And here is my mom with her sisters in the early 1950's. In this photo, my mom is on the far right - the tallest sister! Even though she was the youngest! I am so glad that I have these photo "snapshots" of my mom with her sisters.
I learned so many amazing things from my mom that is is hard to even know where to start. She had such a quiet kindness about her. She cared about each person and wanted to please everyone. She catered to my dad for most of the years of their marriage. And I always felt that she never really thought about what she liked or wanted. And that was such a selfless way to live. In the last years of her life, after much prodding and encouragement from her children, she finally did a few things that she always wanted to do and "treated" herself more than she ever had. Some of these things were big things (like trips to visit her sisters - one in Washington, one in California, and one in Florida) and some were just little things (Dairy Queen Blizzards whenever she wanted and a dish of candy that always sat on the table near her chair). Mom was the kind of grandma that knew each grandchild and exactly what they liked. And she even knew exactly what kind of cookies to have in the kitchen when the great grandchildren visited. If you ask Lia and Ellie, they can pick out the exact cookies that she always had (Vienna Fingers, in case you are wondering). She always remembered that I loved Windmill Cookies (I really don't know what these are called but they look like windmills and have almonds) and they were always in the kitchen when I arrived! She made "favorites" for each of us for birthdays or just during a shared dinner. She really embodied the word "Mother"!
In 1990 I had made some really big changes in my life. I had experienced a very real Spiritual "awakening" in 1988 and a couple of years later, I changed churches. The new church I was drawn to was not a "traditional" Lutheran church. In fact, it was about as non-traditional as you could get. One of the biggest concerns I had about this change, was what my mom would think about this and how she would react to the church when she visited me. Because, let's face it, she was pretty traditional! But, here's the thing, she listened to me, she asked questions and then she prayed about it! She was totally open to this new thing. And she was 75 years old! That summer, in 1990, I dragged her with me to a large conference that was held very near to where she lived. This was way out of her comfort zone and she loved it! In fact we went to that same conference, year and year until it was just to difficult for her to manage the big crowds. I will never forget how surprised she was at one event when they called for people over 80 to stand and she was standing with many people. Then they called for those over 90 to stay standing and there were still more than you would expect. She told me that she loved how on fire for Jesus all of these people were. The next time she came to my house, she was excited to visit that new church of mine. And she loved my church, also. After several years of visits, she felt at home and she knew everyone! She loved that Gwen and Doug were so involved and she loved seeing rows of young people filling the church. It was never a problem for her that it was different. As far as she was concerned, if Jesus was the center of it all, it was just fine. This openness made these last years with my mom so wonderful. I saw such growth and change in her as I watched her draw closer to Jesus. What a gift it is to know that mom is celebrating right now with Jesus! I am sure that there is one very amazing party going on right now.
Yes, she was a special, special mom. I miss her everyday and in so many ways. But I know that much of what is important to me, was sown into me by my mom. I am so grateful for her prayers and her wisdom and her love. This has been a good day of remembering! I encourage you to look at your mother (and those "other" mothers that fill that role) and see all that they do and more than that, look for Jesus in them. Often the selfless acts of moms are a reflection of Jesus living in them.
Jesus, thank you for my mom and all of the wonderful years that she blessed so many people. Holy Spirit, give us all wisdom to see you in those around us. Help us appreciate our families and give us eyes to see ways to bless others. Thank you for birthdays and anniversaries that help us keep our focus on what is really important. Amen