realized that my best time to talk to you was when you were ironing. You appeared to be my captive audience with no easy means of escape. As I grew older and transitioned from small boy to older boy, I watched you faithfully perform the same motherly duties. Time passed, our home address changed and we were all growing up. By now I am in serious need of encouragement. The school years began taking its toll on me, but what the school took away you gave back to me in the form of encouragement and back scratches. I remember one Saturday rooting around in your jewelry box and found this beautiful black band and diamond watch that was not ticking. I wound the stem on the watch back and forth and it came to life. I ran downstairs to show you my brilliant work and as you looked over the ticking watch, and with great excitement and big brilliant blue eyes, you looked at me and exclaimed "this watch hasn't worked in years - how did you fix it?" With a puffed up chest and a proud look I enthusiastically yelled "I wound it!" You responded by telling me that I was a natural mechanic and if I could fix that watch I could probably fix just about anything. I ran back upstairs to return the watch to its jewelry box and never did I consider the fact that nobody in our family had a battery operated watch. What was important to me was you refilled my empty cup of optimism and hope. Your encouraging words got me through another day and gave me a glimmer of hope for the next day.
18: The teenage years came and found me to be a worthless mechanic. There was one shining moment that was literally life changing for me. There you were, sitting on the deacon's bench ironing clothes and I was in need of some serious encouragement. I was sixteen years old and sat down and struck up a conversation and in that conversation you told me these exact words. "When I was pregnant with you and even before you were born I always knew that you were going to be special, and you are." The moment you spoke those words was as if the heavens opened and the angels played their trumpets. I immediately stood up and repeated to myself..."I'm going to be special, I'm going to be special! I better get ready!" I had no idea how to do this or what it meant, but I was committed to doing it. Realistically, I had very little to look forward to but now that I was going to be special I not only had a future, but an important future that would demand the best of me. I began devouring self-improvement books and the constant stream of "how-to" books. In retrospect, reading my school books would have been more helpful, but nonetheless, I put down my B.C. and Beatle Bailey comic books and graduated to the adult world of learning that has not left me to this day. I was telling someone this story a few years ago and immediately after telling the story I began to laugh when I finally realized that all mothers think their children are special. My point to the story is this. You were the only one who could have spoken those words to me and I not only believed them, but took immediate action. I literally pulled strength, hope and enthusiasm from your confidence in my intended future. When your mother speaks loving and encouraging words to you how can you not believe them? The mother-son relationship is very special. I don't recall us ever talking about "girls" or what kind of girl to be attracted to or what kind to stay away from, but I knew what kind I wanted. She would have to be very pretty, very sweet, feminine and a very supportive woman who could patiently deal with me and my peculiar ways. I found her on my first attempt. When you have a pretty, sweet, patient and supportive mother why would you want any other type of woman as a wife? Mom, while growing up and watching you interact with our neighbors and the Church family, you always appeared to me to be the Queen Mother in our world. From my earliest memory I was always so proud to have you as a Mother. Our home was always clean and lovely and peaceful and enjoyable. The family dinners that you slaved over were like a daily salve for my soul. I'm
19: sure to you it was just unappreciated work, but to me it was a safe place and for all of us to sit at the dinner table was just like a big heaping of love given to me on a daily basis. In retrospect, the memories I love the most and needed the most all seem to be the task that society makes the most fun of and mocks women for filling the stereotypical role, but to me it looked like and felt like love. I know you cooked those thousands of meals and washed thousands of loads of clothes because you loved us and I deeply appreciated your hard work and sacrifice to take care of your family. Thank you. Dad, I was definitely a mamma's boy in my childhood years but even when I was clinging to her apron strings, I was watching you from afar. As a small boy I always knew that you would be the one to teach me how to be a man and how to "do life." I should listen to you and rely on you to help me grow and mature and it was a matter of time until our time would come. Until then I would just stand in the wings and watch and listen. In some ways we are so alike and in others we are nearly opposite, but it was always so easy and enjoyable to be with you. Whether it was throwing the football around or playing ping-pong for hours at a time on Saturday, it was always good to be with you. As I grew older, I preferred your company over the best of my friends. Both of us hated doing yard work and neither of us had any mechanical aptitude or desire to work with our hands and since neither of us wanted a hobby that pretty much ruled out doing anything. Life was good. Life was simple and enjoyable. You always had plenty of time for me and I am extremely grateful for that. The older I became, the more I wanted to spend time with you. My favorite day of the week was Wednesdays. Mom and the girls went home after Church to do homework and I stayed with you and ran around the Church while you were in choir practice. It was a long hour or so of waiting, but once we got in the car I had you all to myself and immediately the game began. What would it take to make you stop by that ratty old Dairy Queen on the way home? Would it be mentioning how good a cream cone would taste or would I just resort to begging? You would pretend to not be interested or say we were in a hurry, but I knew better and you always turned in at the very last minute. It was the highlight of my week. Just you and me, two buddies having an ice cream and everything seemed so right in the world. I love the quote about the quality time in a relationship when it says "you never know when it is going to happen." Mine tended to happen more on Wednesday nights and I looked forward to them very much.
20: Dad, the most incredible thing about you was your ability to look past my stupidy, irresponsibility, reckless behaviour and long history of failure. When it came time to deal with the consequences of my stupidity, you handled it so patiently and you had the ability to teach to the topic without making me feel bad about myself. The stolen street signs and blinking light comes to mind. Instead of telling me what a stupid, irresponsible and illegal act it was, you told me to take it back and put it right back where I found it. We don't steal. I drove the sign back and placed it in the middle of Richey Street. I nearly got ran over, but I put it back because you asked me to and besides I was a McManus and we don't steal. Lesson learned and I was still in the good graces of the family. The father-son relationship is special too, but it can be filled with tension. Mom was the one with the gift of encouraging words for me, but you gave me encouragement through your lifestyle. Watching you live your life and how other men, women and children interacted with you gave me a clear picture of how to live life. Without you saying much about it, I knew you valued honor, character and integrity. I always watched you very closely at how these values were lived out in your daily life. It was a thing of beauty. At my earliest understanding, and right up until the writing of this letter, I always knew these things to be true about you. I have never doubted or questioned these things through the years. I always knew that you knew God on a personal basis and you deeply enjoyed your ministry to other people. Serving other people brought a great joy to your life. And I knew you would never leave or divorce our mother. We teased you mercifully for being so cheap through the years, but we all knew you would pay any price to give us the essentials. In June of 1978, you paid $5,000.00 for my distributorship to Success Motivation Institute. My one year old Camaro cost $5,100.00. When we were meeting with Mike, my S.M.I. Rep, you asked us to be left alone in his office while we prayed about it. We kneeled at his chair and prayed for wisdom and favor. As we knelt and prayed, you prayed for wisdom and direction but I was dreaming of success and money, but I was awestruck by the beauty of the prayer and the maturity of the prayer. Upfront we both knew I would fail miserably at the venture, but you willingly went through with it.
21: For years I asked myself why you did it when you knew I would fail at it and the money would be wasted and I came to the conclusion that you gave that to me because I needed it. What a gift. Dad, I want you to know that a stronger man would have broken me and a weaker man would have simply let me go. Thank you for being the perfect father for me. Mom and Dad, I want you to know that your hard work and sacrifice was never overlooked or taken for granted. I am so grateful to have you for my parents and for your continual development through the years as parents and as husband and wife. I have no idea how you survived having me as a son, but you were the best parents a son could ask for and you have been even better grandparents to my children. What a perfect combination. Mom, I love you dearly and think the world of you as a woman and as a mother. Dad, obviously, I love you dearly as well, but more than that I admire you and respect you as a man and more so than any other man I know. In closing, I want to remove any possible feelings of guilt or regret. Neither of you have ever said or done anything that you need to apologize for or feel guilty about. You have spoken the truth to me at times and that always hurts, but you had the responsibility and privilege to do so and I love you for it. You always told me these things with love and I know you only wanted the best for me. I now know that parents of grown children have so many regrets about what they said or didn't say or how we wish we would have handled situations differently. I don't want you to think you should have done anything different with me. What you did and how you did it was perfect for me. I will always be thankful for what you have done for me and my family. You are the best parents any son could ask for. Your Devoted Son, Dan
22: Dear Mom and Doyle, 35 years ago you accepted me officially into your family by allowing me to marry your daughter. I became a son and not a son-in-law. Doyle, you are the only real dad I have ever had and have tried to pattern raising my kids after your examples.
23: Mom, I am thankful that you were the inspiration behind the Christmas presents, birthday presents and "walking around money" - we all know that it is your doing! You provided me with advice and guidance about money as a young father. We have had some wonderful conversations over the years about the Bible and God. You are always accepting of my sometimes "different" ideas. I have so many favorite Doyle stories, but here are just a few: * Playing golf, although I had to play by "The Rules According to Doyle" instead of the official PGA rules! * You and Brian thought it would be funny to throw crackers at my golf ball while I was trying to putt. About 10 ducks came over to eat the crackers. I picked up a duck and threw it into the golf cart. You and Brian almost beat each other up trying to get out of the golf cart and away from the duck. * "Small jobs" that wouldn't take long and somehow always turned into marathons - such as putting the skirt around the pilings at the lake house. * Changing your car oil in the neighborhood esplanade - I still don't understand why you were suprised that someone stole your oil pan. * Mom asked you to dig up the elephant ear plant and move it to the back of the yard. You got tired of digging so you chopped off the main root and planted it. For some reason you didn't understand why it never grew. * How was I supposed to know you are scared of birds! I asked you to feed my parakeets while we were on vacation - I returned to a lot less birds. That is when you told me you opened the door and let the loose ones fly out before you fed the caged birds. Even though you were scared of the task you did it out of love.
24: Mom, your influence has been so important in my life. You were so kind in inviting my parents to dinners, took food while they were ill, and kept the kids so Sher and I could take care of them in their later years. I see how you have trained Sher to follow in your footsteps. I never had Hawaiian Punch or Hawaiian Bread until I met you. I will always be thankful for the Velvetta Cheese you provided so Sher could make me a grilled cheese sandwich 36 years ago! We have been very blessed and it shows God's hand over our family. I believe God puts us on earth to raise our families to know Him. Each of your children and grandchildren profess your faith - your influence is great. You have done your job well. Love, Tom
25: When a Dad teaches his son, he also teaches his son's son.
26: Dear May and Doyle, I have never been good at words or expressing myself, but it really doesn't matter since there are not enough words that can express the way I feel about May and Doyle. As I sit and write, a thousand thoughts and memories come rushing in and I am at a loss of where to begin or which I should write about or even how to prioritize. It will be nearly impossible, but there is one thought that is foremost.
27: First, I want to tell you both how much I love you. I love you both for your love and acceptance. I love you for your kind and gentle ways in guiding us as a young and now as an older married couple, allowing us to fail ever so gently and letting us grow ever so strong. One of the many awesome things about the two of you is your love for other people, especially your family. This is a wonderful legacy you have passed down to all of your family and it must truly be a delight to witness. Although today is not about your children, it is however, a reflection of who you are and every mother and father should know the character that others can see in their children. Your son and daughters are strong, independent, loving, delightful, sweet, kind, gentle, but most importantly, they are Christians. You taught your children to be lovers of Christ and to love the infallible Word of God which led them to be followers of Christ. As Christians, they are compelled to love all people as Christ does regardless of their past, faults, sins, weaknesses, handicaps, age and skin. I want to thank you for raising a phenomenal son. Because of you, Dan is all this and so much more. Doyle, you are a fine man of God. Your faith in God and his Word is as solid as a rock. Perhaps that is why you say "Oh - it will ride like a rock" and you have the faith that it will. I guess somehow the two go hand-in-hand. Seriously, you should be proud of your life's work and pleased with what you have done and continue to do for your family and for our Lord. May, there is so much to say about my sweet mother-in-law and hard to describe, except to say that you are an angel. When I first married, the subject of mother-in-laws came up often at the work lunch break with all the young and not so young married ladies. I could not relate to the hardships, hurt and ugliness they experienced and could not offer any advice. This was completely incomprehensible to me since I knew nothing but sweetness
28: and love from you. In fact they would ask me about you and I would tell them how wonderful you are. I would also say you are an angel and looks like one too. In the early 80's, I carried pictures in my wallet and I would show them pictures of the two of you and they agreed, you look like an angel. You have set the standard so high for the perfect mother-in-law and I hope that I can accomplish the same results. May and Doyle, THANK YOU so much for the unconditional love you gave me, the grace you've shown me, the joy you have imparted and the genuine acceptance into the McManus family. I love you both very much, Kathy
30: Dear May and Doyle, Although I have only been in this family for a short time, I have learned what a real family is. I have seen the love that is shared by all generations and the respect that each family member has for each other.
31: I also was raised in a Christian based home, attending Church on Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday. What we didn't have was the "glue" that held us together. The foundation of this family was set up years ago when two people fell in love with the word of God, and the wisdom He gave them to start the core of what has become the McManus family. To see a group of people come together and have so much fun and laughter and share time with each other is amazing. Doyle & May, you have so much to be proud of and have been blessed with a growing family that loves and respects both of you. You are the core and pillar of this foundation and it only gets stronger with each addition to the family. I would like to take the time to let each of you know that in my short time in this family, I have grown as a person, father, husband and friend. If I can become half the core to my family that you are, I will feel blessed. Thank you for accepting me into your family and for letting me learn from two wonderful people. I love you both and am so proud to be a part of this awesome family. Love, Gery
32: Grandparents are indeed a blessing from the Lord! They bring special memories to our minds and hearts. What a wonderful gift grandparents are. Not just to the grandkids but to the parents too!
34: Dear Mimi and Grandad, We often take time to appreciate the things that are most valuable to us and more often than not, we take those things for granted. As I look back over my 33 years of life there has been an influential driving force throughout - family. Though most people state how important family is or how great their family is, I always reply "you don't have a family like mine."
35: It seems there isn't a month that goes by, whether a conversation with a friend or colleague, that I reply "well, I grew up the complete opposite." In junior high and high school my friends would jokingly call my family "the Cleavers." I never really understood why Mom and Dad liked that comment so much but I do now and I pray Colton and Sadie's friends say the same about Kristi and me. All of this started many years before Kristin and I were around by the way you raised your kids. Due to your guidance and foundation, my mom used her upbringing to influence the way we were raised. If I take a candid look at my life, I can honestly say I would not be where I am without you. As a teenager and young adult, with a tendency to stray from the straight and narrow, there was one grounding influence in my life that my peers didn't have - a Christian family who led by example. I can remember one thing that stuck with me throughout - I didn't want to disappoint Mimi and Grandad. I'm not sure you ever realized that, but your support meant the world to Kristin and me. Though at times I might not have always done right, I knew what right was. This is extremely important, because in the end when all was said and done the foundation that was laid for me is what brought me back to where I needed to be. Without the Christian guidance of you and my parents, I can't imagine where I might be, but I can tell you it wouldn't be half of what it is today. Again, my upbringing is grounded in the way you raised my mom. In addition to the Christian example you've provided, you've made other influences on my life. I'm not sure how much you realize this, but one of the most important decisions in my life, of which has directed me where I am today, was influenced by you. * College - call it fate or destiny, but at the end of the day I would not have gone to Baylor it it weren't for Grandad. Growing up and even in high school I had no idea what college was. I just knew my Mom and Dad said I had to go. I was set to go to Trinity in San Antonio when at the last minute, for reasons I really don't know to this day, I elected to go to Baylor. If it weren't for Baylor, I wouldn't have...
36: * Met Dr. Helen Ligon who introduced me to Accenture, ultimately opening the door to my career at Accenture. * Joined the Phi Delta Theta fraternity and developed the close fellowship with the friends Kristi and I have today. * Met my best friend, Scott Minzak, who introduced me to my amazing wife. Without Grandad's Baylor influence, my life's path would most likely have not led me to Accenture and definitely not to Kristi. For both of those, I'm eternally grateful. As I think back of all our times together, there are a few unforgettable moments that still make me laugh: * "My fall in ditch" * Grandad's bloody nose from the rope swing - lake house circa 1986 * Holly thorn bush leaves - old Church * Scaring Mimi in the kitchen - circa 1990 (I've yet to do it again!) * Grandad's video camera skills - circa 1991 * 13-13-13 (great on St. Augustine grass) I'm sure I can think of a few more, but I've promised Grandad through the years that I wouldn't get him in any more trouble than he gets himself into. Thank you for being the Christian example we all strive to be and for being such a positive influence in my life, as well as to all those around you. Love, Brian
39: "You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example of doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned..." Titus 2:1-8. Mimi and Grandad, I struggled with how to start this letter to show my love and appreciation, and decided the Word of God is always a good starting place. Thank you for being a fleshy image of these words. My earliest memories in life include you, for all milestones you were there. There isn't a single moment in my life that I do not see your faces full of joy and love. Since elementary school I've told people you aren't my grandparents, your "second parents" to me. Grandparents are people you see on holidays, give awkward hugs and kisses, spend a weekend with and can't wait to get back home. You have never been just grandparents. While your sacrifices, like living on a lake, may have been under appreciated, they did not go unnoticed. Thank you for always being fixtures in my life, solid Godly examples and a place of love and comfort. You've shown us the importance of family and to always stay connected. It's always a belly chuckling good time when we get together. Here are a few moments from over the years that stand out. * All the grandkids standing on the fireplace singing songs, especially "Hi, my name is Joe..." * Spending the night, building forts and eating Shipley donuts Saturday morning, although Grandad may have chosen cereal with Coke.
40: * We can't forget all eight of us piling into the Lincoln Continental for an outing to the skating rink. Ah, the good ole days before seat belts and car seats! * Trips to the lake house, including: riding the go-cart, playing "Wahoo" on the living room floor or Pictionary at the kitchen table. Swinging from the tree into the lake. (No Grandad, I didn't forget your bloody nose). * Mimi taking all the girls shopping for matching Christmas outfits. The flowered romper was a BIG hit! * Christmas Eve... "When are the adults going to stop laughing and get in here so we can open presents?" * Spring break ski trips * I loved that walking around money! One Baylor trip proved especially fruitful (or costly, depending on what side you fell). I remember saying goodbye, going back into my apartment and thinking, "are the walking around money days over?" but wait, there's a knock at the door (about 45 minutes later). It's Grandad with a double dose of walking around money! Thanks Brian for accepting my money as yours too. * Showing off my first car purchase and Grandad gunning the engine, like he didn't know that was a no-no. * Being newly married and Grandad sharing money struggles experienced as a young couple, borrowing money from the bank so you could continue to tithe. As time passed, our family adjusted to having adult grandchildren. We still get together frequently for family birthdays, special occasions and our annual family trips to the lake house have proven especially memorable. You recently entered a new phase in your life, being great-grandparents. A whole new generation is blessed to experience the love of being your great grandchildren. Riley and Mason may not understand how truly blessed they are to be born into this family yet, but they also will grow up and say, "I don't have a single childhood memory without Mimi and Grandad." Any picture that's colored, you're e
41: on the short list of people it's for. When Riley practices her letters, "Mimi" is always a name written from memory. "Grandad" is written with a bit of help. Thank you for the parents you were so I could be raised in a loving, Christian home and experience the gracious love of a mother to a child. I am committed to passing on the traditions you started and examples you set to my children so the love of Christ continues on to future generations. Mimi, I may never fully understand the sacrifices you made for your family and hard work it took to be a working mom in your day, but as I enter new phases in my life I have a deeper appreciation for who you are as a person. A woman full of grace and poise. A woman of incredible strength and tenderness. A woman of such deep faith and wisdom. Thank you for showing me the love, support and dedication of a wife. I'll never know how you made it so many years with a man that can be so exasperating, but God bless you! I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also." 2 Timothy 1:5 Thank you for giving me the opportunity for this to apply to my life. Finally, I look fondly on you in pictures..... such a delicate smile and slight head cock. Grandad, thank you for showing me the life of a true man... an humble, God fearing man. You pray for us continuously knowing our walks with the Lord are personal and cannot be forced. There was never any doubt of the core values I needed in a husband and father of my children through the example you set of cherishing family and loving the Lord. I'm just glad I found one that's also capable of laundry and cooking!
42: "Praise the Lord. Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands. His children will be mighty in the land: the generation of the upright will be blessed." Psalm 112: 1-2 Have peace in knowing when the day comes for the Lord to take you home you will hear from Him, "Well done my good and faithful servant." You have set an incredible example for how we should live our lives as individuals, spouses and parents. Thank you for being faithful followers of Christ and living His word through example. I love you, Kristin
44: Dear Mimi and Grandad, It is an honor to be a member of this family - the family that you built by training, guiding, encouraging and loving each of us. Your influence was directed under the leadership of Christ because you kept our Lord at the center of your life. He has blessed you both and our family out of your obedience to Him.
45: I have learned so many wonderful life-lessons from you - some have been direct from the sharing of your experience and others have been learned simply by observation. Since I was a girl, I've watched you consistently use and monitor the calendar on the desk. When I was young, I loved finding my name on the calendar for our lunch dates and grandkid activities. By observing you with the calendar I learned that many times our activities need to be purposefully remembered or our life and ministry will likely get caught up in the busyness of the day. On the calendar, I could see the importance of setting aside time to volunteer at Church and within the community, ministering to friends by calling and taking meals to them during difficult times, remembering birthdays and anniversaries, dates with friends, and plans to attend special events for every grandchild. You have always had a full schedule because you have been diligent in your ministry to others and to your family. As a young child I loved having the opportunity to play with my cousins every Sunday afternoon and put on our performances for our family to "enjoy." As we grew older, I could hardly wait for VBS week each summer. I loved going out each afternoon - just you and all the cousins. I'm sure you were exhausted after a week of bowling, skating, movies, and the best day.... the sleep-over! It was such a special time. It was so fun to be with only you and the cousins - no parents! I cherish those memories! It was such a special time with you - I don't know anyone else who was able to have that type of experience with their grandparents and cousins. The most important and memorable experiences for me has simply been the times we've talked together in your living room and over lunches. You taught me that a relationship cannot really be built without simply talking to get to know each other. You did this with us even as young children. You asked all about what was happening in our lives; you were truly interested in getting to know who we were. That formed a great bond and safety net in continuing our talks during high school and college - when life becomes a little more challenging. The foundation of hundreds of hours spent talking that developed our relationship provided a safe place to come to as an adult when I needed to talk about
46: difficult choices and the joyful and painful events in life. Each time we talked, you shared a little more about yourselves and your experiences. Your openness brought comfort, direction, wisdom and encouragement. The last few sentences of every conversation are always welcomed with a hint of expectedness and necessity - it always brings encouragement and I always believe you. "We're so proud of you. We're praying for you. We love you." You have both been the greatest grandparents I could dream of. I thank you so much for shaping us to become the beautiful family that we are - a sweet, loving family who loves each other dearly. It's such an incredible blessing. Please allow me to say that we are so proud of you. We pray for you and we love you with all of our hearts. Love, Marie
48: Dear Mimi and Grandad, I want to tell you how much you mean to me and how blessed I was growing up. Some of my fondest memories of my life are times shared with the two of you. I know that most grandkids are not able to spend as much time with their grandparents as we were with you.
49: My first memory of the two of you is spending time with the family in the old house. I remember coming together for Christmases, Easters, and birthday parties. I have great memories of spending the night with the other grandkids and singing on the fireplace. We were lucky as grandkids to spend a great amount of time with the two of you. Of course, we all looked forward to the VBS week where we would spend the night, go to the movies, and eat Mimi's homemade lunches. I have only a few memories of the lake house growing up. I can still remember every room in the house, the back porch, the stairs to the lake, and the horse shoes in the front. My favorite memory of the lake house was spending time on the lake and knocking over Grandad in his canoe. I was fortunate to be able to spend a large amount of time with Grandad while playing golf. I never practiced much or took it hard when I played bad. I was really just there to spend time with you, Grandad, and whoever else was playing with us. We had so much time through the years while playing golf to talk to each other. I don't know if there would have been any other opportunity for me to get to know you the same way as I was able to while playing golf. The time that you set aside to play golf with me also allowed me to fellowship with my dad, Brian and Uncle Tom. Mimi, I have never met anyone with a more genuine "sweet" disposition. You have made your house such a comforting and peaceful place to be. I can only think of a few times when I have ever seen you upset, both times I believe had something to do with Brian scaring you. Your home cooked meals were and are still looked forward to by everyone in the family. I remember watching you over the years working on your Bible study early in the mornings. I grew up with great pride being your grandchild. Our family has a clear foundation and structure. Looking at the family and each generation, it is clear that the two of you spent a great deal of time growing and nurturing us each step of the way. I don't know of any other family that not only loves each other, but also genuinely loves to spend time with each other as we do. You have provided incredible leadership and have seemed to establish an unwritten code of ethics that have been held by each generation. You have set a strong sense of value in our beliefs in Christ and a worth of each other as a family. The two of you have truly displayed to your grandkids what it is to be a Christian. I don't know how the two of you learned how to nurture and grow a family or if you were just blessed, but I hope that I can do the same.
50: Since I was in my early teens I have been looking forward to being a father. I've been blessed with such a great time and fellowship with my own father that I couldn't wait to do the same with my kids. While growing up I felt the same way with being a grandfather. I've wondered if I would have as many grandkids and what they would be like. I wanted to have the same type of quality time and relationships with my grandchildren that the two of you have had with us. I am excited for the great grandkids who are already here and for those to come. I pray that they will have even a fraction of the memories that I have with the two of you. Thank you for everything that you have done for me through the years. You have been such a blessing to the family and me. Love, Daniel
52: Dear Mimi and Grandad, When I think of our family I think of one word: blessed. We are so fortunate that we have such a wonderful, loving family who not only loves one another, but also loves spending time together. It is a rarity now days to find a family like ours. All of your children have wonderful moral values, a strong work ethic, and are amazing parents.
53: The grandkids have been so lucky to have all of these values passed down to us from both our parents and both of you. That in itself is a perfect testament to what fantastic parents and grandparents you are! There are so many memories that I look back on that will stay with me always. Grandad, when my parents divorced, you became more than just a grandfather. You took on a fatherly role also. Coming over to help with yard work, taking care of every car need I ever had from oil changes to inspections, and just coming over to check on us are just a few of the endless things you did. Mimi, one thing that amazes me about you is how sweet your heart is and that you love me so much that every time I cry, you cry with me. When my little pet ferret, Gracie, passed away I received a voice mail from you that I will never forget. You said with a tearful voice how sorry you were and that you loved me and were crying with me. I remember thinking, "I can't believe she loves me so much that she would cry with me over a pet ferret!" You both passed these wonderful qualities to my mother, who took on the role of mom and dad while working two jobs and who stood at the front doorway in tears with her arms stretched out for me when I came home after not making high school cheerleader. Not only have you both been the most amazing, loving grandparents to all of us grandkids, you taught your kids how to be wonderful parents as well. One thing that I love about our family is how much fun we have together! So many of my childhood memories involve sleepovers at Mimi and Grandad's with the cousins, you both taking us to the skating rink after VBS, and riding the golf cart across the street in the Church parking lot. Grandad, remember the time Brittany went over the big hill and launched you out of the golf cart onto the grass? You sure did put up with a lot from us in the name of fun! One thing is for sure, we had just as much fun with both of you as you did with us! Something that I would like to say to both of you is - thank you. Thank you for being model grandparents. Thank you for leading the way for all of us to be Christians. For taking us to Vacation Bible School every year. Thank you for all of the birthday dinners and Saturday Donut Days.
54: Thank you for coming to San Antonio when I thought no one knew where I was. For all of the "walking around money". Thank you for taking us on ski trips to Colorado. For giving me the Buick when I didn't have a car. Thank you for coming to see me every year in college. For all of the newspaper article clippings. For letting me sing very loudly in your car when I was little. Thank you for all the chicken and dumplings and for all the trips to Chuck-E-Cheese. Thank you for being a wonderful Christian example. For all of the weekly phone calls to say hi. Thank you for helping fix my Saturn after a hailstorm in Wichita Falls. For being there for me during the passing of Mamaw and Papaw. For endless encouragement and support. Thank you for making me so proud to be your granddaughter! Love, Jennifer
56: - | Dear Mimi and Grandad, You are the most caring, precious grandparents a girl can have. And nothing I say here can truly express how much you mean to me. You have greatly contributed to the person I have grown up to be. You have instilled in me many valuable qualities and taught me several life-lessons, but I will focus on a few that mean the most to me.
57: Most importantly, you have been a consistent and faithful Christian role model for me. You are a prime example of what it means to live a purpose-driven life. I have always admired your dedication to Christ and your passion for worshiping, serving, and leading others. I understand how fortunate I am to have had your example to look up to from a very young age. Attending VBS and Church camp as a child, and Sunday Church and lunch are among some of my favorite memories. You have laid the foundation for Christianity in our family, and through us and our children, you will greatly impact generations to come. Your relationship with one another is also something unique and special that has impacted me. You love each other unconditionally, you support and respect one another, and you value the life you have built together. You have grown together in the Lord, which has allowed you to withstand trying times and remain unshakable in a fragile world. Mimi, you might have withstood a few more trying times than Grandad.... Thank you for impacting my understanding of love and relationship. Your example has contributed to the loving marriage that I am in today and it will continue to help Quade and I as we navigate through life together. Hearing your life experiences and watching your continued activities and interactions, I have learned the importance of hard work and using what gifts you have to give to others to make the world a better place. You have always encouraged education, career paths and involvement with people and places. I greatly appreciate you teaching me these values through your words and your actions. It has made me a better person and has contributed to the opportunities and success that I've experienced thus far.
58: Favorite Mimi & Grandad Memories That Make Me Smile * Singing Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again" in my best southern accent after a near tip-over while driving Grandad around in the golf cart. * Putting my rear through Mimi's glass door and hearing her scream "Brittany Leigh!" * Sneaking into your bathroom, putting on Mimi's black and white tube of Original Chapstick, combing my hair, and spraying some of her Aqua Net hairspray just so I could look and smell like Mimi... * Saturday morning donuts from Shipley's * Sleepovers with the cousins that consisted of watching "The Land After Time," playing Office Depot, or maybe wrapping a house or two. * My Chuck E. Cheese birthday dinners. All 27 of them (ha ha!) * Playing the piano with Grandad and feeling like Beethoven even though I was playing the only chord of "Heart and Soul" that I knew. Grandad made it sound good! * Coming home from college and staying with you... the horrified looks I got from you over my depleted gas tank... the simple conversations over morning coffee & breakfast.... wrapping up in that old pink blanket and feeling safe, comfortable and happy. * Mimi dancing to Justin Timberlake's "Sexyback!" * Getting a letter from Mimi in the mail explaining the importance of responsibility when she found out that I blew off my stash of parking tickets.
59: * Getting newspaper clippings from Grandad throughout college about "Schnauzers Gone Wild", Deer Park cheerleading and every other situation he could find that ever applied to me. * During college, beating you home on a Friday night. I was reading in Mimi's recliner with a caramel apple sucker in my mouth, when you strolled in the door passed midnight. You have touched my life and the lives of others so profoundly and I am so grateful to have you as grandparents. I cherish every moment spent with you and every conversation that we have had. I love you to pieces! Love, Brittany
60: Thank you for establishing the "Education Fund" which provided financial assistance for your six grandchildren to attend the college of their choice in preparation of their chosen career path. This fund was a tremendous help for the parents. Your yearly college visits were always looked forward to and the "walking around money" was always a treat! Forever grateful, Your children and grandchildren
61: Brian Baylor University | Kristin Baylor University | Marie Howard Payne University | Daniel Alvin Law Enforcement Academy | Jennifer Midwestern University | Brittany Texas Tech University
62: The great grandkids love Mimi and Grandad too! Family traits are passed down from generation to generation. Riley has Mimi's "attention to detail and precision", Mason has Grandad's "quick wit and humor" and Colton has Grandad's "love of laughter."
63: All because two people fell in love!