Saturday, May 13, 2006

Happy Mother's Day

I lost my mother to breast cancer in 2001; she was 61. My son was only 18 months old, so he remembers her from pictures and stories we tell him. They were good buddies. Some of the last pictures we have of my mom are her in her recliner holding my baby and feeding him fruit snacks. She loved children, not just mine, but all children. Her entire life was devoted to her husband, her children, and the care of other children. Although her proper name was Nancy, the children at the daycare where she worked dubbed her "Nanny," and it stuck. Mother loved caring for people of any age.

In fact, my mother was accepted to a nursing school in Memphis, but ended up marrying my dad right out of high school. Gossipers thought she had gotten in trouble, but Mama just was so in love with Daddy and ready to start a family that she chose that dream over nursing. In the end she ended up nursing my dad for nearly six years. He died at 51 with a rare disease that caused deterioration of his brain resulting in symptoms much like Alzheimers. She never left his side.

After Daddy died, his disability benefits ended, and my mom went back to work. She was a homemaker for most of her married life. I was twelve years old when she started work outside the home to supplement Dad's income. She did substitute teaching, was a cafeteria aid, worked in a local factory, and sat with the sick and elderly. After daddy got sick, she stayed home and cared for him, choosing to do so after he was placed in a mental health institute for two weeks. These institutions have their place in society, but mom would have none of it. She cared for her childhood sweetheart the rest of his days. After his death she gained employment as a caregiver in a nearby daycare. She and my younger sister cared for the infants. It was a ministry that she carried out faithfully...even after her first bout with cancer in 1997. She cared for many babies and children in the four years after her first recovery. But the cancer returned in May of 2001. By August we had lost this precious soul. Her work on earth finished.

Mom had this to say about Daddy: “When I met Carl he was about 8 years old and I was about 10 years old. Lois and Harold started to church then. When I was about 12, he was 10, he started talking to me and bringing me gum to church. I finally told him I was just too old for him, but he didn’t give up easily. He began courting me. He was 15. I was 17. I began dating him and he took my heart and we never looked back. We married May 22, 1959. He was 17 and I was 19 on May 23rd. I loved him dearly. (The day Mom died, we found her journal and Bible and used her notes to draft her euology. ) When I was young I just wanted to do anything to get out of the cotton patch. When I was in high school I wanted to be a nurse. I applied to the nursing program at Baptist Hospital in Memphis. I received a letter to come and enroll. By this time Carl and I were getting serious. So I just decided not to go. When I married I just wanted to be a good wife and mother. I stayed home with you girls. I was saved when I was 10 and rededicated at 13. I wanted to be a good Christian wife and mother. I believe I have been able to fulfill all three of these to some pleasing degree."

On April 22, 1997 this was written in her journal and phrases underlined in her devotional.
“I know now that I have breast cancer—a sad day for me and my loved ones. But look at my day’s devotion. Praise the Lord!

“You shall not be afraid because of the terror by night. Psalm 91:5. What is this terror? It may be the cry of fire, or the noise of thieves, or fancied appearances, or the shriek of sudden sickness or death. We live in the world of death and sorrow. We may therefore look for the ills as well in the night watches as beneath the glare of the broiling sun. Nor should this alarm us for be the terror what it may, the promise is that the believer shall not be afraid. Why should he be? God our Father is here and he will be here all through the lonely hours. He is an Almighty watcher, a sleepless guardian, a faithful friend, nothing can happen without his direction, for even hell itself is under His control. Darkness is not dark to him. He has promised a wall of fire around his people and who can break through such a barrier. It may be night in the soul. But there need be no terror, for the God of love changes not. Children of light may walk in darkness, but they are not therefore cast away. No, they are now enabled to prove their adoption by trusting in their heavenly Father.” ( I do not have the author's name that penned this devotional. In fact, I do not even have the devotional. I give them all credit for these beautiful words. If any of you can find the author, I'd be glad to supply their name.)

In another entry she says: "I loved to go to church; I enjoyed the Bible stories we had in Sunday School. The ones that made an impression on me were the Three Hebrew Children in the Fiery Furnace; Daniel in the Lion’s Den, and David and the Giant. I was not baptized until I was thirteen years old. I had rededicated my life to the Lord. The whole family had gotten saved. There was a very big group of all ages who were baptized that same Sunday at Henderson Lake near Gadsden."

All through my mom's cancer, she would repeatedly say she had the peace that passed understanding. She placed her life in His hands and trusted in His ability to keep watch over her. She was not afraid. The Lord told her her experience would be unique. And it was. The doctors scratched their heads, perplexed at her lack of pain. Out of the month she was home from the hospital, there were only three days that she took pain medicine. She witnessed to everyone she came in contact with about the goodness of God. Over and over she repeated how God had blessed her and given her peace. She was not worried. Or fretful. She came through the trial of fire just like the Hebrew children in her favorite story. He was with her there, and He is with her now on the other side.

Mama's goal in life was to be a good wife and mother and to serve God with all her heart. I believe she ran her race like the Olympian champion she was. She ran with the faith and strength her Lord provided. She gave every ounce of her being to the love and care of others. I can only hope to become the kind of mother she was to me. What a legacy she left.
Well done, Mama. Well done.


Morning Glory said...

What a beautiful tribute! Thank you for sharing this piece of your heart.

Mike Goodwin said...

You had a strong, faithful, loving mother. That was a wonderful piece of writing, and I'm sure your Mom is up There smiling down upon you right now. :-)

Praying for your Prodigal said...

What a beautiful tribute to your beautiful mom. What a legacy is right! Isn't it scarey sometimes to think that our children are watching us--that we are leaving a legacy as well....and yet, it really is simple. We just love them, love their Daddies, love God...and live daily in His grace...and the legacy has already been written!

What a beautiful testimony your mother's still reflecting!

Happy Mother's Day to you!


Lisa said...

**wipes tears from eyes**
What a wonderful tribute to your mother. I feel like I know her. Thank you for sharing her life with me.

Happy Mother's Day, Cindy!

Magnolia said...

She sounds like she was a joy to be around. How touching.

Happy Mother's Day and hugs to you!

Lei said...

Sounds like one truly amazing woman! I lost my own mother just two years ago...

Thanks for stopping by!

Zoe said...

Wow, what a nice tribute to your mother. I am sorry to hear that you have lost both of your parents. It sounds like you keep them alive through your writing. I am so impressed.

I think that someone that is as elloquent a writer as you are doesn't need pictures on her blog!

I cannot believe how much weight you lost when you were pregnant. I am sooooo sorry!! I throw up a lot but somehow always manage to pack on the pounds! I bet your litte (boy ? ) was worth it though! :)