Monday Musings for 8.17.20
Will you indulge me as I tell you about my mother?
I just wrote her obituary, only the second obituary I have ever written (the first being my dad’s). I have attached it. But I want to share something less formal, more personal with you.
I had a great mother. One thing I am grateful for is that she raised me in the church. Among my earliest memories are being tucked into bed and being taught the Lord’s Prayer, long before I had any idea what “trespasses” were. I remember driving to church (we were always late), sitting in the back seat, and Mother twisting from her passenger seat to examine my face and then clean it, because people could always see what I’d eaten for breakfast. She had nothing to use but her spit. I remember I didn’t like that.
My mom and my dad were as different as two people could be. Yesterday I preached on the verse, “Love is patient and kind.” My dad was the patient one. My mom excelled at kindness. She was kind almost to a fault, always putting others ahead of herself.
My dad was the outdoorsman. My mom would have been happy to stay home, but she would not think of letting us go on our mountain adventures without her. My sister remembers her saying, “If we die, at least we die as a family.” Those mountains I list in her obituary are not easy climbs. No small number of people have died on them. But somehow Mother willed herself to the top each time.
She never learned to drive. She walked everywhere she went. Madras is small, but not that small. I remember helping her push big shopping carts full of groceries. A little embarrassing for a kid who risked being teased about his “bag lady” mom.
Whenever I had a question about right or wrong, or just social etiquette, I knew who to ask. She gave the best advice. She was a great listener. You could talk to her about anything.
I used to be pretty judgmental about sexual orientation. But back in the dark ages, back when most everyone was judgmental and gay people were still in the closet, my mom was ahead of her time. Acceptance of people as they are was always big to her.
One fault Mother did not suffer from was overconfidence. Her self-image was low. I never understood that. She would apologize for her cooking, but she was a great cook. She would apologize for her appearance, but she always looked great. She was good at crafts and at gardening, but she didn’t think she was. If something went wrong, she always thought it must be her fault.
And one thing she struggled with her entire life was worry. She worried about her children constantly. If we did not come home when we said we would, she convinced herself that there must have been some horrible accident. I learned to tell Mother to expect me at 2 pm, when I planned to be there at 1 pm. She would smile as she answered the door and say, “Oh good, now I don’t have to worry!”
Her signature line was, “I just want you to be happy.” When I would talk to her on the phone in recent years, we would go down the list of family members. She would ask each time, “Is he happy? Is she happy?” I remember years ago Dad pointing out to her that there is more to life than being happy. Drug addicts take drugs that make them happy. But still she wanted us to be happy. Even if she wasn’t.
Mother was a complicated person. I think we all are. But she was as good a person as you will ever meet.
I was glad to see her suffering end, but am I ever going to miss her! Thanks for giving me this chance to tell you about her. It helps.