When I was a little girl I remember thinking that Mama was the most beautiful woman in the world.
Then somewhere along the way to puberty the bloom came off the rose. I noticed that Mama didn’t have beautiful, beauty shop hair, pearl earrings, and full cotton skirts that looked perfect for twirling like my best friend’s mama. She wasn’t like the perky, young homemaker next door in the brand new ranch house with the beautifully manicured lawn and the weedless flowerbeds filled with petunias either. She was just plain Mama in her homemade cotton dress there in our big old house with the weed filled lawn on Dartmouth Street doing her best to feed and clothe us seven kids. Mama was my just plain beautiful Mama. Mama was my roots.
I used to daydream that Mama was different, more expressive of her feelings, and more open to hearing about mine. I’m glad I realized before it was too late that sometimes we miss the blessing of what we do have while we are wishing for what we don’t. When I suffered my first broken heart in high school, Mama didn’t ask me about my tears. But when I got a last minute date to the prom, Mama worked night and day to sew me a dress to wear. That’s the way Mama loved us kids…by doing. In her last hours here on earth us kids took turns holding her thin, little, arthritis twisted hands…those hands that had said “I love you” through every delicious meal she cooked, every loaf of bread she baked, every cookie made, every stitch of home sewn clothes she so carefully made, every floor mopped, every shirt ironed.
I saw through Mama that you’re never too old to change. As we grew older she became more verbally and physically demonstrative to us of her love. When the grandkids came along she became even more so. By the time she had great grandbabies there was no holds barred in her quest for hugs and kisses and in her many declarations that “Grandma loves you!”
Mama also loved us kids by putting our needs before her own. After Daddy left, she got a job that was a 45 minute drive away from home. She chose to commute, rather than to move us kids from the house we had grown up in and the school we went to through our high school graduation. Her focus was caring for us, not a social life for herself. Our life was simple and drama free. Mama got up well before dawn and was home in time for us to sit down together at the kitchen table for dinner. On her vacations she loaded up the car and took us camping.
Mama served Jesus in the same simple, common sense way she raised us kids. She would never have claimed to be a great woman of faith, but faith is demonstrated by what we do. In Mama’s simple obedience I see great faith. When her life’s journey took her through the deep valley of despair, though she may have wanted to give up, she woke up in the morning, got out of bed, put one foot in front of the other and kept walking…right on THROUGH that valley and right on INTO the land of blessing. That’s where Mama spent her last days, in the land of blessing, filled to overflowing with kids, grandkids, great grandkids and great great grandkids all around her. Her simple, uncomplicated faith and obedience in raising us in a church that loved us, changed our lives, the lives of our children and grandchildren, and the lives of all those we have influenced for His kingdom, including people in other nations of the world. Her simple obedience in giving caused all of us to see the truth that God blesses obedience. His provision in her life was undeniable.
A few weeks before Mama died, my youngest brother, oldest living sister, and I were in her room discussing her decision to get hospice services. When we were done talking, we had prayer together, and Mama, who often told me she didn’t know how to pray very well, prayed one of the most eloquent, beautiful prayers I’ve ever heard.
She thanked God for her blessings. She didn’t recount the many valleys life had led her through, she counted her blessings.
Then she asked God that not one, not a single one, of her descendants would be lost... not one would face death without knowing the One Who Is Eternal Life.
Then she spoke a blessing over all of us.
It was an unforgettable moment.
I thank God for the just plain beautiful Mama He gave me. I miss her already.
My dear blog friends,
Your prayers and kind comments since Mama’s death have meant more to me than words can say. Today was Mama’s memorial service. It was a blessing to me to be able to write and to read the words posted above. I struggled for two days trying to write what was in my heart to share at her service. My daughter said, “Just write a blog post, Mom.”, and when I did, it all came together. So here, my friends, is the tribute to my Mama, that you, in essence, helped me to get out of my heart and onto paper.
With love and gratitude,