In his book, The Forgotten Commandment, Dennis Rainey encourages readers to write a formal tribute to their parents and present it to them during a special occasion (birthday, anniversary, holiday, etc.).  Following is an example of a tribute.  Click here for more information on honoring your parents and for more tribute examples.

Tribute to Eileen Lepine from her son, Bob:

I was rummaging through the attic the other day when I stumbled across the treasure chest full of wonderful, funny, warm, and happy memories that have (for better or worse) shaped my life and made me the man I am today. On the front of the chest was an inscription, noting the source of all these treasured memories. The inscription read “Courtesy of Mom.”

The chest was stuffed with great memories. I found a flag you had sewn for me in fourth grade and the Doublemint gum costume I wore one Halloween (next to the Stan Musial baseball suit I wore the year before). There were Cub Scout and Boy Scout uniforms, with the awards and merit badges expertly sewn in just the right place, and done before the next scout meeting. There was the green wool shirt, top stiched by hand (without the necessary Pendleton label).

I found the bicycle you brought back from Germany that had to be painted blue by the time it was my turn to ride it. It sat next to the two speed Schwinn I rode from the time I was 12 until it fell apart in college. There was the Methodist hymnal I earned for memorizing 35 hymns before Easter one year. I thought about the trip home from spring break in Panama City, where you and Dad and I finished memorizing the last ten or fifteen of those hymns so I could win the hymnal. Even today, as I sing some of those great old hymns, I can remember learning them with you as I leaned over from the back seat in a dark car on I-55 somewhere south of St. Louis.

I thought again about all the vacations. The regular trips to Florida at spring break, the trip with the whole family to Washington DC when I was only five or six, the cottage on Lake Michigan, and the now famous vacation to Yellowstone (“Look at all the trees. I wonder if anyone has ever counted them all.”). With kids of my own I now understand why, after almost two weeks on the road, you sent me outside the restaurant until the food arrived.

I came across memories of trips to Steak and Shake, and going with you to Shakey’s Pizza on nights when Dad was out of town. I laughed again at that time when you came to pick me up from summer school, and we stopped at Sandy’s Hamburgers to get something for Mr. Pincus, the painter. He had given you a dollar to buy his lunch, and had said “Get something for yourself and your boy, too.” We laughed so hard, we cried.

I thought about the hours you spent driving me back and forth to Country Day school where you hoped a summer school class might teach me to spell (since Mrs. Theising had neglected the task in fourth grade). Or the hours you spent driving by my newspaper stand without me knowing it on Saturday nights when I worked until way after dark selling the Post Dispatch.

I remembered how you always had breakfast ready to go when I arrived downstairs with five minutes to go before the carpool arrived. I thought about all my favorite dinners — your spaghetti, the pork chow mien, the shrimp and rice casserole. I even remembered the beet greens and turnip greens you cooked and made me try. And I thought about how my own children love it, just the same way I always did, when you make the hamburger and green been casserole with the mashed potatoes on top, or the Turkey noodle soup from the left-over turkey at Thanksgiving.

I thought a lot about music, and how my tone deaf mother encouraged my love for singing. I found the ukulele you bought me when I really wanted a guitar (even though my hands were still way too little). I was probably the only child in Kirkwood who ever took ukulele lessons at Mel Bay. I remembered my six months of piano lessons. My first guitar in sixth grade. The PA system you bought for $200 when I joined a band in Jr. High. All the hours carting those speakers from house to house for band practice, or from place to place when the band finally started getting jobs.

I remembered the Christmas caroling party in the ninth grade, where my friends and I went up and down Parkland singing for our neighbors. Everyone ended up back at our house for hot chocolate (you know that Amy has carried the Christmas caroling tradition down to the next generation. Now Mary Ann and I host the parties). Ninth grade was the year Cookie Thornton and Steve ??? came to the party. From that night on, you and Cookie had a friendship that lasted throughout high school.

Ah yes, High School. While I stayed busy and said yes to too many things, you backed me up and made it all possible. Track meets. Choir. Student Council. Basketball games. Talent Shows. Dates. Homework. “You’re over-committed!” you told me. “I can handle it,” I said back. And I did handle it. But only because you pitched in and helped.

Even the memories of hard times have helped make me the man I am today. Little things, like my childhood earaches. Or big things, like the day I came home from school and you told me “Your sister got married today” — I had no idea how much that must have hurt you. The day the officer came to school with the news of Kathy’s accident. The funeral in West Chicago. Dad’s drinking. His manic depression. Moving your mom and dad to Kansas City, and caring for them in their last years. Then the news of Dad’s melanoma. His passing in 1988.

I could have spent hours that day, pouring through all the memories in the treasure chest. But I stopped when I came across a smaller wooden box inside the chest. On the outside, engraved in gold, were the words “Lessons Learned – The Measure of a Life.” Inside was a collection of precious stones and gems. Although I had been through this box many times, I had never taken the time to consider all that it contained. On this particular day, I stopped to really examine three of the jewels it contained.

In the box, I found the pearl of honesty. I remembered all the times you had told me with a stern look on your face and a touch of anger in your voice that you have no tolerance for anything less than the truth. I would always get in less trouble, you told me, if I told the truth about something that I would if I lied. You didn’t just preach it. You lived it. You told the truth.

I have learned to be honest with others by your example. It is one way I have been marked as your son.

I found in the box the emerald of perseverance. Whether it was a sewing project or challenges in marriage, you never gave up. Your limits were tested over and over again, and I think you surprised yourself sometimes when you found strength that you didn’t know you had.

I have learned to stick with it from watching your example. It is another way I have been marked as your son.

I also found the ruby of selflessness. More than anyone I know, you have poured out your life in service for others. For Kathy and Julie and me. For Grandma and Grandpa in their 90’s. For Dad as he battled cancer.

Even today, you continue to serve me and my family. You show your love through sacrifice, by baby sitting, fixing meals or special desserts, helping to provide money for school for your grandchildren, and taking Amy for the chance of a lifetime trip to Scotland.

I have learned to serve others from watching you serve. It, too, has marked me as your son.

I visit the memory box often, especially now as I watch my own children do and say things that remind me of me when I was growing up. Or when I see myself doing something as a parent that reminds me of you and how you cared for your family.

And although the jewel box is still tucked safely away in with all the memories, I carry many of the precious stones with me every day. They are the legacy you have passed from one generation to the next, and are a legacy I hope I can continue to hand down through time.

I love you Mom.

Copyright © 2004 by Bob Lepine. All rights reserved. Used with permission.