A Journal of Joy: Things that make my heart smile…..
Memories of my mother always fill me with joy. She’s been gone for 48 years, but I can still see her face and feel her guiding hand in my life. I think sharing stories about loved ones who have passed away brings them honor. Here are some more things I remember about my mama.
I remember her fearlessness: When I was 4 or 5 we lived in a brownstone “rooms for rent” building in St. Louis. The woman who lived upstairs had a young boy about my age. She would stay out until all hours, leaving her child alone, unattended. Once, she left him there ill. In those days, there were no agencies to call in such situations and the police couldn’t do anything because it wasn’t illegal. Mom went upstairs and looked after him. She also let others know she’d like to give this gal a piece of her mind, among other things. The next day, my dad, Mom, and I were headed out. I’m not sure where we were going, but we were all dressed up. I know this because Mom had a hat on. Hats were very fashionable in those days.
We were standing in the hallway when Miss Out All Night came shimmying down the stairs. “I hear you’re looking for me,” she said.
Mom said, “Well, yes I am.”
It was obvious the lady was looking for a fight. Mom tried to talk her out of it but she wouldn’t listen, so Mom took off her hat, handed it and her purse to Dad to hold while she proceeded to have a little hand-to-hand combat. I could tell the woman was still conscious as she lay there on the floor. Mom dusted herself off, straighten her hair slightly, put her hat back on, took her purse from Dad, and off we went for the day. When we returned, the lady and her son had moved.
I remember her humor: Mom was a cross between Erma Bombeck and Dave Barry, witty and funny. Once at K-Mart, Mom accidentally bumped her shopping cart into another woman’s. Mom jokingly said, “Sorry, you almost need a driver’s license to operate one of these things.” The woman was indignant as she replied, “Well, I don’t!” Then the woman turned her cart quickly around and ran into a post. Mom just passed her up, smiled, and replied, “See what I mean!”
I remember her encouragement: “You can do it,” she’d say. “You can be whatever you want to be. You can do whatever you want to do.” It may not seem like a big thing now, but Mom always wanted a high school diploma. I remember with pride when she got her GED. She was in her mid-30s.
I remember when she came to Christ: Mom wasn’t quite as feisty after she met the Lord. She never lost her wit, wisdom, or humor, but she gained peace and deeper insight. When she looked at a flower, she saw the Creator. When she looked at snow, she saw a miracle. When she lived life, she saw purpose.
I remember her death: I was in my early 20s when Mama died. She went to the doctor for what she thought was a kidney infection; she found out she had uterine cancer. Two weeks later she was gone. She was 48. It happened so fast and now that I’m older, I realize how young she was.
Pope Paul VI said, “Every mother is like Moses. She does not enter the Promised Land. She prepares a world she will not see.” These words ring true in my mother’s case. There is much of her family’s life she did not live to see.
And because her death came quickly, there is much I didn’t get to tell her. So, “Mom, if you’re listening, I want you to know – I remember you! Thanks for giving me so many wonderful things to remember.”
Lord, You give and You take away. Thank You for giving me my mom. I’ve always been a little sad that she never got to see her amazing grandchildren, but I think a little of her lives on in them. Sharing stories with them about her leaves a legacy. What a wise, wonderful, and colorful person she was! All the praise and glory for that goes to You!