A love so intense that there should never be a question toward its place in one’s respect to those closest to them. We see that there is a diverse connection between parents and their offspring pertaining to respect beyond normal expectations. There lies within the deeper bond of flesh and blood between generations in families that must feel needed and know that desire exists for each of the parties.
All parents watch as their children grow into adolescents then mature and take on the responsibility of young adults. All the while mom and dad are there to catch a falling child and provide a way out of painful experiences guiding each of them into parenthood as well. What concerns parents is when the child they pampered and wiped bloody noses forget those compassionate gestures and at times are forgotten as they reach the golden years.
On the sidelines of life when age catches up with mom and dad and many end up in nursing or assisted living facilities, there is a feeling of loss as the once child who is aging as well forgets the days when they were cared for, and tears of pain pour out because they are forgotten.
When my mother-in-law was in a nursing home, a bed partner was in her 90’s and waited daily for a promise of being picked up for an outing. Most times no one showed up. She had been placed here by children who didn’t think she would outlive her tenure. She had been there for over 25 years, still waiting. By the way, we always made sure to visit mom.
If a child or sibling is affected by a serious illness or terminal disease we are required by moral law to attend to their suffering and loneliness. I remember visiting patients at Mercy Hospital as a ministry and spoke with a young man who was afflicted with multiple cirrhosis. He appeared ok until he told me his wife divorced him because of his affliction. Filial love is not excluded for older parents. Lest we forget, all of us are children of God.
This brings us to the most essential definition of filial love. We have a Father who is also waiting for his children to stop and visit, yet most of us are so busy like; “A man gave a great dinner to which he invited many. One by one they excused themselves. The first said to him I have purchased a field and must go to examine it. Another said I have just purchased five yoke of oxen and am on my way to evaluate them. A third man said he had just got married and therefore cannot come. Each in his own way excused himself.” (Lk. 14: 17 - 20).
Is this the manner of excuses too many people adhere to when God who placed the idea of filial love in our hearts is receiving one excuse after another to accept his love. When we visit the sick, especially the terminally ill, or forget our parents, the filial love can be found in Matthew: “He will separate the nations as a shepherd separates sheep from goats; to those on his right he will say Come, you who are blessed, because I was hungry, naked, in jail or sick and you attended to me.” (Mt. 25: 31 ff).
These are the elderly, the lonely, the forgotten who cry waiting 25 years and nobody comes. I cry when I see even more than I listed. It should bring sadness to anyone who sees these events of pain to the unforgotten. This is Filial Love.
Ralph B. Hathaway