I’m missing mom again today, although as I mentioned in a recent post, its been five years that I’ve had to get along without her. I ate at one of her favorite places yesterday and that brought back a lifetime of memories, which explains my current reflective state of mind. My dear friend’s mom went on to heaven as well in the last few years. I was at the celebration of this special woman’s life and knew then, although we had not met, that she and my mom would have been fast friends had they not lived in different cities but had the opportunity to know each other as my friend and I do.
They shared the same values of faith, family and friends first, self last. They lived their lives based on these values leaving a legacy of love in their wake for us to follow. And I am grateful for that legacy as I find myself living in a “me first” world that would deceive me into agreeing that this is the path to fulfillment, but for their example to remind me otherwise. I refer to them as “Sunday School ladies” when my friend and I reminisce about our moms. But I don’t mean it in the way SNL portrays someone they give that label to.
No, these were real women who lived their lives with courage and quiet strength every day. They lived out their lives in the context of community, a community they created in their church and in their neighborhood by their steadfast commitment to serving not only their families and friends but those in need and those outside the confines of their immediate circle. In Sunday School they studied God’s word together, learning lessons they would need to enable them to live the extraordinary lives they led. In the context of worship and prayer they formed the friendships that would sustain them through the inescapable challenges that come to each of us, friendships that would last a lifetime.
Perhaps because neither of our moms moved around during their lives, but lived in one place for the entirety of their lives, their roots were able to grow down deep, resulting in deep friendships and a deeper, more lasting impact on the communities where they lived and served. I love that my mom was still doing “Meals on Wheels”, ( a service she had been instrumental in bringing to her community) at a time when she herself could have benefited from the service.
Which reminds me of another shared characteristic, these women didn’t give up. They were not quitters. They were steadfast, in it for the long haul no matter how hard things got. Unlike today, where at the first sign of trouble or difficulty, so many of us bail out. They did not disengage, they kept on showing up. That’s called being faithful and it comes from having faith. Yes, the “Sunday School ladies” I knew were tough, contrary to popular opinion. And they were accepting and inclusive, not judgmental as the stereotype would have us believe. They were the ones bringing meals, visiting the sick, collecting clothes for those who needed them; reaching out to others in all kinds of tangible ways that truly made a difference in the lives of those fortunate enough to know them.
Our moms persevered through life’s losses, heartaches, disappointments, difficult days and turbulent times providing stability for our families in an often chaotic and ever changing world. They met hate with love and intolerance with acceptance. Without using words, our moms taught us how to live. Words weren’t necessary when they were here with us, their actions spoke clearly and eloquently and the “fruit” of their lives continues to reveal itself to me as I reflect on Mom’s legacy to me. It’s a legacy of courage and compassion, of persistence and patience, of service, sacrifice and selflessness, and finally of family and of faith.
In these days of division and demeaning discourse, which the media keeps ever before us, lest we actually be left alone to experience our own reality and lead our own lives, I take hope from the stories of our moms and the lives they led. One was a beautiful black woman, the other a winsome white woman. Both left us, their fortunate daughters, a legacy of love that lasts beyond their years and will last beyond our years as well. With God’s grace, my friend and I will persevere and pass their legacies on to our own daughters and so our moms’ legacies of love will live on in them.
“She is clothed with strength and dignity; . . . Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’ Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” (Proverbs 31:25-31)
miss you mom, sincerely, Grace Day