My Mother

She would have been the third child, had they lived.  I don’t know much about her older brother and sister, only that they drew breath briefly and then they were gone.  I have seen their gravestones tucked in the Arkansas dirt.  The third child is traditionally the fun-loving clown who gets away with most anything.  She was to have been the third child but their deaths moved her to the front of the line.  She is my mother.  The living picked up where the dead left off and she became one of the most responsible, organized, smart, and driven people I know.  She is also one of the toughest.  She graduated from college, the first in her family’s line, with honors and a degree in teaching.  She went on to instruct future generations in advanced mathematics - geometry, trigonometry, and calculus.  And marry a preacher. 


Had she been allowed to remain the last child, the carefree crazy heart, I’m sure my life would have been radically different.  She sought to make sure I had everything I needed and much of what I wanted.  Her financial scrimping and saving, and my father would readily attest to this, made certain our family of four enjoyed vacations, college degrees came to pass for my brother and me, my teeth are relatively straight, and I know how to play the piano.  Her nurturing made certain I knew the way to iron a Sunday shirt and the last words I heard each and every day were goodnight, I love you.  The national debt pales in comparison to what I owe my mother…there just aren’t enough zeros.

I do not believe my mother would trade her life for another.  It is the life she’s been given and she’s made the best of it.  But there have been moments, especially since her grandchildren have now come to live, that I’d swear I’ve heard a last child’s laugh.  Maybe those moments have been there all along, its just that now I am paying attention.  Like that moment this past December in Winter Park, CO as I helped her up a tubing hill and when we reached the top she said its o.k., I’ve got it and she leaned in and let gravity and Jesus take the wheel and flew down an ice covered bank.  I was just behind her on the way down, close enough to catch glimpses of, what I believe, were the carefree eyes of a little girl getting away with something.  Like her siblings before her, those moments are brief, then gone.  But they are there, I have seen them, I am witness…oh to grace, how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be…

I’m keeping an open mind about heaven being literal streets of gold and walls of jasper.   For all I know, it could just as easily be piercing blue skies and snow-white tubing hills in CO.  But whatever the particulars, I believe there will be a childlike quality to the land that is fairer than day, that place where we will be as God dreamed us to be.  One of these moments, when I step into those days without end, I will pause and listen for her, for I believe my mother will be found by her laugh, like a youngest child at ease, no more cares, no more worries, free at last, free at last.  Home.





9 comments:

  1. As I'm just starting to learn with our first, grandchildren bring out a magic that you don't really know is there. And you can become a child again. Great post, John, and a great tribute.

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  2. Stunning. Absolutely stunning.

    Dear God, I hope I can write like this one day.

    Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Another post eliciting misty eyes and goosebumps!

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  4. Whenever I think about my parents as children, it makes me feel melancholy and like I could just weep for them. I just realized that when I read this beautiful post. I'm not even sure why that is.

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  5. Found you via Glynn ... and what a find it is!

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  6. Such a great son. I truly believe that is part of what makes you such a great friend, too!

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  7. Thank God Almighty, this was good stuff brother-man.

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  8. Lovely tribute to an obviously wonderful mother, and woman. It's amazing to me how a life touches so many others. Her life touches mine through your words.

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