In honour of my father, Neale E. Strom, 1927-2010. (Originally posted May 2016)
Eight years ago last month I picked up the phone. It was my brother.
“If you want to see dad before he passes, you better come now; he’s losing ground fast.”
It wasn’t unexpected news but the kind that makes you drop everything. My wife offered to book my flight and the next morning I found myself on the shuttle to Sea-Tac Airport to catch a plane to Minneapolis. I rented a car for the three-hour drive to the southwestern corner of the state.
Neale E. Strom was accustomed to running the family business, teaching at church, serving on boards, cheering on high school athletes, and doting on us kids and our children. However in the previous year congestive heart failure and Parkinson’s gradually limited his strength and mobility. After taking a few falls he begrudgingly took to a wheel chair and eventually remained mostly at home in a hospital bed brought in to a main-floor bedroom.
My mom, Jean, remained at his side as his primary caregiver sorting medications, helping him dress, and getting him to and from the washroom.
My sister from Colorado arrived three days before me to support mom and help with dad. Dad had become incoherent and often awake at night, requiring around-the-clock care. Just that week they finally got a live-in nurse.
I arrived at 6:30 p.m. to a house full of people. They cleared the way for me to spend time at dad’s bedside. I was thankful that he rallied to welcome me warmly with clarity of mind.
“Are Shelaine and the boys here too?” he asked.
“No dad, just me.”
His eye-sight had become particularly poor the last few months so I moved in close and put his hand to my face. We talked a bit about my school-end push with marking exams and submitting grades, of our sons and their summer plans, of his tough go the last while and how he was feeling just now.
“Not too good,” he said. “I’m very tired.”
Around the corner mom and Jane prepared a meal for the gathering crowd, and at 7:15 we gathered in the eating area leaving dad to rest a while. We were not gone long when we heard him cry out, “Jeanie, Jeanie.” Mom rushed to his side and in a few minutes he was gone, his eyes closed and body relaxed. The clock read 7:30.
We gathered around his bed and mom wept out a prayer of thanks for Neale as husband, dad, grandfather, and follower of Jesus.
* * * *
The day before dad died he had one of his rougher days drifting in and out of sleep and mumbling. Jane was sitting by his side giving mom a break when dad suddenly sat up in bed, lifted his arms upward, and looked expectantly at the ceiling. He remained there a second, then turned his wrist downward, looked at his watch, and said to someone, “Not today? Okay, tomorrow. 7:30.”
My faith journey is a relatively rational one as I prefer logical arguments for God’s existence, wrestle with theological issues, and prefer the life of the mind over experience to figure out how God moves among us. But when I heard my dad’s story the veil between earth and heaven thinned to a vapor.
Thank you, Dad. I still miss you.
And thank you God.
(This blog is an excerpt from More Than Talk 5th Ed., by Bill Strom & Divine Agodzo)
Unlike previous generations, today’s couples and families must navigate the “3A” facts of internet pornography: it's accessible, affordable, and anonymous. Some users consider the habit a right, or a release, or justified in a poor marriage. On average, women in North America access porn about 30 minutes per week, men for 3 hours. (1)
So is porn really a big deal? The short answer is yes.
The longer answer requires us to consider what you want in family life, and how pornography robs its possibility. Most of us seek trusting, open, affectionate, and responsible relationships with parents and siblings. We hope for sexual fidelity between parents and the timely sexual maturation of brothers and sisters. Our lives become enormously complex when a family member becomes addicted to cyber-porn or when relatives lure nephews or nieces into sexual play. Just how ugly can life get?
Porn can ruin your sex life. While it is true that a poor sex life may draw one to seek online stimulation, it is equally possible that good sex declines after one begins accessing erotica. In experimental studies, men and women exposed to a steady diet of filmed porn (when compared to those who watched non-porn films) tended to:
Porn makes your partner feel like crap. While most women wish for fidelity, intimacy, and trust, those who discover that their husband views porn regularly experience the opposite. These women:
As one woman wrote, “I am no longer a sexual person or partner to him, but a sexual object. He is not really with me, not really making love to me . . . . He seems to be thinking about something or someone else—likely those porn women. . . . He is just using me as a warm body. (3)
Parental use of porn can have indirect effects on kids. Kids do not have to use porn to be victims. They are victims when dad loses his job for surfing porn at work, or splits up with mom over his addiction. More directly, some kids walk in on dad as he acts out, discover his ‘hidden’ files, or overhear his phone sex. None of this is pretty.
Porn hijacks healthy sexual development. Relative to young people who consume little online-porn, high consumers hold distinct sex beliefs and attitudes, engage in certain behaviors, and view themselves differently. In particular they:
Given this litany of liabilities, one may wonder why anyone accesses porn. For many brings pleasure to a boring or wounded life.
What will your response be to the knowledge that, beyond immediate gratification, porn fails to gratify generally?
Sexual curiosity is part of maturing in young adulthood; how will you educate yourself? Are there friends or role models you can confide in regarding porn use, and become accountable in this area? What agreements might you make with such people from this point forward?
For resources regarding pornography and how to deal with it, see Fight the New Drug.
1) Kasper, Thomas Edward, Mary Beth Short, and Alex Clinton Milam. 2015. "Narcissism and Internet Pornography Use." Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy 41, no. 5: 481-486.
2) This research discussed in Jill C. Manning, “The Impact of Internet Pornography on Marriage and the Family: A Review of the Research,” Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity 13 (2006): 131–165.
3) See Raymond M. Bergner and Ana J. Bridges, “The Significance of Heavy Pornography Involvement
for Romantic Partners: Research and Clinical Implications.” Journal ofSex & Marital Therapy 28 (2002): 197, as quoted in Jill C. Manning, “The Impact of Internet Pornography on Marriage and the Family: A Review of the Research,” Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity 13 (2006): 142.
4) This research discussed in Eric W. Owens , Richard J. Behun , Jill C. Manning & Rory C. Reid, “The
Impact of Internet Pornography on Adolescents: A Review of the Research,” Sexual Addiction &
Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment & Prevention 19 (2012): 99-122.
Bill Strom, Author
I am a believer by faith, a professor by vocation, a husband by choice, a father by blessing, and a friend by hanging out. Along the way I have learned about close relating through my experiences, biblical models, and social science research. Hopefully my ideas and encouragement show up here in ways meaningful to you.