Friday, May 07, 2004
Happy Mother's Day
I wrote this tribute to my mother last year:
The time: the early 60's. The place: Hobbs, New Mexico. The young woman is getting out the car, all dressed up to play the piano for a wedding, or a funeral, or some such occasion. I can still see her in my memory: radiantly lovely, wearing a hat and red lipstick.
She is my mother, and although she has always been there in my memory, this is the first clear memory I have of actually looking at her and realizing: This is my mother, and she is beautiful.
Words usually come easily for me...they tumble out of my mind, onto my keyboard with fairly effortless alacrity. But now, as I try to frame the words to paint a portrait of all my mother is to me, I find myself strangely tongue-tied. What words are there to describe someone who is so all-encompassing...so incredibly necessary to my life? Someone who has embodied love, support and nurturing since before I was born, and for all these forty-plus years since?
I'll try to describe her. Nearing seventy years old, she's still beautiful. She has sparkling green eyes; a lovely full,expressive mouth...a dazzling smile. The years have been kind to her, and she is a prime example of how decades of righteous living can influence a woman's face...years free of alcohol ,cigarettes and immoral living. Years dedicated to God's service and unselfish love for her husband and children. She has the sort of radiant, luminous, from-the-inside beauty that defies age.
My mother was not born into the best of situations. Although her parents loved her in their way, she wasn't raised in a Christian home, and she saw and experienced some of the uglier aspects of human nature while still very young.
From these circumstances, while still a young teenager, she became a wife, and a mother to my older sister. It was as if she was born to that role. Even her mother-in-law marveled at how this teen-aged girl immediately became a great mom.
My mother has always liked hot baths...really, really hot baths. There's a story behind that, too. Mother says that when she was a little girl, she realized that she was probably going to hell when she died. No one had told her how she could avoid hell, so she decided she would try to prepare herself for it. She got used to taking baths as hot as she could possibly stand them.
Fortunately, my mother did find out how she could look forward to a home in heaven. As a young mom, she and her mother were invited to a revival meeting at the independent Baptist church in their small west Texas town. Both of them ended up accepting Christ as their Saviour at that meeting, and life would never be the same for either of them.
Somewhere during the same period of time, my father also became a Christian, and as a very young married couple my parents began serving the Lord. The journey eventually took them to Bible college in Missouri, pastorates in four states, and even twice to the mission field.
My mother has so many character traits I admire and wish to emulate, usually with less success than I would like.
She is an unselfish person, with a real servant's heart. She is never happier than when doing things to make the people she loves happy. The words "nurturing" and "giving" characterize the unstinting love she freely gives to her family.
She is a disciplined and industrious person; she eats healthily and in moderation, retaining a girlish figure that would put women half her age to shame, and as my father has often pointed out with a certain pride, she never goes to bed with dirty dishes in the sink.
I've often thought this disciplined side of my mom comes from her Greek heritage. Her father was full-blooded Greek, and his family originated in Sparta, the part of Greece known for people with a history of military toughness, endurance and self-denial. (I sometimes think that gene totally escaped me.) :)
But this is only one side of my mother. She is really fun to be around. She has a quirky sense of humor, a ready laugh and a gorgeous smile. One of my cherished images of my mom is of her singing as she flits around the house, doing chores (I told you she is industrious and always busy).
One of the first words that comes to mind when I think of my mother is ladylike.She is, in some ways, like a Southern belle...decorous and discreet. But if so, she is also like the title of that popular movie of several years back, a "steel magnolia." There is backbone to this Texas belle ,and woe be to the person who wrongs her children! I have never known anyone like my mother to be able to tell a person off--in the most ladylike and genteel way--but leaving no doubt that you have been told off. She is notto be messed with, when it comes to those she loves.
The closest I've ever seen to this is the Dixie Carter character on "Designing Women." I've often chuckled while watching Julia Sugarbaker give someone a dressing-down on that show...I can't help but think of my normally soft-spoken mom. But mind you, she would only do this to someone who truly deserved it.
My mother's walk with the Lord is also something I want to emulate. She is a real prayer warrior. I have so many memories of hearing her pray, and there have been times I have literally seemed to feel her prayers for me when I've been in dangerous or difficult situations. Call me mystical, but there is just something about a mother's prayers!
My mother has endured many trials in her life, and sometimes, I admit, I've questioned why this wonderful woman should be inflicted with so many circumstances that to me seem unfair and unjustified. But these trials have not broken her. Instead, she seems to grow stronger and more lovely with time.
Now, she's going through one of the saddest trials, as my father faces terminal illness. My heart goes out to her, and I feel helpless as I want to be the kind of comfort and support she has always been for me.
I have done such an inadequate job of painting this picture of my mother. I want to convey the beauty, the kindness, the strength, the warmth of this remarkable lady, and I can't seem to find the right words to really do it.
I guess for me, it all comes down to one thing: thanking God for this wonderful mother. My heart really does burst with gratitude. To have a person that you know will always love you, no matter what...that's worth more than my pathetic words could ever express.
My mother's name is Cynthia, and I am honored and privileged to have been given her name. I doubt if I will ever be able to live up to it, but I will never stop trying.
Lots of years have passed since my childish eyes watched that beautiful young woman get out of the car. But those years have only increased her beauty, as well as my love and appreciation for all she means to me.
I love you, Mother! Thank you for everything!
Ready for the weekend...
Wow...I am sorely in need of a morning just to sleep in. Last night was a particularly late night, thanks to the Berean Christian School Junior-Senior Banquet. Since Doug is the junior class sponsor, we attended the event. (This was a major event in Elizabeth's life, and she looked absolutely beautiful!)
This morning when my radio alarm went off, it was raining, thundering and lightning, and every fiber of my being wanted to roll over and go back to sleep. Hopefully I can get caught up on my Z's later on!