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The right kind of pride


Proverbs 16:18 
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. 

We are so accustomed to being lectured about the perils of pride, that when genuine pride comes along it can be hard to recognize its virtue. Our academic minds resist the thought of pride. We have learned to avoid hubris at almost any cost, being the type of pride that can bring us down. The haughty spirit against which Proverbs and many other wise sayings seek to save. 

Yet there are forms of pride that are worthy of our thoughts and our souls. We should remember that too. 

There is pride in our family. It can be hard work maintaining relationships. Understanding the needs and wants of others, and their goals in life. 

Their is pride in our work; nothing wrong with doing a good job. My father has always told me "Take pride in your craft." That lesson is re-learned ever day, as far as I'm concerned. 

There is pride in tradition. Our families have fun traditions that we have maintained over the years. Sometimes the rituals get a little worn. But then we have our memories as well. "Remember when..." is a powerful source of pride. Nostalgia is a constructive emotion when it binds us strong. 

Caregiving Pride

All those forms of pride come together in time of need, and the work of caring for someone you love dearly. These last couple months of caring for my wife Linda took every ounce of focus and pride at times. You can be proud if you try your best to take care of someone who needs you. There will be failures and shortcomings. Forgotten this and not quite that. But you try, and the rewards when someone you love can relax and take in a moment or share a word of love make it all worth it. 

When it was all finished and my children and I had held the hands of my wife as she passed from this world to the next, the opportunity to sit alone with my wife finally arrived. As I sat there looking at her face, I touched her lips with m y hand and told her I loved her. Then a deep sense of pride in her life came over me. I sat stunned at the realization of how proud I was of this woman. How she'd borne through so many difficult and potentially demeaning circumstances. I've said it many times now; Our blessings were fulfilled in the time we gained. 

Even against the stripped pride and temporal sadness. 

She'd lost her hair multiple times, and lamented the final notion that it wasn't coming back. Yet she donned those hot and uncomfortable wigs and kept going. We sat in front of the computer screen one day and looked at new styles and I pointed to a little looser look and at first she resisted. But it more closely resembled her "real" hair and a day or two later the wig arrived and she did not tell me at first. Then she walked out wearing it and said something on the order of, "Look what I got you!" It was much more like her. 

We joked at times about buying red wigs or other colors. But that was not Linda. Never was. She was a fun and sometimes joyfully frivolous person all of her life, but not one to playfully cast off her image. Her proper pride would not allow it. I loved her for that. 

Pride in character

We all noted that her real character never left her. Not through the deepest difficulties and toward the very end of her life in this world. She kept to her character. Her love of solace. Her pride in her children and her work. Her love for friends who she loathed to burden. Above all, her abiding phrase during all these tough weeks was, "I don't want to be a burden." 

Her caregivers would convulse with sympathy when she said that. Of course she was not a burden. There were days in the last few weeks when her body so filled with fluid that it was difficult to help her move. Yet it was no effort for me to get my arms under her shoulders and use my own legs to give her strength. Once up and moving, she'd keep going. That's how it worked. 

Of course there is also the pride felt in concert with my children, Evan and Emily, who are a reflection of their mother in so many important ways. 

So when it came ti me to see her stillness, a great sense of pride and gratitude washed over me. I am so proud of my wife, who lives on in my heart. Though it pains us to lose her, it gains us to feel this pride and keep going. 

We will share in this life on April 13 when we hold a service at 10 a.m. at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in St. Charles. Linda's own instructions, written 2 years ago with to me, "This can't go on forever, right?" will form the foundation of the service.