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May 13, 2012 / Dale Melchin

Mother’s Day

I normally don’t write about personal stuff on here, however, I’m going to make an exception on this special day.  It has been so long.  On may 25th 2003 Shannon Thuren Melchin, my mother, died of pneumonia as a consequence of lung cancer.  On that day, part of me died with her.

Now, understand that while my home life wasn’t the absolute worst, it was far less than ideal.  My parents fought much of the time, and of course they didn’t have a clue how to control their emotions or raise children.  While I’m not going to go bashing someone who has passed, I intend to be as truthful as necessary.  Dad was the “meaner” of the two parents, so naturally, I was a bit of a mama’s boy.  Until I grew up a bit and didn’t need to be protected as much, then it became nagging, but we still got along.  I did not understand how much I needed her until I lost her.  Since then, I have tried to heal and move on.  I guess 9 years isn’t enough.  The relationship we have with our families is profound and it still effects us even if we don’t want it do so.  Shannon Melchin, while she may not have lived the best, did the best with what she had, she died a repentant Christian, and I am confident that she is in heaven, not because of what she has done, but because of God’s infinite mercy.

Now, I do need to put this into context. I have a second set of parents in my life, Barb and Ray Stanford.  They provided the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual fuel I needed to get through my early years and are still a source of strength in my life.  They have been there for me as a second set of parents.  I address them as mom and dad, and treat the rest of their extended family, well, like family.  Which is good, because it has been difficult trying to connect with the remainder of my blood relatives with the exception of my Aunt Sharman, my sister Shawna, and my cousin, Cindy.

I have often struggled with this because I want to honor my parents and cast them in a good light whenever I talk about them, and here is why.

I idealize Ray and Barb and the rest of the Stanford, Jewell, and Hartung Bunch because well, in comparison to what I had to deal with, they are pretty damn perfect.  They are all people of faith, character, resolve and in my mind they are all highly successful individuals, who live principled lives, and who are everything that I aspire to be.  I realize they are not perfect, but all of their virtues outshine their imperfections.   And in the case of Barb, whom I do claim as a mother, her virtues far outshine her imperfections.  In fact, let me tell you a story.

We were going swimming one hot July afternoon. I was with Barb, Stephanie, (now Jewell) and John (claim them both as brother and sister).  For some reason, I was feeling particularly obnoxious, so I acted that way.  After an hour’s worth of my bad behavior, I pushed Barb (Mom) over the top and she turned around and slapped me in the face.  It shocked me, and I knew I deserved it.  So I apologized, and she forgave me, we hugged and then we went back to swimming.

Contrast that with what I dealt with living with my bio parents.  There was a lot of chaos and instability, and yelling.  I eventually became deaf to them because it was old.  Discipline meant nothing because they were never consistent, and I could always wheel and deal my way out of punishments, especially because they both knew that despite their ineptitude at parenting, I was a good kid and wouldn’t get into that much trouble.

Barb’s discipline toward me meant something.  I wasn’t just an inconvenience.  I had genuinely offended her, my siblings, and I had probably offended God in the process of things. She was also concerned about how my current bad behavior may form into bad habits.  So it actually meant something.  This was a thread that ran throughout my teenage years.

Barb’s house was kind, full of love, discipline, stability, caring and family feelings.

Shannon’s house, while she did the best she could, was full of chaos, inconsistency.  I had to make my room into a fortress of order while I was at home, because, legally, they were still my parents.  In fact there was a little bit of jealousy between the mom’s, but it was directed at me because I was making it a point not to live with them but rather with the Stanford’s when I moved back from Virginia.

I guess the best analogy that I could use to describe House Stanford and House Melchin is that of assets.  House Stanford from an overall standpoint had more positive value than negative value.  House Melchin on the other hand had more negative value than positive value.  In other words, vice out shined virtue.

In all honesty, if I could do it over again, I would’ve finished my remaining years as a teen living with the Stanford’s.  I probably would’ve had more time to heal and more time to deal with the conditioning and habits that I picked up from my parents unconsciously and I could’ve then prepared myself for life more adequately.

In living with the Stanford’s there are other stories I would tell.  Ray and Barb were there for me when my mom died.  There are numerous times when Barb especially helped me with learning about how to live life.  Learning how to treat women that aren’t always impressed by physical feats of strength, but they care more about how you put them first.

I think this more than explains though why I have what’s called “coding conflict” in my life.  I have both kinds of conditioning living inside of me.  The inclination to do good, and the inclination to be undisciplined and selfish.

There is an ancient Native American story about a young boy who went to an elder who said, “I feel like there are two wolves fighting inside of me, a good one and a bad one, which one will win?”  The elder replied, “The one that you feed the most.”  So, even though it is late in the game, I need to decide which dog I am going to feed.  Am I going to feed the dog of virtue that the Stanford’s have helped raise up inside of me?  Or am I going to let the dog that house Melchin built into me win?

I want to feed the dog of virtue, so that way it can kill the wolf of vice.  Now that my bio parents are gone, it is truly my choice.  I need to see the good in them and use it, and learn from the negatives that I have had to observe in my life.  So in closing, I will say this.

Shannon, I still love you, despite your faults.  I know that you are safe in the arms of Christ because of the mercy He has for you.  Thank you for giving me biological life and doing the best you could.

Barb, I will always love you, because you taught me many of the things I needed in life and (because you have no faults).  God put you in my path as a means to provision me for the journey through life, Shannon provided me with biological life, but you have shown me the path to cultivate spiritual, intellectual, and emotional life.  Thank you, I love you.

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