From my earliest memories I have no memory of Mom being angry with me. I gave her plenty of reasons to be. I have memories of being disciplined….but not with anger. My only memories are of my mom’s kindness and care for me. I can’t put into words the powerful effect this had on me. The Bible says that “a kindhearted woman gains respect”. Mom was a living example to me of this truth.
She was a joyful mother. After five difficult years of wanting to have children, Mom was told that she would never be able to have children. The LORD proved that doctor to be very wrong…..and gave Mom and Dad three girls. Mom lived in the joy of that gift everyday of her life. We were the recipients of her joy in being our mother. It’s one thing to fulfill your responsibilities because you should….it’s another thing to do it with joy. I have so many memories of us all singing together…or getting into giggle fits (Mom included!)…Mom reading to us…making cookies together…. The joy she had in mothering had a profound effect on me.
Mom loved music. She was a piano major at Nyack College. She knew the technical aspects of music…..but she loved the simple experience of music….the movement of music. Dad was an interim pastor of a Black Baptist church when I was 8 years old. I remember the first Sunday we were there. The choir clapped and swayed when they sang. I wasn’t sure what to think. I looked at Mom and she was swaying and tapping her leg. She loved the movement of music. This was a vivid moment in my life that opened a door to freedom.
Mom was the most hospitable woman I have ever known. Her hospitality went far beyond having people over for dinner. Mom and Dad had people stay with them for days…even weeks as they convalesced from illness or as they were traveling. They extended themselves to their neighbors and treated them like family (a whole book could be written about how they did this). She and Dad went beyond the normal opportunities to extend hospitality and brought meals to AIDS patients for years. They did this during their “retirement”.
Mom was raised in a Christian home. At some point in her young life, her parent’s faith became her own. As she matured she began to feel her indebtedness to God—that He had made her and that she belonged to Him. She lived in a small, rural town in Eastern Ohio. She worked at the Post Office after high school. No one had any expectation that she would ever leave. But she longed to follow God in whatever He wanted for her. One night when no one was home she knelt down at the couch in the living room and poured out her longing to God. She told Him that she wanted whatever life He had for her and that she wanted to consecrate herself to Him. Immediately she felt that God told her to go to Nyack College. When her parents came home she told them what she felt God had said to her. Classes were to start in 2 weeks! But she knew that if it was God’s will, then all the doors would open to her. Two weeks later she was in Nyack, New York attending her first class. One year later she was sitting on the steps of her dorm when she saw this handsome guy pull up in his pickup truck loaded with students. He jumped out and ran in to the college Post Office. Then he bounded back down the stairs and drove away. She was instantly drawn to him.
The life that God had for Mom required courage. Many, many moves. A year alone raising 3 girls with Dad in Viet Nam. Living in other countries. She learned to meet fears and anxieties with prayer. Prayer wasn’t a religious exercise for Mom. It was time with her trusted Savior. Mom prayed her way through things. Her family has come to rely on Mom’s prayers.
Mom loved Dad. We watched their love for each other only deepen and grow sweeter as the years went on. Mom was devoted to this man. We 3 girls have had the amazing honor of watching Mom’s love, respect and self-less devotion to Dad. She would do anything for him with no thought for herself. Her most difficult day in all her illness was Dad’s birthday, because she couldn’t do anything for him.
A couple of weeks before Mom’s death I told her that “I thought that when she reached Heaven and was walking into the city she would hear loud and escalating cheering. You’re going to think that someone really great must be coming up behind you. You’re going to suddenly realize that they’re cheering for you.” She looked at me with her “I-don’t-know-what-you-are-talking-about” look. I laughed and said, “Oh, that is definitely going to happen!” Mom’s greatness lay in the reality that she never saw herself as great. She was not relying on her goodness to qualify her for Heaven’s streets. She was relying solely on Jesus’ goodness. On His loving and self-less life and death. And in turn He enabled her to live an extraordinarily loving and self-less life.
Her reward awaits her.
Comment from Cynthia: Thank you so much for your comments. I treasure each one. Thank you for helping me honor my mother.