Have you ever met someone who is kind, sweet, caring, considerate, compassionate, empathetic, loving, and so much more all rolled up into one person? Have you ever met someone who loved to sing- whether it be while cleaning around the house, putting kids to bed, at church, or even doing karaoke? Have you ever met someone who ALWAYS put your needs before their own? Have you ever met someone who would support you no matter what because it wasn’t their job to judge? Who would walk by your side through thick and thin and would tell you when you were wrong but would still be there? Have you ever met someone who was so deeply in love with the Lord that even if they just came home from the hospital they wanted to be at church to worship and learn?
Please meet my mother! She was the best mother anyone could ever ask for. I know my memories vary from my siblings and they will even tell you “Mom didn’t do that”. The reason is- I am the youngest child by 8, 10 and 12 years. So although we all had the same mom and we are all siblings- I didn’t have to fight for attention or one on one time with her because my siblings were all out of the house. I remember bits and pieces from when they were home- but to be honest- not a whole lot.
I remember when I was younger, if I didn’t clean my room the way mom wanted it- she would dump everything out and sit there and make you redo it. She didn’t do this out of spite but rather to teach us a lesson. While at the time I didn’t understand what this lesson was, I now understand that it was not only to assist us in cleaning the right way, but it was also a lesson on completing what you finish. It was about not doing something halfway but to give it your all and do your best. After all, that was all she wanted! She wanted us to do our best and to succeed.
I remember wanting to go to a friends house and only being allowed to be there an hour and how she would stand outside and watch me walk there and back- and yet I had to call her when I arrived and when I was ready to go home. I was only allowed to be on the phone for ten minutes at a time, I wasn’t allowed to call boys or even walk outside to talk to them if they walked down the street. They had to come to the door. Well- I always thought she was being over protective- but again I was wrong…. I had more lessons to learn. What you may ask? Going to a friends house or being on the phone with time limits taught me to value the time we have with someone- you never know when it will be your last. It showed me how much she loved me- that although she knew where I was and physically could see me arrive- she wanted me to call because then she knew I was inside and safe. She taught me to walk with my head up and to be aware of my surroundings. This was a very valuable gift that she taught me. When I wasn’t allowed to call boys or to go outside and talk to them- she was teaching me value- that I need to value myself and not just settle or go after any of them. She taught me that if they were worth my time, they would respect me and treat me with respect by calling me or coming to the door.
My mom taught me the value in doing little things; that sometimes they mean more than the bigger things. (I will say that pretty much always mean more than the bigger things.) She taught me that when you create something for someone else that it has much more meaning than if you just go out any buy something for someone…. why? When you make something, you take the time to do it for the simple reason you want to do something for someone else- not because you “have” to.
My first job was in a bowling alley- I worked in the nursery and at the snack bar. My mom taught me the value of hard work. She taught me that when I don’t have anything to do, to find something to do- there is always something to clean. She taught me about kindness and to be outgoing. She taught me how to strike up conversations with customers as they came up. Now, you may be wondering how I learned my work ethic and customer service from her. That is an easy one- she was my manager. She expected more out of me than anyone else there. She knew what I was capable of and pushed me to exceed it.
My mom taught me about the value of family. She always said that family is important and we need to be there for each other. She was raise where once the kids moved out that it was their responsibility to go see the parents and to take their children to see their grandparents also. This is a lesson that is very much lost on the younger generation. She taught me that when the world turned their back on you, your family was still there and would always be there to love and support you and to walk by your side. She taught me the importance of keeping in touch. She used to hate that she only saw family members at funerals. We used to have family reunions and would rely on the younger generations to help plan and set them up- but they sadly have not continued with them. She taught me that family isn’t about only coming around when you want or need something, but just to visit and spend quality time with one another, to learn each other and to grow closer together. If family wasn’t important- God wouldn’t have given them to us.
I have a love of Christmas thanks to my mom. She loved Christmas- it wasn’t about the gifts, it was about family, spending time together, the decorations and watching the big snowflakes fall. (Although she always said she didn’t like the snow, just like how it looked in the grass and the big flakes falling down.) We would set the tree up the Sunday after Thanksgiving when my dad would leave for his hunting trip. We would set up characters around the house that played music (which my drove my dad crazy). There was something about looking at all of the lights on houses and just sitting there looking at our tree that was just mesmerizing. We would play Christmas music, sometimes string popcorn, and just decorate. It soon became one of my favorite times of the year. Around Easter, we would go to the park and find a good branch, paint it white and put it in a pot with soil and Easter grass on top. Then we would put holes in both ends of an egg, one slightly bigger than the other and we would blow the yolk and white part out. once they were done, we would put a string through them and decorate them. These became our decorations for our Easter tree! It is a memory that will never leave me.
Although I don’t remember as much from when I was a child, I can tell you now that my mother was of strong faith. She believed that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ died on the cross for her. She loved going to church, she always put others before herself, sometimes a little too much. She never complained and tried to come across as being strong. She wanted to get out and volunteer, but was unable to due to her health. No matter what she faced, she never seemed to lose her faith. She could have been in the greatest pain, but tried to always keep a smile on her face and give it to God. She never wanted to put anyone out, she felt like if she asked for help that she would be a burden on someone else. She didn’t feel like it was right for her to accept help from others when she couldn’t physically help them as well. She was the strongest person I knew.
You may wonder why I am writing this, September 28th marked seven months since we laid our mom, and dad’s wife to rest. I thought instead of reflecting on the sadness of our earthly loss, I would focus on things she taught us/me.
She went peacefully, and quickly. Too quickly to be honest. God had prepared her room and called her home. The evening that she passed we spent it by her bedside reading scripture, playing some of her favorite Christian music, and of course Elvis Presley’s gospel album. She had been surrounded by family, she heard our Pastor’s prayer and was ready to go home. She was worried about how we would handle it if she passed, but we all assured her that we would be okay.
To be honest- I still struggle, we all do and we all will for some time. But- we struggle with joy- looking back over some of our fond memories of her. We struggle with sadness- for the person who is no longer walking beside us holding our hand or picking on us. We struggle with love- knowing that she loved us so very much- that she put God first, then dad, then us- her family. We struggle with memories- though some bring tears, some also fill us with love, peace, joy, gratefulness, and so much more. We know she is in a better place.