Writing a Tribute to Your Parents

Dennis Rainey, in his book The Tribute: Whatever Every Parent Longs to Hear (Thomas Nelson, 1994, 288 pages), advocates every son or daughter writing a tribute of honor to their parents at some point in their life. He also advises presenting that written tribute publicly, usually on some milestone date in their lives.

On July 23 of 2004 my parents marked their 50th wedding anniversary. I struggled with what to give them since they possess so much due to God’s blessing in their lives.

It was then that I read Rainey’s book and found it inspirational, helpful, and practical. He talks about the biblical importance of honor and goes into quite some detail how to write a tribute. He wrestles with tough subjects like how to honor parents who have been abusive and less than honorable in their parenting. He also provides numerous examples of tributes people have sent in over the years. It’s worth the read.

It may be a bit late to write something like this for your Mom with less than twenty-four hours left before Mother’s Day, but I would commend the idea to your thinking for Father’s Day in June or some other event in the future.

I finish this little exhortation with a copy of my version to my folks. They matted and framed a copy and placed it on the family picture wall of their home in Viera. God worked wonderfully that night of their anniversary. My hope is that this might serve to prompt you to do something similar on the right occasion as God leads.

The Best Gift I Can Give
A Tribute to My Parents on their 50th Wedding Anniversary

Dear Dad & Mom,

I wondered long and hard, even prayed, about what present to get you for this momentous occasion. God’s voice was clear. Give them honor. Write a tribute.

Memories from these years as your son came back like a flood. I thank you for them all. I honor you for the earliest memory – joining me on the floor to play with my cowboys and Indians fort. I honor you for the latest memory – turning your 50th into an occasion to gift your children with stunning generosity.

I honor you for all the memories in between – not just for the memories, but for what they represent – love, family, care, commitment. Some of those memories seem more insignificant than others. Certain ones belong to you, Mom. Whipping up the world’s greatest chicken pot pie. Decorating a perfect tree every Christmas Eve. Teaching me how to cook, wash, and even iron for college. Instilling in me the importance of writing thank you notes.

Others come from you, Dad. Tutoring me through Mr. Donnely’s tortuous 7th grade math class. Taking me to see the Phillies play at Connie Mack stadium. Letting me drive the corvette to the prom even though it cost you a night’s sleep. Being able to fix absolutely anything. Making me help build that endless stone wall in Berwyn.

Still more have to do with you both, and the family. Singing “I wish I was a Colorado Marmot” under the Rocky Mountain summer night sky. Tolerating my rock band blasting sixties songs in the garage. Attending all my plays and graduations. Letting me get a hamster. Buying me a 12-string guitar.

I honor you for those lesser memories and these weightier ones. Mom – breaking the generational chain of addiction by trusting Christ as your Savior and relentlessly facing Goliath-like issues with God’s help.

Dad – not just marrying Mom though I came with the package, but even adopting me as your very own son. I gladly bear the family name, Heffelfinger.

Both of you – raising me in the church where I received my call to the ministry. Nurturing my love for music, theater, and speech – recognizing my unique bent and never trying to make me into someone I wasn’t. Refusing to allow my foolish dishonor in leaving college against your wishes to drive an ultimate, endless wedge into our relationship. Standing with me and Nancy in the hardest choices of our lives – leaving CCVF in ’79 and heading for Idaho in ’98.

And certainly on this day, July 23, 2004, I honor you for the testimony of covenant- keeping marriage – for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, until death do you part. In all of this you haven’t been perfect, any more than I or any of us have been perfect. But you have been real, faithful, loving, devoted, and enduring. For these things and so much more, I honor you. I give you tribute. You are exactly what God wanted me to have. Praise be to His name!

Your loving and forever grateful son,


Leviticus 19:32

5 responses

  1. Thank you for sharing this deeply personal, moving tribute and encouraging us to consider doing the same – at the right time during the right occasion.

  2. Thank you for that personal and beautiful testimony. In an age of complainers and constant negativity, what a breath of fresh air it is to focus on the blessings of family and parents–flaws notwithstanding. This sort of thing is all too rare. Thanks for the encouragment, pastor!

  3. Thank you so much for this! My fiance, Allison, and I are writing a tribute now. We will be married on July 9th, 2011. This is VERY helpful! Please pray for us!

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