One of the greatest blessings of my life has been having a mother who lovingly nurtured me as a child and continued to love and support me throughout life. I was the first born of three, so I benefitted in early childhood because mom stayed home. Until the birth of my brother seven years later, I was the beneficiary of her undivided attention. I witnessed what the responsibility of being a mom and a wife detailed – laundry, vacuuming, dusting, dishwashing, sweeping, mopping, changing bed linen and, of course, cooking.
I have been told that I am a pretty good cook, and the reason is mom. Many an evening I laid on my stomach on the kitchen floor scanning baseball box scores in the newspaper while mom prepped supper. I watched how she did things and would ask questions to which she always patiently explained the answer.
Now at 67, I remember how important it was as a child just knowing mom was nearby. Having her at home for the first seven years of my life was a blessing. I fondly recall watching soap operas as we snapped green beans and being mesmerized at her ability to effortlessly slice corn off the cob for frying. I still make my cornbread exactly like hers. In fact, after I left for the Air Force, one of the first gifts she sent me was a cast-iron skillet to make cornbread.
Mom was always the strong one. As a toddler I once fell into a mud puddle with some broken glass and cut my arm. I got back to the house with blood covering my arm. Mom and dad rushed me to the hospital. Mom, ever the strong one, watched as the doctor stitched up my arm. At one point Doctor Turner turned to dad and said, “Tracy you’re white as a sheet, get out of here before we’re picking you up off the floor!” He retreated. Mom stayed.
Like many teenagers, I developed a “sassy mouth.” One summer afternoon dad and I had been working in the garden. Walking back, I made some sassy remark. Dad grabbed a broom and took a swing at my butt. I took off like a coyote, howling as dad chased. Mom was standing on the back porch watching the saga unfold. Dad never could quite catch me so he would reach out and swing. I’d jump and yell, frustrating Dad as he whiffed with each swipe. Huffing and puffing he finally surrendered. I remember seeing mom bent over double laughing at us.
I did not know at the time (mom would not tell me until years later), but the day they dropped me off to go to basic training in the Air Force, mom and dad cried the whole 30-mile trip back home from Nashville. They loved me, but were proud to see me go. It is not an easy thing for parents to watch their firstborn grow up and then leave. That was 45 years ago, and mom tells me she still misses me.
If she is nothing else, mom is a survivor. Within a few months her husband of 38 years, her mother whom she loved beyond expression and her closest sister all died. Only at age 53, Mom did the only thing she could do. She held on to Jesus. Many a night I would hear my mother reading Scripture and then crying. Her example would one day remind me on where to seek comfort after the death of my wife.
Mom is now 87 years old and in good health. A truly remarkable woman, she loves working in flowers and reading Francine Rivers’ novels – along with her Bible. She has raised three children, including the greatest truck driver UPS has ever had (my brother Jeff) and the best kindergarten teacher in the history of Tennessee, my sister, Leann (who was born on mom’s birthday).
I am so grateful to God that he gave me a mom who would love me so much that Jesus was always in our home. It wasn’t until a few years ago that mom told me this: I was 10 years old on the Sunday morning I was saved in a church built by her father (my grandad). As all the members came by to welcome me into their fellowship, our pastor leaned over to mom and whispered: “Cecelia, we just might have us a little preacher boy here.”
It sure looks to me like God was telling her something that Sunday morning 58 years ago. I’m not surprised. Mom and God talk all the time.
Happy Mother’s Day, mom! I love you!