On this first day of the new year I am grieving some of my losses from 2013. The biggest one of course was the departure of my dear mother. Until now I have not really had or taken the time to grieve her passing.
As these writings are meant to focus and honor my Mom, I will not make this about me and why this has been the case.
At my age it is difficult to remember Mom as a mother. I do recall her taking good care of me when I was sick. I also do not recall her ever really saying a cross word to me as a child. I am sure she probably did when I got into mischief, but those incidents are not in my memory banks. The only cross words between us came from me. Once I got angry at her for some long-forgotten reason when I was home from college and was so embarrassed that I called her at work and apologized.
When I think of my childhood as my mother’s son, what I credit her with is bringing me up in the Lord. My father, who passed away over a decade ago, used to tell me,”I gave you discipline. Your Mom gave you religion.” In some ways, I think Dad was telling me what Solomon advised when he wrote in Proverbs,”Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.”
Mostly because of Mom, I have spent my life trying to follow Jesus Christ. As the Psalmist (Psalm 86:16; 116:16) wrote, I serve the Lord as my mother did—not as well—but I credit her for whatever dedication I have given to Him.
In fact, even before I technically became a Christian in my teens, I had a God consciousness. As a little boy I knew I was God’s child. This, my friends, I am sure came from my mother Joyce.
She always made sure we went to church. I sometimes went protesting, (like the time she made me get up early on Sunday morning after camping out in the backyard with my friend), but I knew there wasn’t a choice.
For most of my life, however, I have thought of Mom as a doting grandmother. She cared deeply for my kids, and it showed. I think the most joy I ever saw in Mom’s face was when she was interacting with my children. As they grew up, she always inquired about them, and exhorted them to keep in touch with her. I really do not think my kids could have had a better grandmother than Joyce.
Mom, like I suppose most of the men and women of her generation, placed a high value on family. She made sure I was exposed to my own grandparents, including her Mom and Dad. To this day their godliness influences me.
Joyce Mae (as I believe she was sometimes called by her parents) also was extremely hospitable. It is family lore that Mom had a “y’all come” attitude. Guests might have had to sleep on the floor in our small house in Roanoke, Virginia, but they were always welcome.
This New Year’s night, as I think of my Mom, the phrase from the Bible that comes to mind which describes her best is that she was a “mother in Israel.” The judge and prophetess Deborah described herself this way in the book of Judges (chapter 5, verse 7).
Rabbi Mendel Weinbach says of Deborah:
Devorah was not only a prophetess and leader, but a judge of her people as well. When she describes herself, however, she makes no mention of any of these claims to fame. It may be concluded that the title “Mother in Israel” serves as a combination of all these three attributes. A mother in Israel is a leader of her family who prophetically foresees what is best for each member and judges each of them with the rare blend of wisdom and compassion which Heaven has granted her for fulfilling her role.
My mother was very much like Deborah in the way she raised us and in the attention she gave her grandchildren. I am sure Mom had other accomplishments in her life, but she never talked about them with me. I believe Mom first and foremost saw herself as the mother of her children and the grandmother of her grandchildren. I am extremely proud of being her son, and how she fulfilled her God-given role.
I look forward to one day reuniting with her in heaven, and a primary reason I will be able to do that is because she was my mother.