This article, written by Keith L. Brown, was originally published on his blog “Morsels of Bread.”
We may never know how many lives we touch for good. Some evidence of our humble efforts may be manifested immediately, some may not be recognized until years later, and we may not live to see how some lives were touched by something we might have said or by an act of kindness that we rendered.
I believe that statement could be made of all of us, but I want to focus on that statement as it applies to mothers, in particular, my own dear mother.
Love For Her Family – “I never cared for pie”
My mother and I were blessed to spend 38 and a half years together on this earth before she lost her battle with breast cancer at 59 years of age. During those precious years we laughed together, we played together, we shared our hopes and dreams for better tomorrows, and there were even times when we cried together. I can honestly say that she was not only my mother but a true and faithful confidant and an endearing friend.
She played many significant roles in my life. She was my doctor and nurse when I was ill. She was my lawyer when I found myself in difficult situations, always defending me to the end. She was my counselor, always offering words of advice and comfort. She was also my first Sunday school teacher. At an early age she taught me to have a deep and sincere love, appreciation, and respect for the Word of God. And so, she was the first to teach me of the love that my Savior has for me and that I should show my love for Him by being obedient to His commandments.
She was a very humble person. She never owned a lot of worldly possessions. She did not own or drive an expensive car, have a large bank account, or even own an expensive wardrobe or expensive jewelry.
Our family never lived in a big fancy house, but what made the houses that we lived in so special is that my mother knew how to make a house a home. She spent many hours in the home taking care of her family and no sacrifice seemed too great to her as far as the family that she loved was concerned. There were many nights that she would be the last to lay down and rest, only after she was sure that her family were all in, at rest, and the home was secure.
Many were the times growing up, when I saw her go without some of the things that she wanted or needed to make sure that her family was provided for, or she would take a smaller portion of food to make sure that her four children had enough to eat. My mother was that mother who Tenneva Jordan, a mother and author was describing when she said, “A mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.” The writer of Proverbs adequately paints a picture of her with his words, “She [looked] well to the ways of her household, and [ate] not the bread of idleness” (Proverbs 31:27).
I can honestly say that my mother set the tone and atmosphere in our home. Everyone who entered our home was a welcomed guest, whether they were a family member, a long-time friend, or a complete stranger. Without fail she would always make sure that every guest was comfortable, and would always offer them something to drink or a bite of food to satisfy their hunger.
Even after her four children had left home and were on their own, she maintained constant contact with each one, and at times offered wise counsel and direction when and where needed. However, she always allowed each of us to have our free agency, all the while praying that we would always make the right decisions. And even when we messed up and made some bad decisions in our life, “She [opened] her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue [was] the law of kindness” (Proverbs 31:26). It is indeed true as someone has said, “Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.” Someone else has wisely said, “If you have a mom, there is nowhere you are likely to go where a prayer has not already been.”
Not only did my mother offer her counsel, but she always made sure that her children would always have a home to come home to, and she delighted in each visit.
Love and Compassion for Others – A Walk around the Neighborhood
One of the last acts of love and compassion by my dear mother was when she decided one evening to take a walk around the neighborhood where our family lived at the time. By this time she was dependent upon oxygen 24 hours a day. So, with my younger sister, and her little portable oxygen bottle in tow, she walked around the entire neighborhood stopping to greet friends and neighbors and spending a little time with each one of them, thanking them personally for their kindness and their friendship through the years. I believe that she knew within her heart that her remaining days upon this earth were few and she wanted to make sure that everyone knew how much she appreciated having them in her life. That small act of love and compassion put the period in place on my mother’s life. She had spent her entire life, though brief as it was, doing whatever she could to make someone’s day just a little brighter.
She had a giving heart, and many were the times that I saw her give her last to someone in need without expecting anything in return. As a boy I would often ask her why she would give away what she had, when it was clear at least to me that she needed those things herself. She would always smile and say, “Don’t worry about me. I will be alright.” She exemplified through her righteous examples that it is more blessed to give then to receive, as time and time again she was blessed and had all of her own needs met.
Whether it was a kind word, a friendly smile, the giving of money to help someone in need, or sharing food from her table to feed a hungry soul, she gave of what she had – willingly and gladly.
When I think of my mother, I think of the words to the song that we sing “Because I Have Been Given Much” (Hymn # 219). The words adequately describe how my mother strove to live her life:
Because I have been given much, I too must give;
Because of thy great bounty, Lord, each day I live
I shall divide my gifts from thee
With ev’ry brother that I see,
Who has the need of help from me.
Because I have been sheltered, fed by thy good care,
I cannot see another’s lack and I not share
My glowing fire, my loaf of bread,
My roof’s safe shelter over head,
That he too may be comforted.
Because I have been blessed by thy great love, dear Lord,
I’ll share thy love again, according to thy word.
I shall give love to those in need;
I’ll show that love by word and deed:
Thus shall my thanks be thanks indeed.
*The lyrics of the hymn “Because I Have Been Given Much” were written by Grace Noll Crowell (1877-1969) © 1936, 1964 Harper San Francisco. The tune was written by Phillip Landgrave © 1975 Broadman Press.
A Song in Her Heart – “I’ll fly away”
I loved to hear my mother sing. She always seemed to have a song in her heart. She would often sing as she was working around the house. She would sing when she was happy, and especially when she was feeling down. Music brought joy to her soul, and whether she ever realized it or not, it brought joy to my soul just to listen to her.
Sometimes she would sing a Capella, but often she would put one of her favorite albums on the record player and sing along, or especially on Sunday mornings, she would turn on the radio to her favorite gospel station and sing along.
As a side note, for all the young people who are reading this, in my day, we did not have CD players, an IPod, or an MP3 player to listen to our music, not to mention that there were no computers, so we also had no concept of ITunes, Rhapsody, or the like.
My mother also sang in one of the church choirs in the old Baptist church where we attended. One of her favorite songs was “I’ll fly away.” The lyrics to the first stanza of that hymn are as follows:
Some bright morning when this life is over, I’ll fly away
To a land on God’s celestial shore, I’ll fly away
When the shadows of this life have gone, I’ll fly away
Like a bird from these prison walls I’ll fly, I’ll fly away
I’ll fly away, oh glory, I’ll fly away
When I die, hallelujah by and by, I’ll fly away
At the sunset of her life, the words to the third stanza became ever more meaningful:
Just a few more weary days and then, I’ll fly away
To a land where joy will never end, I’ll fly away
I’ll fly away, oh glory, I’ll fly away
When I die, hallelujah by and by, I’ll fly away
Although she loved her family and longed to stay just a little while longer with them, the battle that she was fighting against breast cancer began to take its toll, and she wanted to go home and be with the Savior whom she loved. On the morning of 12 June 1997, just before the noon day hour, at the young age of 59 years, she did “fly away” and bid farewell to the family she loved for a season. And, at the close of her funeral services, the choir sang “I’ll fly away.”
Her Parting Counsel to Family and Friends
The words recorded in my mother’s favorite scripture verses found in Psalm 37:1-9 are fitting as her last counsel especially to her family, as well as, to all those whom she was blessed to meet in life:
1 FRET not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.
2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.
7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.
8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.
9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.
To the Men – Words of Counsel
It has been said that behind every good man there is a good woman. As men, let us never become so macho and chaotic in our way of thinking to ever accept the world’s idea that men are superior to women. I testify to you, that simply is not true.
It doesn’t matter if you are single, married, widowed, or divorced, I am certain that each of us can look back on our lives and find that there has been some special woman who has played a significant role in our life. The fact of the matter is that we owe a great debt of gratitude to at least one woman in our life, that person being the very one who gave us life – our mother. If it were not for her giving us life, we would not be here.
May I also add, to all of you who are husbands and will one day be husbands and have families of your own. The greatest gift that you will ever give to your children is to show them that you love their mother.
There is an Irish proverb which states, “A man loves his sweetheart the most, and his wife the best, but his mother the longest.” And so I say to each of us, regardless of our current status, regarding your wife if you are married, and especially regarding our mothers – Honor her, Cherish her, Respect her, and most of all, LOVE her.
To the Youth – Words of Counsel
Young people, do not take your mothers for granted. Your mother is a choice daughter of our Heavenly Father and as such, she deserves all the love, honor, and respect that is due her. Do not be ashamed or embarrassed to be seen with her. When asked by anyone who she is, she is your mother, the very one who gave life to you. Do not use your mother as the subject of your cruel and unkind jokes or remarks. Do not allow your friends or associates to speak disparagingly about her either. If you have friends that come to your home that refuse to give your mother the respect that is due her, then perhaps it is time for you to consider choosing better friends. Never allow a friendship to take the place of your mother’s love.
Always remember that mothers are an eternal blessing from our Heavenly Father. Don’t ever forget that important truth. I can boldly testify to you that there is not one single person in the entire world exactly like a dear mother. Therefore, I say to you as well, Honor her, Cherish her, Respect her, and most of all, LOVE her.
To the Mothers and Mothers Yet to Be
I close my remarks with just a few words addressed solely to all the mothers and all who will someday be mothers.
Please know and understand that you are special daughters of our Heavenly Father. He loves you and cares for you with an immense love. Never let anyone tell you that you are anything less than the beautiful daughters of God that you are. And never let anyone treat you like you are anything less than who you truly are.
It is my sincere humble prayer that every day of your lives will be a day to celebrate the joys of motherhood, as well as, the sacredness and blessedness of womanhood. And may your husband and children, now and forever, arise to praise you and call you blessed. This is my humble prayer. In the sacred name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.