The Balboa Blunder

Isn't it remarkable how reticent we all are to honor people until after they're gone? I think of President Reagan who went through two whole terms of political rancor and wrangling and bitter opposition, only to be greatly remembered and revered after he passed away.  

What is it about dying that finally inspires people's esteem? And is it not sad and well...frankly...perverse that we do it that way? I certainly think so. Why not show honor and respect while people live?

W.H. Auden once weighed in on this topic, by the way:

"Let us honor, if we can, 

the vertical man, 

though we truly value none

but the horizontal one." 

Don't you love it? In addition to my Scriptures, I try to read at least one Auden poem a day; just to keep the gloom away.

The truth of it is, we honor people too late!  And that is especially true when it comes to our parents. We wait so long; we think so highly of them only after they're gone! 

The Schorr family could have been fabulously wealthy if my mom and dad hadn't made one wrong choice, many years ago. The issue was a piece of property, which they could have purchased, that would have made us rich...

...which they didn't...

...and so we aren't...

...and so we siblings never let my parents live it down!

My dad was working for the Title Insurance and Trust Company in downtown Santa Ana back when I was just a little boy, and one day he came home from the office and announced that up on the bulletin board at work, there were 1/4-acre lots for sale as investments on a little spit of sand near the water in Costa Mesa. 

"I think it's called...'Balboa'," said Dad, "something like that." 

I was too young to understand it back then, but my older siblings tell me that Mom and Dad discussed it at the dinner table one night.

"Well...how much do they cost?" My mom asked, already a little leery.

"$2,500." 

"Goodness, Jack! That's not an investment! That's just money down the drain! $2500 for just a strip of sand? Why, you can't even plant a lawn or a garden on it." 

"Yeah...I guess you're right."

Incredible! 

All through our childhood, The Balboa Blunder was the standard joke around our house. Whenever Mom and Dad would tell us that we couldn't afford this, or we couldn't afford that, which was just about always, as I recall, we kids would come back with: "Well...we could have afforded it if we had stepped up to the plate on that Balboa property." 

Well into our adult years, we never let them live that down. 

But—you know?—every time we made that remark, my mom and dad would just smile and nod—they knew that was comin'.  We only got to tease them because they'd already teased themselves about it. It was funny to them too. 

Looking back now, I realize that there was more to it than that. Their response was also one of complete assurance. The Balboa Blunder never really upset them, and we kids could easily see that. They weren't about to have a big guilt-trip over it; because they knew that they were giving us something much better and much more valuable than any stupid piece of land!

We all grew up to see that too. Over the years, as I got involved with pastoring and the counseling of people who didn't have the family life or the kind of parents we had, I've come to realize just how "rich" my parents really made me! I couldn't ask for more. 

So many times I've wanted to go back and say to my mom or my dad: "You do know—don't you?—that we were just kidding about the Balboa thing? Because you couldn't possibly have given us a better inheritance!" 

I never got to say that. And—man!—do I regret it! 

Listen dear family: while you still can—before it's too late!—do what the Word of God tells you to do! 

"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you." 

Ex 20: 12

And while you're at it; how about showing honor and esteem for everyone you meet; everyone you fellowship with; everyone you possibly can...before this fragile "grass" withers in the wind. 

See you Sunday!                     RAS

The God Who Waits
The Miserrimus Headstone