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Thursday, June 28, 2018

I Called Her Mom

copyright Voice From The End of Town
My mother holding our first child.
On November 17, 2003, my mother went home to be with the Lord.  This November it will be 15 years since she died.  I started this post two years ago but could never find the right words until today.
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In the church building where her funeral was held I was asked if she had been an important woman in the community or the city because her funeral was attended by ~300 people.  My mother wasn't a councilwoman or mayor or anything that society would have thought important.  She was just….my mother.  

She began to take me to church when I was three months old because she made a promise to God although she did not become a Christian until 5 years later.  She eventually did just about every job you could do in the church.  The only thing she didn't do was pastor the church, but I suspect she could have done that too.

            Everyone else that knew her knew her as a soft-spoken sweet woman but that’s not the woman I knew.  Her standards for me were high, too high as far as I was concerned.  The list of things that I could not do were higher, and the correction never seemed to end.  

Sit up.  Put your knees together. Stop slouching. Don’t rock! Don’t bite your nails!

These were just the normal kids stuff.  But the correction went beyond that.  Bad grades were unacceptable, and F’s were terminal, so I got the belt.  Back talking was not even remotely going to be allowed but it seemed that anything beyond ‘yes ma’am’, ‘no ma’am’ would get me popped too.  I’d be lying to say that I didn’t know the back of my mother’s hand VERY well.  I can still hear her voice saying sternly, “don’t look at me in that tone of voice!”  I truly believed that I was adopted.  I could see that my parents loved my brothers but while my father lived in the home, he was non-existent, and my mother was a tyrant!  As far as I was concerned, I had to be adopted, they wouldn't treat their own child this way. My school years were littered with more evidence as my brothers learned to drive, and get jobs while mine consisted of school work and housework.

             When I started dating my husband to be in my senior year, it wasn’t but two weeks later that he ask me to marry him.  I knew he was the one and said YES! (how I knew is a story for another time.)  A few weeks later when my parents met him they fell in love and my mother told me later that night..."if he asks you to marry him, say yes."  He was eleven years my senior so I knew better than to tell either one of them he had already asked and I had already said yes.  

            When they did find out I heard the exact opposite of everything they had said especially from my mother.  We married two weeks shy of a year from when we met and all the way up to the moment I left my room for the last time headed to the church, my mother tried to talk me out of getting married.  She gave me one last chance to back out with the threat that if I did go through with getting married, she would throw my bed out.  I could not come home.  

Well… bed went out the next day.

            It was hard for her and my father to make the transition from parent of a child to parent of a married adult and I think it was harder for them because I was the only girl.  Things finally came to a head one night when my husband had to inform my parents that while I “had been their child” I was now “his wife” and they needed to treat me appropriately.  While this may ruffle some feathers, I think it was necessary and forced my parents to adjust.  

            My mother made the adjustment and she became a friend.  I grew up both loving and hating her and as an adult, for the first fifteen years of my marriage, I carried that over.  She drove me nuts when she wasn’t being the only person who I could really talk to about anything.  It took us moving away for the second time out of state before our relationship solidified into a better one.

            I didn’t feel loved growing up.  I felt like I could never be or do enough.  She made some bad mistakes with me and said some hurtful things.  She made mistakes that she would not apologize for. But as an adult I had to realize she was answering my calls.  She was listening to me and talking to me not at me.  She prayed for me.  She believed in me and what God was doing in me.  

She wasn’t perfect, she made mistakes that hurt....But in spite of everything 

and more than anything... I know she tried her very best to keep a promise to God 

concerning me and my future while she was here even when it hurt.

Looking back, I think I can now see why I was asked if she was important.   

The things she taught me are still in me today.  If it’s worth doing, do it right the first time.  Have faith and confidence in yourself.  Carry yourself as a woman of God.  Make sure of your convictions, they lead to decisions that can change the trajectory of your future.  Know your own self-worth and abilities.  Stick to your principles and be ready to defend them.  And when you make promises, keep them no matter what.

            Did she plan on teaching me those specific things?  No.  I don’t think so.  I think my mother was winging it the best she could, but she gave me a foundation in Christ that I would not have had without her.  With this foundation God could reveal to me how my mother, even in all her mistakes and imperfections, molded me into the woman I am today.

            I suspect that mild-mannered soft-spoken woman that everyone else knew taught them the same things.  Those that came to her funeral spoke of her in glowing terms.  She was their light, their laughter, the bright spot in their day.  She encouraged them, always made them smile.  She helped them so much before the cancer forced her to stop working.  It didn't matter whether it was a boss from a job she hadn't had for twenty years, a child she taught at church, a niece or nephew she told about Jesus or a fellow employee she just met.  They all came because she had touched their life far beyond what she would have believed.

They called her friend.....I called her mom.

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