Journalist for Life Michael Coren

Journalist for Life Michael Coren

The last time I saw my dad alive was as he walked, arm in arm, with my mum through the departure gates of Toronto airport. It was symbolic. He turned around to wave goodbye. In a few weeks, he would be dead. I found out after his death that he had been suffering from agonizing bone cancer that had taken hold of his spine. This, combined with the after-effects of a stroke from a year earlier, must have made life intensely difficult for him. Yet, both literally and metaphorically, he stood upright.

Mum had been suffering from dementia for six months when she and dad flew back to England. Her ability to communicate was minimal and this must have made things even worse for dad. But the image I will always have is not of pain and brokenness, but of the love. Of two people in old age who held each other’s arms and made a seven-hour journey back to the small house in which they had lived for 40 years and raised two children.

And this is at the very foundation of the argument for marriage. Love, in its purest sense. It is not that we are against anything, as much as we are for something. We are for marriage, and as marriage can only be the union of a man and a woman, any extension of that concept becomes a perversion and mockery of it and thus destroys its very essence.

Gay people may live together and I wish them no harm. But whatever they have, it is not a marriage. Not what Phil and Sheila Coren had. Not what mum and dad had.

What epitomized the marriage of my parents was its sheer ordinariness. They didn’t do exotic things, didn’t travel the world. But they did change it. Because what they did do was raise a family. Here is the glorious, gorgeous quintessence of family. They raised children and did it well.

Please understand me here. Those who cannot have children have my sympathy. They are still valid, vital husbands and wives and have a marvelous role to play in that wonder that is the carnival of human existence. But it is when husband and wife also become father and mother than we see love, devotion and sacrifice at its best.

I have never understood my parents as much as I do now. Because I have children and I understand that, frankly, there are times when I want my wife to myself and my time to myself. But that option was given up when we decided to bring children into the world. The rewards are beyond compare, but let nobody pretend that the price is not high.

Nobody wrote novels or movies about my parents, they weren’t represented by any special interest group and they didn’t even say anything when their lifestyle began to be mocked and marginalized on television. This is important. In my experience, those who genuinely care about family are far too busy living the reality to spend much time indulging the fantasy. In other words, walking the walk makes it very difficult to publicly talk the talk. Because of this, the state of marriage has been under siege from ugly weapons firing vile ammunition.

Family is not some labyrinth of abuse, violence and fear. That’s not family at all, but the lack of it. Some look to the broken examples and take them as the norm. The average family is largely ignored precisely because it is average. The family that works is not of interest to the pundits and the activists. It’s all about the extraordinary with the ordinary. There is all the glamour and splendour and romance and adventure that anyone could ever want within the family, within marriage, if anyone is prepared to actually look. 

Did my parents argue? Of course. They were sometimes angry at one another, sometimes shouted. But by then, they had established a fine foundation of love, empathy and mutual care and respect. I hated it when mum and dad argued, but I no more thought they would leave one another than fly to the moon.

Dad never had paid holidays, not as a self-employed cab driver. But Christmas Day had to be with his family. So he would work until long past midnight on Christmas Eve to make the money. Christmas began for me when I heard the distinctive noise of his taxi’s diesel engine at the bottom of the road. Then I could sleep and wait for Santa. Even now, that same noise brings a lump to my throat.

I remember when mum picked the seven-year-old Michael up from school and had been to the hairdresser to have her hair dyed. I cried, because it didn’t look like mum anymore. She went back to the hairdresser and had it changed. She was a beautiful woman in her 30s at the time. I now realize what that act meant.

It was family. It is family. Mum and dad are gone now, but they passed on the torch and that torch of family burns brightly. God willing, it will never go out.

 Michael Coren’s website is, where he can be booked for church and event speaking.