My Mama is not to be trifled with.
She and Dad left suburban life broke, but determined to give their kids what they never had. Owning land, breeding animals, and growing fields in wide open spaces was the backdrop for a family that sticks together.
Before my sister and I arrived Mama birthed two boys, breech. At 4 and 6 she set them along the ditch with toy trucks so she could plow while Dad tended a stampede of pigs. She fed us, washed us—loved us the best she knew how.
The life we’re not intended to live forever.
At 83 I’m in the ER next to her beeping heart rate and IV. Mowing 5 acres of lush lawn has become one of her last outdoor pleasures, but an old crab tree got the best of her. The blade skimmed and the branch fell. Her long legs have fresh wounds and her tired ribs hit the steering.
The nurse is here to wheel her away for her CT scan. “You’re 83? What are you doing mowing grass? He says while unhooking a blinking machine.
“I like mowing the grass!” She fires back. (This poor soul had no idea who he was questioning.)
Waiting in the visitors chair, I think fondly on how my Mama struggled to create something better for us than she had for herself. While x-rays can add up internal injuries, they could never recount the core of what she really is. Picturing her precious life of unmet needs, unreliable dreams, and acute anxieties all whittling away at the life we’re not intended to live forever.
By despising what we are, we sacrifice what we need.
A Christmas ago Mom and I went shopping. Her and Dad had recently suffered some falls. Some nights the apprehension in making it up the stairs turned the living room into a cozy bedroom. It was time we traded their worn-down red sofas for something roomy and supportive.
Mom uses a cane traveling from one showroom to another. Hip surgery fixed the hip but left her equilibrium off balance. Afterward we stop for an early lunch. Taking a booth, Mom’s aging form appears to be shrinking into the leather surrounding her. Private moments like these bring up her longest running memory of having spent every day after school at Bernice’s house. Today she adds how that began the first day she could walk to school on her own. She admits like we’re two girls out on the town airing our overdue need for a sympathetic ear, “I was only there to have long talks with Bernice’s mother. I even volunteered my Saturdays to do her ironing just so we could visit. She listened to me like there was nothing else she’d rather do. She gave me a bible and talked to me about Jesus. I didn’t have any of that with my mom or dad.” Allowing herself to continue, she says, “I remember climbing up on Mother’s lap once for a hug. You know, when you just feel like being held, (she squeezes in her own drooping shoulders…and lets them fall) but all she could say was, ‘You picked the worst time for this.’”
Cupping the deep wrinkles of her hands, our veins becoming more and more visible—vessels that once flowed as one. These trembling hands that carried more than her homeless heart could ever hold. “You are so wonderful, Mom. I am so glad you are my mom.” And we get to see our faraway feelings right up close.
Buckling Mama up in the car I ask if she can say the hardest part of growing up in her home. Surrendered eyes look over the café we just left like she’s reasoned with this a hundred times. “My mom was always cleaning. A clean house was important to her. She didn’t want us having friends over. They would just mess things up. And Dad had to work—he was tired. Affection was not something they thought of.” There—right there—is how we shut ourselves in. Where the bigger mess of us surely begins. Little ones with no words but the ones inside our head. We pull back, cover up, and self-soothe instead. By despising what we are, we sacrifice what we need—a living, breathing, hand-holding miracle of God.
The Father will never tell you your timing is bad.
Can we stop in this very spot and imagine how the Father is the one Expert in Mothering us? Imagine yourself tossing and turning in bed. His presence at your side touching your head— humming you back to sleep. How much more will the Father, who molded the Mother, give what is good—what is fundamental—to His own crying in the dark?
Can the Voice who thunders not sing you to sleep? Is the Hand that laid the foundation of the earth not strong enough to hold you close and stroke your hair? The Lord, who raises the dead, can not rise to your side every needy hour?
The One who has seen the worst of you has only the best for you.
You are not without the Arms of a Mother—not by a long shot! Whatever your need, no matter the hour, you are never in want for a Mother! Call for the Father who will never tell you your timing is bad.
Jesus is the One given pain-killer for the hate we hold for ourselves inside.
Morphine goes into Mama’s vein and “I love you” comes out of her mouth. For the first time she says it without my saying it first. Another nurse appears closing the curtain and turning out the lights. My head takes a rest against the wall.
It’s noon and I’ve hardly eaten. I’ll get fruit before she wakes.
If we can feed our bodies fresh bananas, can’t we satisfy our hungry hearts? Food is for the body, and Love is here to consume. Jesus is the one-given pain-killer for the hate we hold inside for ourselves.
You take brave steps toward loving others when you count yourself worth His love.
The Father will never tell you your timing is bad.
this hit me!
OH, Friend…How He loves us. I’m so glad you’re here with me. (holding your hand.)
As always so beautiful honey. We all look back at things that we could’ve done different but our children know how much we love them. How awesome now with grandchildren we get to do better than what we missed out with our own children. You’re right a clean house now it’s the last thing on my mind. Our Heavenly Father always always there for us no matter what. Can’t even imagine my life without him.🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏
Yes, Joni! We have been given grace to begin again with our grown ones, and start a-fresh with our grand ones!
His mercies: NEW EVERY DAY!
Thank you for stopping by and blessing my day, Friend!👩🏻🤝👩🏼
Beautiful, Jo, so glad you can spend precious and important time with your mom. Thanks for letting God’s love flow into this blog. It’s palpable and refreshing.
Cheri! What a blessing to hear from you! Yes, so blessed. My Mama is still here to hug and hold.
God’s affections never cease.
Thank you for reading and taking time to leave a little love.
HUGS to you and Pat!💗
This hit a place deep inside of me! Thank you Jo Ann!
That is GREAT the hear, Chris! His Spirit speaks and we believe.
I’m so blessed by your LOVE.💜
Thank you for being here! It makes my heart glad.
So love being hummed back asleep when wrestling I the middle of the night.
Yes! So gentle is the Father!
Thanks, David—YOU are a f ather and grandfather of God’s affection and love.💗
Being a mother myself of 3 adult children, and as of late I have questioned if I did a good enough job raising them. What you wrote pulled at my heartstrings with what your mother remembers of her parents, ‘ “My mom was always cleaning. A clean house was important to her. She didn’t want us having friends over. They would just mess things up. And Dad had to work—he was tired. Affection was not something they thought of.” ‘ This has made me question what my children remember of me as they were growing up. I now will have to ask them. I will also have to ask for forgiveness for my shortcomings. Thank you for the reminder “You take brave steps toward loving others when you count yourself worth His love.”
Beautifully written the gentle nurturing side of the Father. I loved your questions:
“Can the Voice who thunders not sing you to sleep? Is the Hand that laid the foundation of the earth not strong enough to hold you close and stroke your hair? The Lord, who raises the dead, can not rise to your side every needy hour?
I too had to return to my grown girls. I needed forgiveness for my obsession with a spotless house while my 3 little girls required SO much more!
I am learning to leave the mess and hug the kids and grandkids. All thanks be to the Father!
I’m so honored these words spoke to you. Thanks so much for stopping and sharing your thoughts. 👩🏻🤝👩🏼
Beautifully written. Resting in Christ’s love gives us a reason and a desire to love others. It’s all because of him.
YES IT IS.
All thanks be to God for His grace, His comfort, His affection for us.
Most grateful for your stopping long enough for a good word, Sandra.
Looking back I recognize the blessings of the times. Thanks
For helping to relive those blessings.
SO MANY BLESSINGS! 🙏🏻🙏🏻
And the GREATEST Glory is yet to come!
Love you, Daddy😘