I was slow to marry. From an early age, my parents had told me to choose the person I would marry carefully. They said it was likely to be the most important decision I ever made and I took their advice to heart.
I was well into my forties before I found the girl who was to become my wife but she was definitely worth waiting for. The only downside was that by the time I found her both my parents had passed away. I often wish they had a chance to meet her and welcome her into our family.
Two years into our marriage, my wife surprised me with a portrait of my parents by the noted artist Simi Knox. Working from photographs my wife provided, Mr. Knox managed to capture their likeness as vividly as if they had been there to sit for the portrait. It was one of the best Christmas presents I have ever received.
This portrait has had a place of honor and prominence in every home we have owned. Our son, Will, born four years later, has grown up with it. It was always somewhere he could see it, making it easy for me to talk about them and try to describe who they were.
One morning when he was about four or five, Will surprised me by turning away from the television and looking hard at the portrait above the sofa where we were sitting.
He said, “You know, I knew your mother before I knew you.”
His comment seemed to come out of nowhere. It caught me by surprise.
“What do you mean”? I asked.
“We used to play together in heaven,” Will said, “before she picked me out for you.”
Tears flowed. Tears flow even now as I remember what he said and think of the implications.