This post is part of the Five Minute Friday blog link-up! Each week Kate Motaung provides a one-word writing prompt for participants to free write for five minutes flat and share their work with the online community. This week’s prompt is SACRIFICE. You can also find me on the Inspire Me Monday link-up with Anita Ojeda.

Teach a child to choose the right path, and when he is older, he will remain upon it. Proverbs 22:6 (Living Bible)

I learned about sacrifice by looking back at the dedication of my parents. They were devoted to their children, the church, and each other.

My dad worked for the local Catholic diocese for thirty years. Not a high paying job but between overtime, second jobs, and Mom working off tuition by volunteering at our school, they managed to get us through Catholic school, which was expensive even in the ’60s & ’70s. It was important to them.

Then there’s sweet Michelle, my special little sister. Mom always called here exceptional. She has Down Syndrome, they call it Trisomy 21 now. She started school at age three. I saw my mom crying at the kitchen sink some days after putting Michelle on that big yellow bus. Many more times I watched her get on that bus to bring treats to school or, I’m guessing, just to be with Michelle. How frightening it must have been to send that tiny little girl off to school. She graduated at age 26 and continued to live with Mom and Dad, and then just Mom.

For years Mom and Dad ran a food basket ministry, making sure seniors had food for the holidays. They took care of the shopping and delivery in some not so safe surroundings, even while Dad struggled through Cancer and COPD. They knew people were counting on them. Family and friends helped near the end of their ministry and got to see first hand the good they were doing. It was inspiring and just one of their many volunteer activities over the years.

Dad beat Cancer, but COPD proved to be a formidable foe. As his illness progressed, hospital stays became more frequent, but Mom made sure she and Michelle got there almost every day, even though Mom never had a driver’s license. She didn’t want him to be alone.

Finally, for Mom’s sake and with her encouragement, Dad endured until he couldn’t any longer. I’m sure there were times when He would have liked to stay under the covers or felt that he couldn’t go on another day. He would take Mom and Michelle for a drive instead. He used to say, “I could stay home sick or go out, might as well go out.” They loved going to the Flea Markets and found friends along the way.

Mom and Dad celebrated 50 years of marriage in September 2005 and Dad passed away in 2007. Michelle lived at home until Mom was 88. Now Michelle lives with us but Mom, at almost 91, insists on spending weekends her to give me a break.

Sacrifice. Without complaining or boasting my parents quietly sacrificed their time, leisure, money, physical safety, sleep, and a much easier life for the good of others. They just lived life together and, without planning it, provided us with an excellent model to live by.

Thanks, Mom and Dad.