I love getting attacked by seagulls when I run around the grass track next to the school. Not because I’m a masochist—but because the attack seagulls are good parents.
The gulls take their babies out into the field for flight lessons. When I run around the periphery of the field, one parent herds the babies into the middle of the field while the other parent tries to frighten me away. They love their offspring and are courageous when it comes to protecting them.
Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if all parents loved and protected their children as fiercely as seagulls do? There was a great example of parents who do recently in Idaho when a cougar grabbed a four-year-old girl and her parents stormed the mountain lion and made if drop the child and flee.
Since my son’s birthday is August 19, this blog is in memory of him. There are some doctors who probably would have advised me to abort Luke: I was a single mom working two and three jobs to support him for most of his childhood; he was hyperactive, had learning disabilities, a speech impediment, and serious medical problems. From childhood, Luke had unshakable faith in Jesus and in prayer. He lived a victorious life, graduating in the top five percent of seniors in the State of Texas and delivering a speech at graduation. He learned to play the trumpet and piano, sky dive, scuba dive, rock climb, train horses, and fly an airplane. Luke was also kind and loved rescuing animals.
When he was four years old, I had no job, no place to stay, no money, and no vehicle. I was a new Christian. Luke and I had just started attending church. Luke was hearing Bible stories for the first time. He said, “Mom, pray for a truck. The Bible says that Jesus can do anything. Ask Jesus for a truck.” I was afraid to pray. I was afraid that if I prayed, Jesus wouldn’t answer, and that if Jesus didn’t answer, Luke might lose his faith—and that I might lose mine. Luke had no such qualms. He knelt beside the bed and asked Jesus for a truck. The next day…we had a truck!
Luke invented “wind surfing.” He tied ropes to a black plastic tarp and let the wind skate him along the ground. We had an alcoholic living in the trailer next to us. We had invited Wallace to church and told him that Jesus could help him quit drinking, but Wallace never came—and he kept drinking. One day Luke was wind surfing in front of our house when a strong gust of wind picked him up and flew him through the air. He smacked into Wallace’s kitchen window. Wallace was sitting at the table drinking and looked up to see an airborne kid crash against his mobile home. A few days later, we met Wallace at the store. “I’ve quit drinking,” he said. “I figured it was time. The other day…I was sitting at my kitchen table drinking and I saw a kid fly past the window.”
Most people think it’s impossible to see the wind. I used to tell Luke that he couldn’t really see the wind—only what the wind was blowing. Then he took me up on a hill and made me look out across forty miles of desert. He described the wind—the patterns it made across the sagebrush…and I saw it. Luke was right. He could see the wind. He taught me to see the wind. It is one of the many priceless gifts in life that he gave me.
Just as the seagull parents had to teach their babies to fly and let them go, I had to let Luke go so he could fly—literally in his case. I was blessed to call Luke “Son.” Others knew him as USMC Major Luke Parker. He enlisted in the Marine Corps and worked his way up to Major. On November 17, 2013, age 37, Luke took his last flight straight into the arms of Jesus.
Bridge Beyond Betrayal is dedicated to Luke and contains the prophetic poem he wrote one year before he and his Focke Wulf crashed in North Carolina.
Happy Birthday, Luke! Fly high. I’ll join you soon.