It seems like life comes in waves. We have periods of time that are totally uneventful, and during those seasons of life many times we can think, why does life have to be so dull? I get up in the morning and take the dog out, make coffee for my husband, make breakfast for my husband and kids, get everyone ready to do their school work, throw in a load of wash, decide what I am having for supper… You get the point. Then there are times when it seems like everything is going at warp speed and things just keep changing from moment to moment. As I write this I am on a plane to go see my dear and aging mother who is in the hospital and not doing well. I am in a new stage, one where I am no longer depending on her, but she on me. And it came suddenly, like a storm that moves over the sea.
Even as I write this, tears fill my eyes. She is no longer the woman I knew, the woman who so many times was selfless. Always thinking of my father and me, her only child. Her mind is no longer with us the way it was. There are times when she comes back, but they seem fewer and fewer each day. It wasn’t until I raised my own children that I realized the sacrifices she made for me. I can remember her at her sewing machine, sewing into the night as Christmas neared. Now I know she was sewing a wardrobe of doll clothes. Everything a little girl could want. Or when there was a bake sale at my school, she would stay up into the wee hours of the night making sure that I had the “perfect” cookies to take. Our home was always open to my friends, and there was always food to share. I am not sure why this is coming to mind, but my friends would always say she made the best fried fish and conch fritters. I grew up in Miami, Florida, and we fished as a family all the time. This was common fare prepared uncommonly.
We always went to church from the time I was born, but I remember when my parents had a renewal of their faith through Faith Alive, a lay evangelistic movement. My mom loved Jesus. And she shared His love with others by constantly giving to others. Whether it was cooking a meal for someone who was sick or taking an elderly person to a doctor’s appointment, she showed her love for Christ in so many ways.
When my boys were born they became the center of her life. Even now, with her failing memory she says, “Jameson Matthew, Brandon Mark, Travis Luke, Parker John, right?”—as if to confirm that she still has recalled their names correctly. She fights to hang on to memories of past and more engaged times. When the boys were young, we lived in Orlando, about a four hour drive from my parents. They came to see us regularly and were a large part of the boys’ lives. My mom loved to cook, so even though I had boys she cooked with them. One of my sons, Travis, decided that he should write a cookbook. He was about seven at the time. So he wrote down recipes his grandma taught him. The one I remember getting from her was for a salad dressing that he loved. He called it Grandma’s Blue, and to this day I pull out the cookbook he wrote in with his imperfect handwriting when I want to make the dressing.
She was always there for me and for our family. When I was pregnant with our third son, I came down with the chickenpox. Our two older boys had had the chickenpox and were finally getting better when we got a call that Marlin’s father was critically ill and would probably not make it. We loaded up the boys, headed to the airport, and traveled to Lancaster, Pa., from Orlando to be with his dad. The morning after we arrived, I woke up with the chickenpox, and I was terrified. I was pregnant and feared for my unborn child. What would be even worse, though, was Marlin came down with them that night. We spent the day saying goodbye to his father and then headed home to get me to my doctor. Guess who was waiting at the airport when we arrived? You got it, my mom. She stayed with us the next two weeks, tirelessly taking care of our two young boys and caring for Marlin and me. Now that I am her age, I see what a sacrifice this was.
Well, thanks for letting me talk about my mom. As you can tell, I love her dearly. She is not perfect, but she has loved me and mine and has molded me into the woman I am today. I see things through the lens she gave me, and fortunately I know who her Savior is. So, besides being nostalgic, why did I think I should tell you this?
Maybe you are getting up today, wishing that life could be a little more exciting. Maybe you are wishing that you could just take that vacation, or move into a new house or maybe you’re praying that your husband will get a new job. Maybe your family is together, just enjoying one another in a sort of boring peace and looking forward to this next school year when the boring routine of school days start again and everyone just hangs out at the house and does their work. You see, if you are together and things are just normal, then this is good. Life is sweet. Enjoy those around you and make sure you tell those that you love most how much they mean to you, because you might not get another chance.
We learned this last Friday when we got the call that Marlin’s aging mother passed away. It was not unexpected. She was 93, and the last two weeks had given us clear signs that her end on this earth was imminent. Yet, it is now permanent. Of course, she was ready. Her faith was strong, her Savior sure. We will miss her.
Yet this was a clear teaching to enjoy every moment we have with our parents (and our children). Those moments will one day end. Our God is faithful. He is good, and He knows what we need even when we don’t know what will happen in the next hour.
By Laurie Detweiler