As some of you know, last year the Lord escorted my mother out of this world and introduced her to that place He had gone to prepare for her so long ago. Shortly after that, I shared some reflections surrounding that event. As Mother’s Day arrives, I’m especially aware of those whose mother is no longer with them and feel compelled to offer these thoughts again in honor of Mom – and in recognition of them.
Some Moments Seem Frozen in Time ~
It was one of those ‘frozen in time’ moments as I stood at her bedside looking down at Mom’s little frame. Others had stepped out and for a few minutes, there were just the two of us. Her eyes were closed and her breathing was kind of shallow as her exit from this life drew nearer.
She was so small and frail now, so weak, so isolated from the hectic world outside, and as far as that world was concerned, altogether irrelevant. Compared to the vibrant, capable, strong, creative, and energetic woman who brought me into the world so many years ago, and who had fought her way past more obstacles and endured more pain than I could even imagine, the image before me was more than a contrast—it was a blatant antithesis.
A Frustrating Cliché ~
I thought about where her journey had brought her in these recent months, about how long and dark her path had become. I stood there groping for some profound thing to say, some deeply moving insight to grab onto that would be worthy of the implications of this scene. All the most basic and vital realities of life and faith were unfolding before me, and at that moment, I had nothing. The only thought that penetrated the rubble in my mind right then was an irritating, out-of-place cliché … ‘It’s always darkest just before the dawn.’ “Well,” I thought, “It’s certainly dark enough, but I don’t see much of a dawn for her right now.”
Scenes from happier days flooded in. Our family didn’t fit the cultural mold of the Bible Belt in my early years because we weren’t ‘church people’. But not meeting all the local social standards wasn’t surprising because we were, after all, ‘Yankees’—immigrants from up north. Moving to a little tight-knit southern Virginia town from some place as foreign as Ohio brings a stigma with it that isn’t easily erased, so nobody expected us to blend in but so well anyway. The fact that I was actually later born there didn’t help much, either, because I couldn’t escape what they called my ‘northern’ accent. Rolling with the punches was not new to Mom, and she worked hard to help us adapt.
A Life-Changing New Routine ~
Before I reached that age where guys notice girls transitioning from being just another irritant, like mosquitoes and chiggers, to becoming curiously intriguing, Mom developed a new routine. Every morning before getting up she would lie there in the bed listening to a radio evangelist named Oliver B. Greene. He preached passionately about God’s love, telling her every day how she could have eternal life through faith in Christ. One morning, after hearing another of his daily appeals, she knelt beside her bed and gave her heart and life to the One who had given His for her.
Mom was different after that. She didn’t suddenly become perfect, as all of us who had intimate contact with her can attest, and she didn’t become ‘weirdly religious’, but the faith she extended to Jesus Christ that day remained an indelible part of who she was from that time on.
Mom had never had much money and even now after all these years of hard work, she would not have been able to buy much even if she had the strength. Most of her life had been a struggle just to get by. Her family had shared the financial hardships that were commonplace during the aftermath of the ‘great depression’ when survival meant learning how to scrimp and cut corners, and when that failed, it meant learning how to do without. What a lesson in values she was to me that day—poor, but possessing something that the combined currencies of the world would not be able to buy.
The frail little person lying there struggling to breathe had lost personal control over almost everything. Dementia had taken away her capacity to make any significant decision. Age and disease had ravaged her physically and made her totally dependent for even the most basic care. The only thing left that Mom had absolute, unchallenged, and unassailable ownership of was the promise she received from the lips of her risen Savior as she knelt beside another bed so many decades earlier. Age and disease might have taken control of her mind and body, but it couldn’t take away that promise. Legal documents might have stripped her of the right to make important decisions, but no court could nullify that promise. Every value system that the world had to offer was failing her right now, but their collapse couldn’t touch that promise.
Not Alone ~
As I looked down through the tears and frustration from having no way to help and nothing to offer her, I realized that we weren’t alone. The One who had come to meet her in that other bedroom years ago was here looking down on her again. When He first met Mom she was strong and vibrant, not frail and destitute like now, but she was willing to give up everything to have Him. Now, when everything else was really gone, she was still His, and He was here.
In the midst of my helplessness and heartache, the One who gave that promise to Mom back then said quietly, but with absolute authority, “Don’t worry—I’ve got this. It’s only dark a little longer, and the dawn that’s coming is like none she’s ever seen. Your mom’s going to wake to the brightest morning ever.”
© 2017 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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