Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A legacy of hope…


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One of my first memories of Mama is of her mopping the dining room floor of our tall old house on Dartmouth Street.  I have no early memories of hugs and kisses, rocking and songs, snuggles and cuddles with Mama.  My memories are of the homemade bread and cookies, the stiff Sunday dresses hemmed by hand with her perfectly straight tiny stiches, the freshly washed, wind-dried sheets that I climbed between on Saturday nights after my bath, my hair all in pin curls waiting to be unfurled for Sunday School the next morning.  This is how Mama loved us, with the work of her hands.

Daddy was the one who knew how to speak the same love language I did.  Words and notes, imaginative stories and silly songs, snuggles and cuddles and the back scratches that I loved.   When I was nine he left Mama and he left us, and my heart knew the loneliness of a stranger in a foreign land where no one speaks her native tongue.

It wasn’t that Mama didn’t try.  She worked her fingers to the bone trying, commuting almost an hour each way to work so we didn’t have to move from our hometown, our home, our school after Daddy left, still sewing, cooking, cleaning after the long drive home. But back then, I wasn’t bilingual, and I just didn’t understand what she was trying to tell me.

When I was in high school Mama signed us up for a Christian class that was popular back then.  It was all about youth and their needs and training them in godly character.  Something happened in Mama when we took that class together.  She purposed to learn my language.  She chose to try to change.  I remember the day, us sitting together in that mustard colored Ford Maverick as she drove me to a babysitting job. She told me how much she loved me, how proud she was of me.  She wasn’t very fluent and it all seemed a bit unnatural and awkward, but I remember that day.  I remember.

Through the years Mama expressed her love more and more with words, with hugs, and yes, still with the best homemade bread I have ever tasted.  When the grandbabies came along, then the great grands, and then even some great-great grands, she loved them lavishly with her words and her hugs and her kisses.  Mama chose to learn, to try, to change, and she did.

Eight months ago my brothers and sisters and I, and many of our children and their children, surrounded Mama during her last hours on earth.  Her last words were words of love.  Her last actions, hugs and patting us with her frail little hands.  Mama left us all with a legacy of hope, a legacy of promise.  She taught us that, with God’s help, it’s never too late to change.


Still following,




  1. I knew I was going to cry from the moment I saw your pictures. This is a beautifully-told love story, Elizabeth. How you honor your mother! I admire her for learning a tongue foreign to her native one. I hope I keep learning to speak my daughters' languages. Sometimes I'm not sure that I'm doing very well...

  2. This is beautiful, and challenging. There are so many ways available for us to lay our lives down for those we love.
    Your mama modeled that in many ways for you. I needed the reminder today to KEEP TRYING.

  3. Thank you for sharing your beautiful memories!
    What a brilliant example she set.

  4. Okay... (sniff, sniff) I guess it was YOUR turn to bless ME with this one!

    I can feel the love in your words. A classic lesson, and a great reminder to keep hoping and believing! There is nothing too impossible for God!

    So glad you shared this! I hope you don't mind if I decide to link up to it and share the love on my blog!


  5. Thank you for this. I talk to my mom on the phone every morning. Every morning I end the call with "I love you, mom." She can never say it back to me. Sometimes she tries and trips over the words. It's just not her language. But the love it there.

  6. what a beautiful legacy she leaves as well...she is a wonderful example to us all...

  7. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story, so well full of love and hope and redemption. I honor the steps your mom took to learn a new love language and I take encouragement from her example.

    I am looking forward to spending more time in your blog!

  8. A precious tribute to the legacy of your dear mother!

  9. this is so incredibly moving. it's what my father is striving to do for me--to learn my language. it means the world, this trying, no? love you.

  10. So, so precious. Never to late to change. Amen.

  11. This was really beautiful. I knew when I saw the thumbnail that it would be about your mom. I remember her passing. You were a very blessed daughter.

  12. Oh friend ...

    Deep sigh here.

    I love the way your mama loved you. How she did it through the straight stitches and the fumbled love language, and then coming around to those hugs. And all of it -- even the messy parts -- were love, yes?

    Thank you, thank you for participating in this group-writing project for You've painted a lovely word portrait.

  13. Thank you for this. This beautiful post, in 5 months it will be eight months since my mama has passed and I hope my words come as beautifully as your. Thank you.

  14. What a beautiful tribute! I feel as if I have met her - through your eyes she is beautiful. So happy that I stumbled onto you this evening!

  15. This is beautiful. It reminded me of my grandmother.

  16. Oh! *tears* Thank You, Jesus, for working grear change in us...for making us all the time more like you.

    I LOVE this.

  17. In love, we can choose to make an effort to move into someone else's world to know them better, to reach out, to listen, to share our hearts. This effort your Mama made touches my heart; her desire to connect. The picture of her frail hands patting yours is so real, so tangible.

    Thank you for this word portrait, for sharing it with us.

  18. wow... so much. I am in tears for many reasons. ((hugs)) when our dad left my oldest sister was age 9... we were all touched and affected by that decision. We were five (me) seven and nine.


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