Sunday, May 13, 2007

Love and Sacrifice

How can I take one day and attempt to show my mom how much I love her? I can't. It's like Valentines Day...if you have to have a special day to remind you to appreciate your lover, then you don't really appreciate your lover.

I'm one of the lucky ones...I truly love and cherish my mom. She's the first person I want to call when I have good (or bad) news. I trust her judgement and value her opinion. If you had asked me 20 years ago if I would ever feel that way, I would have answered with a resounding "no!" We had a tumultuous relationship when I was a child and adolescent and I hope that when my daughter starts to behave the way I did, that I will respond with half the restraint that Mama did!

I have so many memories of Mama that it's hard to decide which ones to include here. There are so many that are an integral part of who I am that it's almost impossible to explain them. They are like pieces of flesh and blood that have knitted together through the years to form the incredibly visceral feeling that I have when I think of my mom. The feel of her cool hand on my forehead when I was sick, the smell of her skin, the distinctive technique of her fingers on the piano, the comforting sound of her voice murmuring in the living room as I drifted off to sleep in my bedroom. Those things don't sound like very important memories in the grand scheme of things, but they are the ones that make my mom, well, mine.

Throughout my life she has always been there even when I pushed her away in adolescent ignorance. She always forgave me when I overstepped my bounds and said hurtful, mean things to her out of spite and frustration. I didn't realize it at the time, but she was a rich source of wisdom and knowledge. One of my real regrets as an adult is that I didn't listen to my mom more. I could have saved myself so much pain and grief if I had simply relied on her experience, but I suppose that is a regret that most people have.

I credit my mom's perseverance as the primary reason that I have a relationship with the Lord. She made sure that I was dressed and ready to go to church every week. She answered my questions about faith and God. She was an unwavering example of what a Christian should be in all areas of life. God uses many means to draw His elect to Himself, and in my case it was the love and joy that I saw in my own mother's witness.

When I was diagnosed with cancer, I spent two weeks in the hospital recovering from surgery. Mama refused to leave my side until Aunt Gail (the next best thing to Mama!) came to pry her away from me and give her some much needed rest and relaxation. At the time, I didn't really think about what a sacrifice it was for Mama to stay with me like that. Now that I am grown-up with a life and family of my own, I see what a gift that was to put her life on hold to focus on my well-being and health. If there is anyone that you want near you when you have just had surgery, it is my mom. She has this uncanny knack for knowing what you want before you ask for it.

When I found out I was pregnant with Nathan, I had no idea how much his birth would change my relationship with her. I remember laying there in the hospital holding him one night after everyone had gone home and thinking that I had never loved someone this deeply. That's when it occurred to me that Mama felt that way about me. She loved me so deeply that she would sacrifice her very life for me. This intimate knowledge about the nature of motherhood made me love her even more than I thought possible.

So, even though I can't be with my mom today my love still stretches across the miles to her and I know that she is thinking of me too. Thank you for giving me life and for shaping me into the person I am today. I love you, Mama.

She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
“ Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.

Proverbs 31:26-31

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