The appearance of the large manila envelope in my mailbox came as if on cue – perfectly timed to arrive just before Mother’s Day. It was full of old photos of our family. Grandparents, parents, siblings, children and grandchildren are represented in various photos. This becomes another trip down memory lane – one I’m not so sure I want to take so close to Mother’s Day, but I am already on memories’ road headed back in time as I look at the pictures my sister has sent. How young we all were! Had our parents ever been that young? (I confess -when we were young, they seemed old – but of course, in retrospect, they were young, especially when viewed from eyes now older than they were in some of the pictures – age is relative and perspective is everything, isn’t it?)
So my journey begins with the old photos and ends with me missing Mom on Mother’s Day. (not that I don’t miss her every other day of the year also) Memories can be good company, especially when they are good memories and I have plenty of those. Still, as we have all learned during this past year, there really is no substitute for the real thing or in this case, the real person, in person. Of course, there does come a time when the in-person experience with the real person is no longer possible. No plane, train or automobile can cross the chasm death creates between us and those we love.
I look at a picture of my first Mother’s Day as a new mom with my Mom and Grandma and my newborn daughter, four generations of women together for a time, until time separated us by her passing. I think back to in-person Mother’s Days of the past and wish for just one more to celebrate with Mom and Grandma. I can still see, with memory’s eyes, Grandma’s garden with the orange poppies blooming and Mom’s backyard with the iris and the peonies coming into full bloom as if for no other reason than to celebrate them on Mother’s Day.
Those flowers continue to come up year after year at the appointed time. And I continue to celebrate my Mom and my Grandma, year after year, and to give thanks for their presence in my life for the years that I had them with me. They left me quite a legacy, these two ladies, one that I hold in my heart and hope to live up to. These words from Proverbs 31:30-31 are apt on this Mother’s Day,
“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.”
Although my Mom and my Grandma were both charming and beautiful, they were also both full of those intangible, enduring qualities that outlast the years, becoming stronger as time passes. Each of them lived through tough times and faced challenging circumstances in their lives. But both women persevered through the ups and downs and finished well. Kindness, compassion, empathy, perseverance, steadfastness, courage and faith are the legacy they leave me. But these things are not an inheritance. Attributes such as courage and faith are not passed down, they are no one’s to give away. They are acquired in the process of living – of fighting the good fight, of striving to live an honorable life. They are forged in the life long labor of pursuing God.
They finished well, my Mom and my Grandma. That is the gift of their legacy. Their enduring faith, which grew steadily stronger until the end, when it was at its strongest. That is finishing well. This is what I remember and celebrate this Mother’s Day and everyday.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)
Thank You, Lord, for the gifts of my Mom and my Grandma,
sincerely, Grace Day