Forty years ago, I was preparing to leave for a weekend motivational seminar. We were standing by the front door of the car and an unusual feeling froze my hand on the handle. Ann is so incisive and seems, at times to see the past, present and future of our lives. I needed to leave but I had a distinct feeling, “no, not yet.”
An unusual tear appeared and as it cleared her vision she said, “I don’t feel as close to you, Jack, as I once did”. I had to admit that I had the same feeling, but like most men just didn’t find the words to say it. We agreed to pray about it and think on it during the weekend, feeling secure in the fact that God would somehow reveal the answer.
We had a good seminar that weekend, but most of my time was seeking an answer to the matter of our drifting away from each other. On the way home the following Monday I stopped at a hardware store and for $2.54, bought the solution. I had thought about it all weekend and the simple remedy was obvious.
Ann met me at the door on my return and I boldly announced that “I found the answer”. I held it in my hand behind my back and like a modern magician, I displayed it with the words, “It’s the pie pan”.
She looked at me with those big beautiful eyes, and I continued. “This pie pan represents our life and there is just so much of it!” My wife looked at me with a questioning eye. We moved to comfortable chairs around the dinner table and I put the pan on display between us. I began by cutting the empty pie pan apart with my finger. “We gave a large piece to Ed and Linda”. That’s our youngest son and his wife and family. They had recently moved to town from another city and had purchased one of our former rent houses. There was the necessary legal work, the opening of bank accounts, the repair and refurbishing of the house took time and the move and resettling took more of the pie. Included in the move was the invasion of our two grandchildren and a dog.
Then we gave another huge slice of piece to our daughter Tammy and her husband Mike. They too had moved to town and into their first house on Cobb Street. They had waited for two full months for the house to be vacated and the move from country to city life had taken a toll from all of us. Another grand child was added to the growing list.
With an imaginary knife, I cut another large slice of the pie. This piece was for Bob, our middle son who nearly died of congestive heart failure. The effect of polio left him with only one active lung and that one was but 40 per cent of capacity. He spent a number of days in I.C.U. and nearly two weeks in the Cobb County Hospital. We were deeply concerned and prayed fervently that God would spare his life. He did and we rejoiced and two more pieces of pie were given. My work as motivational speaker at weekend seminars took its share of the pie and with a half slice going to Ming Toy Hapi Chin (a dog of doubtful Chinese extraction) plus the normal efforts of housekeeping, yard mowing, grocery shopping, we looked at the empty pie pan — THERE WAS NO PIE LEFT The conclusion was simple. In the last six months, we had three sons, their wives, three children, one dog and all their belongings move back to town. My work was especially heavy, Ann had returned to school full-time, and the dog had to be walked every few hours.
We had given ALL OF OUR PIE AWAY. There was no pie left for us. “Hey”, I demanded, “Where is our piece of the pie?” A serious question and a simple illustration gave the answer to a most complex problem. Our relationship was the most important of all. If mom and dad go down the tube the whole family structure is in serious trouble. We still loved each other deeply, but we were neglecting this primary love. It’s nice to be generous but if we give all our pie away, and in the process grow apart, what’s the good of any of it?
We agreed on the solution. WE WILL DEMAND AND RECEIVE OUR GENEROUS PIECE OF THE PIE FIRST. Then whatever time, energy, love we have left we will gladly give it away. Jesus said, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and they twain shall be one flesh” (Matthew 19:5). Friends are important but the husband/wife relationship is more important. Business is essential but having your piece of pie first is more essential. “Children are a heritage from the Lord,” and that being true, it means the husband/wife togetherness is all the more sacred.
The next time that amen is said at the dinning room table, please pass the food to mother and dad FIRST especially if it’s pie.