In his book, The Forgotten Commandment, Dennis Rainey encourages readers to write a formal tribute to their parents and present it to them during a special occasion (birthday, anniversary, holiday, etc.). If you want some guidance to do one yourself, check out “The Best Gift You Can Give Your Parents,” or the link above to purchase the book. In the meantime, here’s the tribute one man wrote for his mom.
Tribute to Eileen Butler from her son, Dempsey:
In 1955 providence was giving you an unexpected addition to your ideal sized family of four. You left Florida for your hometown of Boston, so at least one of your kids could be a damn Yankee like you. After nine long months I was born, in the sweltering July heat. You did all that with Dad on deployment. Thanks for commitment and love.
For me, our kitchen was the most secure place in our house … the busiest place in the house, and always the neatest. I remember coming downstairs on Taylor Avenue to the smell of “beggs and acon” in the frying pan. You always tried to send Trudy, Gayle, and me on our way with a hot breakfast and a brown bag lunch (I always hoped for Fritos). It’s the place where you and I frequently reviewed the days events with Chips Ahoy and milk. When you worked the 3-11 shift at Circle Terrace, you made sure I still had snacks! In the summertime there was always a pitcher of presweetened and lemoned iced tea in the fridge … a welcome sight when I’d come home on a hot August day in Alexandria.
You were so generous with your hospitality and love … always having a spare bed and enough food for the lost Midshipman or Naval Aviator who showed up, even at dinnertime. You’d smile and serve them, but we knew the lesson … if we ever showed up at someone else’s home at meal time you’d give us what for.
Between graduate school and the Vietnam War, Dad was gone a lot, from the mid-60s until we moved to Annapolis in 1972. I didn’t know the difficulties you faced raising us while Dad was deployed. Nor did I imagine the stress you were under with all that responsibility and having to deal with the possibility that Dad might not come home. But I was never worried that you didn’t love us or that you wouldn’t be able to find a way to take care of us.
You loved us too much to use Dad’s absence as an excuse for us not being good kids and growing up to be responsible adults. While I really missed Dad too, I also liked being your snuggle buddy under the electric blanket on those quiet nights on Kobe Drive. Remember when all of us would sit down to listen to the 2-inch reel to reel tapes Dad sent us from WESTPAC? I recall the emotion in your voice when you told us how, while on a stopover on your way to Hong Kong to see Dad during a break from Yankee Station, you heard that a D. Butler had been shot down over North Vietnam. It was some time before you knew it wasn’t Dad. It was your faith and trust in God that got you through that time.
I never doubted your strong faith in God. Without it, I don’t know how my life would have turned out. You made sure I attended all those catechism classes and became an altar boy with Father O’Connor when the mass was still said in Latin. (Thanks!) God works in strange ways though. My faith today is much stronger because of what I begrudgingly learned about the basics of a Christian’s faith in classes at St. Edward’s and St. Rita’s.
I always knew you were proud of me, sometimes to the point of embarrassment. That pride you exuded and the love that you showed to me then, has given me the confidence and encouragement to strive for success. I remember visiting you once in Carmel when you took me to lunch at the Beach and Tennis Club. You must have known everyone in the place … and you made sure you introduced your son, the Navy Lieutenant, to each of them … including the busboy. I’m not sure we got around to eating that day.
You taught me responsibility, the value of hard work, compassion, loyalty to friends and family, and the value of saving for the future. I’ve also learned what a great MOM you were. The advice, books, seminars, and tapes on parenting we have today weren’t around in the 1950s. You did what your folks did, the best you could. Dads worked, moms stayed home to raise and train the kids. Now there’s some eternal wisdom. Thanks for placing your nursing career on the back burner when we were young. You knew your skills would slip, but you made it clear your priority was at home with us.
Being a parent for the last seven years has given me a keen appreciation for the task you faced with Dad gone so much, meeting his responsibilities. You did a great job. I’m proud to be Eileen Butler’s son.
Thanks, Mom. I LOVE YOU.