A Tribute to Mom
She was thirty years old when we first met. Since I was newly born, I was zero, and like anyone else at that age, I wasn’t aware of how important Mom was outside of her taking care of my infant needs. But as I would grow up, I would come to realize how blessed I was to have her as my mother. In addition to making sure I always had enough to eat and clothes to wear, she did the even more important work of teaching me the value of sacrifice, loyalty, commitment, and love.
Dad also played an important role, but I didn’t grasp the value of his influence until I was an adult. Mom, I appreciated right away. Growing up, she was the one I spent the most time with. She put in the hours with me while Dad was working to put a roof over our head and food on the table. She listened, she protected, she encouraged, she disciplined, she loved unconditionally, and she laughed at my silly jokes. To this day when I say something I think is funny and no one laughs, I’m not discouraged. I know Mom would have laughed.
Early on it was obvious that Mom gave much more than she received. Her love, her loyalty, her patience, and her gentle manner established a healthy foundation for me to build my life on. She never demanded anything in return. As I’ve matured, I have tried to embody these qualities myself as well as give back to her everything she gave to me.
There are a lot of things I remember, but there are also a lot of things I don’t remember, probably because they rarely, if ever, happened. I do not recall her ever losing her temper or yelling at me. I don’t recall her ever disciplining me out of anger. I do not remember her ever telling me she was too busy to listen or too tired to care. She always made me feel like I was the most important person in the world.
This past Monday night, February 27th, at the age of ninety-one, Mom went home to be with the Lord. I have hundreds of memories that mean everything to me and nothing to anyone else, so I’m going to skip sharing those, but I do want to honor her in this newsletter.
My wife Susie, my sister Mary Lou, and I had the privilege of spending time with Mom those last precious hours before she passed. She was bedridden. Her time was close. She was awake but could not open her eyes. She couldn’t speak but would occasionally try to move her arm or turn her head in an effort to respond to our presence. We took turns sitting by the side of her bed, holding her hand, and telling her how much we loved her.
I remember thinking to myself, “How do I say goodbye to someone who’s been a best friend every day of my life?” I couldn’t think of a way, so I just stroked her forehead as she had done with me as a baby, told her how proud I was to be her son... that she was the greatest mom in the world... that I loved her... that Mary Lou loved her... that Susie loved her... that the whole world loved her, and that everything was going to be just fine... all while trying not to burst into tears.
After a moment of silence, we sang a couple of Mom’s favorite hymns, prayed, and watched her fall into a deep sleep. A few short hours later, God called her home.
My immediate response was sadness but quickly moved to thankfulness. Her mental and physical condition had taken a turn these last years, and none of us wanted to see her confused or in pain any longer. And because of the promises of God, we knew this was not the end but a transition to life everlasting. I thanked God that Mom had finished this stage of life well, but I also asked Him for some comfort for me. I sensed Him speak to my heart, “Don’t worry, Gary, you’ll see her again soon.” Startled, I quickly asked, “How soon is soon?” He responded, “Well, just think how fast the last sixty-one years flew by, and that should give you a clue.” And I thought, Yeah, no matter how long it is... it’s soon.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 (NLT)
13 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.
October 31, 1925 – February 27, 2017