I miss my mother. She passed three years ago at the ripe old age of 97. Her life was a long and productive one in her children’s eyes, and although she was only 4 foot, 10 inches tall, she was a powerful woman.
Dad always explained that we had a family because my mother’s loving, accepting care was always center for him and us kids. His love, gratitude and respect for my mother was unmoved in all their 60-plus years of marriage.
Mom’s love for Dad was just as great a resolve for him, and remained steady even after his death. She had a great many suitors after Dad passed, but she could not see herself with any other man. We all encouraged her to move ahead in life, but Dad was the only man for her.
My mother cared for Dad through the difficult debilitating years of his Parkinson’s disease. Dad was physically fit throughout his life, which helped him be independent longer than a lot of Parkinson’s patients. Age and illness eventually caught up with him, and it took a great deal of my mother’s life to care for him.
Eventually, his illness took a great cost on her health, too. Dad eventually suffered a light stroke, and he was admitted into a care facility. It was difficult for mother to not have him at home. She brought him Blue Bell ice cream and visited him every day until he passed.
Mother had five children. I had an older brother, two older sisters and one younger sister. Our oldest brother passed in 1958 at the age of 22. His presence was always felt in our family. She used to mention how odd it was that Kenneth was the oldest of all her children, and yet he was still 22 years old when we continued to age.
She never quite recovered from losing him. He was named after her older brother, Kenneth, who passed when he was only 12. For her, one name carried the weight of two great losses in life. She loved all of us, but humans remember who we lose. After all, that’s why I’m writing right now.
Well, Mother invested a great deal in all of us, but I was the last of her sons. In her generation, there was a one-sided focus on the male descendants of the family. My wife often noticed that all my sisters are more than capable of making excellent decisions, and yet Mother leaned on me for guidance. I always asked my sisters’ opinions concerning our care for Mom, and most often we agreed.
Before my father passed, my mother’s life was the secure foundation for my him. It seemed that she unselfishly lived for him. She never disagreed with him in public, but I do remember walking by their closed bedroom door and hearing them quietly discussing our family’s life and the life of the church.
They did disagree on things from time to time, but they always presented a united front in public. I remember those side glances that Mom would give Dad when she disagreed with him in public, but you had to be super quick to catch them. Everyone, including us kids, knew that it was impossible to divide and conquer my parents.
Following my father’s death, my mother’s life moved forward in a wonderful way. Although she always missed my father, her volunteer leadership in the retirement community and the church was amazing. She would talk about faith, family, politics, the past, the changes in the present, and the reality of a future beyond our control.
We discussed the values of life and how she continued to grow in her perspective of life. I got to watch her blossom in her own way into the independent, capable, loving woman she had always held in reserve before my father’s passing. She was funny, insightful and accepting.
Each of us kids made mistakes in our lives, but Mother’s core value was loving loyalty. It wasn’t blind loyalty, but it was always loving. Her ability to express acceptance in the middle of great difficulties was inspiring.
She always said, “The Lord will help you through this. The Lord has the best for you.” I still hear her voice in the middle of difficult times. Maybe that’s why I remember her often. Her consistent commitment to a loving of God shaped her life and left an indelible spiritual mark on all her children’s hearts.
Well, I miss my mother, but her presence is always with me. Her expressions, her glances, her way of sighing, her constant humming of hymns, and her loving loyalty in life laid a foundation of possibilities before me.
The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy and stated, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and now, I am sure, lives in you. For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you . . .”
I’m thankful for my mother’s living example of loving loyalty, and I’m my mother’s son.