See Part 1 here.
See Part 2 here.
See Part 3 here.
See Part 4 here.
See Part 5 here.
See Part 6 here.
See Part 7 here.
See Part 8 here.
See Part 9 here.
See Part 10 here.
See Part 11 here.
See Part 12 here.
See Part 13 here.
See Part 14 here.
See Part 15 here.
See Part 16 here.
See Part 17 here.
See Part 18 here.
See Part 19 here.
See Part 20 here.
See Part 21 here.
See Part 22 here.
See Part 23 here.
See Part 24 here.
See Part 25 here.
See part 26 here.
See part 27 here.
See Part 28 here.
Mom was never one for big deals. I got that trait from her. This mean her gathering was a small open house. The flaw in Mom’s plan was that she didn’t take into account just how many people loved her. The fact that my dad is well loved in the area as well meant that a few hours of an open house turned into a house packed with people, all sharing stories and talking.
I saw old coworkers of my mother. I saw family I hadn’t seen in years. I saw childhood friends of my sisters. Everywhere I looked, there were groups of people talking and eating. I think at that point I was more overwhelmed than anything else.
I spoke with an old coworker. We got caught up in talking about the Bible and faith. I talked to family when I saw someone was alone. Eventually, I had a chance to talk with my dad.
The constant opinions that, “her pain is, at least, over” weren’t as much of a comfort as some might have thought. We all wanted Mom to get better. After a week, I still don’t think he was in their bedroom for more than a few minutes. He certainly wouldn’t sleep in there. When he talked to me about his frustration with the “end of pain” theory, I offered a different perspective.
“Of course we all wanted her to get better,” I said. “But if I had to choose between letting her suffering end and letting her existence to continue in pain, I’m glad her pain ended.” The fact is, we’re all mad about Mom’s death.
I think Dad had it pretty tough that day. I heard him explain the circumstances no fewer than four times.
“It wasn’t even the cancer that killed her,” he’d explain. “Her body just gave out.”
That’s true. The cancer hadn’t been what ultimately killed her. Her body was fighting on too many fronts.
He maintained his strength and kept talking to people. I’ve always believed he was a very strong man. I think that day was the strongest I’ve ever seen him.
In reflection, the saddest thing was that it took something like this for this many people to come together. When I was very young, the house looked pretty much like that around the holidays. Family would come from all over to hang out and share stories. Neither my dad nor I are fans of large gatherings, but I’d like to see our family come together more often without the tragic loss that caused this particular reunion.
The best thing was that love was everywhere I looked. People who needed comfort received it. People who needed fellowship received it. People who needed quite solace received it.
The hours went by, and the family cleaned up. Most of us had to head back to our lives after that, but they wouldn’t be normal. When we lose someone central to our life, normal doesn’t seem possible. My little sister still stops when she realizes she was about to say goodbye to my mom before work. I caught myself picking up the phone the next Friday because I call her every Friday. She was such a central figure, our muscle memory was activating, and we had to remind ourselves that she was gone.
Several members of the family talked to me during the event. There’s a real fear that things will simply unravel now that Mom’s not here to hold it all together. I’m still not actually sure how to prevent that. On my end, I have to do a better job of reaching out.
There weren’t waves of tears and lamentations (which would have frustrated my mother). Sure, some of us shed tears of sadness, but for the most part, we all just talked and caught up. This is exactly what my mom would have wanted.
Looking back, I’m happy at the number of Christ-like attributes my mother demonstrated.
First, she was forgiving and always willing to welcome us back. (Luke 15:11-32, the parable of the Prodigal son). No matter what I or any of my siblings did, we knew where home was. We knew if we were willing to make it right, she’d welcome us back.
My mom was loving, and she respected her own mother (Leviticus 19:3). When our grandma got sick, mom cared for her for so long I can’t remember. I imagine grandma moved in somewhere around 2008. Mom denied herself trips, vacations, and even simple dates with my dad so that she could care for her mother. She did this all the way until Grandma’s death.
She was driven to make her home a home (Titus 2:3-5). She always worked around the house. She always had a project in mind. She cleaned almost nonstop. Before her retirement, she did all of this after working to provide for us financially.
She was a selfless servant (John 13:1-17). If I’m shamed by anything, it’s how I never learned from her example. She never flaunted or abused her rightful power over us. She simply did what needed to be done. She never let something go undone because it was beneath her. Heck, she never let something go undone because she felt it was her duty to do so.
Reading The Bible as I do now, and looking back on how she acted, I can’t believe how blind I was. My lack of scriptural training made that impossible, and my hardened heart convinced me that being served was my right. As I grew older, I resented others for not doing more, but even my acts of service weren’t done out of love, but to elevate myself above my siblings.
Now, as I prepare to become a father, I can be glad that I had her example to learn from. She wasn’t perfect. I’m not trying to portray her as such, but she was the perfect mother for me. Now that I have a scriptural context with which to reflect on her behavior, I’m more equipped to be a better father.
The only thing left to do, was start my life without her.
Questions and Revelations
How can I apply what I saw my mom do to my life?
For starters, I can show the same sort of investment and love for my boys as my mother showed me. She took an interest in my life. She read the books I read (and my siblings) just because I read them. She watched whatever I wanted to watch. I think the first year we truly started becoming close was 1997. Mom watched an entire football season with me. She even participated in a fantasy football league (and won I might add. Look, she picked mostly Broncos, her favorite team, and they won the Super Bowl that year.)
I have thoughts and scripture to guide me on a lot, but my mother’s example mostly helped me realize how to love and support my children. I want to make sure my boys feel that same level of support from me.
If you have other questions regarding my faith or thoughts or actions at this point, feel free to ask, and I’ll add them to the blog. I try to ensure these passages are self reflective. My chaplain told me to take this opportunity to look at myself, but at the moment, those were the only real thoughts going through my mind. Questions might help me remember other thoughts or parts of The Bible I’d overlooked while typing this post.
Thanks for reading