Time machines may only exist in the fantasies of dreamers and fiction writers, but in spite of that, thinking about my mom on Mother’s Day turns back the clock and ushers me back to a time that is forever preserved in my mind and etched in my heart. Memories transport me back to the day when 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 afterward, I felt compelled to share that experience and offer a few reflections that lingered in the immediate aftermath. Since then, Mother’s Day has always brought with it a special awareness of those whose mothers are no longer with them. In recognition of them, and in honor of my Mom, I offer those thoughts once again for this special day . . .
Some Moments Seem Frozen in Time ~
It was one of those ‘frozen in time’ moments as I stood at Mom’s bedside looking down at her 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 born right in that little town in Virginia later 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 at the same time 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 Mom’s 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 remaining 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. Strength had abandoned her, but she didn’t need to hold on anymore. She was being held by the One who said,
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. (John 10:27–29 NKJV)
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 Savior 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.”
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below. Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .
- “The only thing remaining 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.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Through the tears and frustration from having no way to help and nothing to offer her, I realized that we weren’t alone. The Savior who had come to meet Mom in that other bedroom years ago, was here looking down on her again.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “The One who gave that promise to Mom said quietly, but with absolute authority, “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.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
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© 2021 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
I was a thousand miles away the morning mama was called to glory; and as saddened as I was at her passing, I was overjoyed to know her suffering and fears were over. I’ll never forget our last morning and last moment together; just a few months earlier. As we sat in the recliners holding hands while quietly watching “F Troop” in the pre-dawn hours, we knew this was likely our last visit together here on earth. We spoke about heaven and our longing to be together in glory forever with our Creator God. In a loving embrace before getting in the car and heading for the airport, I told her I loved her. I told her of how she’d been the only mama in my life since I was 14 years old. With a tear-stained smile, she touched my cheek and said she’ll be waiting for me “on that shore.” I’m glad she didn’t see me pull over a few blocks down the road as I couldn’t see for the tears.
Thank you for “priming my pump” this morning my friend. They’re happy tears today; as I know I’m so much closer to being with mama and Jesus soon, but they too are cleansing tears as our shared memories of our mothers become even sweeter with time.
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Thank you so much for the privilege of sharing in my mind those last moments you had with your mom. It left me struggling once again for ways to express the overwhelming gratitude that floods my heart when I’m hit with a fresh reminder of the incredible thing that Jesus did for us. He did so much more than just allow us to go on living, He gave our hearts something here and now that the world can never offer. He gave us the assurance that the only thing that ended when that last moment with our moms here on earth had passed were the human flaws that allowed pain, suffering, and weakness. And in addition to that glorious truth, we have a promise backed by the omnipotent Word of God that we’l be seeing them again. Like you, I look forward my mom again, of course, but I’d like to say a heavenly “howdy” to your mom, too. I’d like to tell her that I think her investment in you turned out pretty well. Thanks for making Mother’s Day richer, J.D. and may God bless you and your Diane as you celebrate the day together.
And by the way, speaking of celebrations, we were praying for you re. your role in the celebrating your friend’s life. That’s a special honor and we’re confident that God used your words powerfully.
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What a moving tribute to your mother, Ron! I’m reminded by your words here of what C. S. Lewis said (and I paraphrase) – The man who has God and everything else is no richer than the man who has God and nothing else.
Blessings to you, my friend!
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I love your C.S. Lewis quote, Martha, and for the sweet words of encouragement. May God bless your Mother’s Day celebrations with things that make it hard for your heart to contain the joy.
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Beautifully written! God will always help us in the darkest hours!
Thank you for the gracious encouragement, Carolyn, and you are so right about God’s incredible willingness to go with us and sustain us through the toughest times we ever face. May your Mother’s Day celebrations be full of the kind of love that delivers memories that make life richer and more fulfilling.
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