Today is the 90th anniversary of the birth of my mother. I guess in one way I could refer to it as her birthday, but for some reason I was raised with the notion that it was only a birthday if the person was still alive. Once they had passed on, it was the anniversary of their birth. But in the scheme of things, that is immaterial. Suffice it to say that Mom has been gone since 1998 and that makes it 16 years ago that I guess you could say that I, and my brothers, became orphans. After all, Dad died back in 1978 when I was just 25 – 36 years ago now.
What seems really strange is that my cousin, Dave, still has his mother, who is in her nineties; and Janet just lost her parents a year ago. It just seems so foreign to me to think that you could still have your parents alive when you are in your sixties. I can’t even imagine it. I’m sure there are some things about my mother that I have forgotten throughout the years – but boy, I can remember thousands of things and my mind is racings with memories tonight.
For example, when we were children we travelled to downtown Chicago, to the Pittsfield Building, to visit our dentist. And when we were done, Mom would take us to Marshall Field’s where we would have lunch in Maria’s section, Mom’s favorite server. After all, Mom had been the buyer of fine women’s clothing in the elite 28 Shop before I was even born so she really knew just about everybody in the store and believe me, we never waited in a line for anything. Mom would flash some hand signal to somebody who would acknowledge and send back some signal that confirmed we were momentarily headed into lunch – no matter how long the line was.
I received my first chess set as a gift from Mom and Dad when I was about ten. Sure enough, it was from Field’s – the Fine Games section of the store – run by Mr. Kostakis. And then we we bought a television, Helen Pelling, one of Mom’s dear friends in Electronics, made sure we got the right model. And no visit was complete without heading to the train section in Toys where we added to our HO set that Dad had helped Doug and me build. And what would Christmas in Chicago be without lunch under the tree in the Walnut Room? Those were some of the best memories I have of our family outings. In fact, as I sit here tonight writing, it’s quite a blessing to re-live some of those events.
I was thinking about the Bible and whether I could think of any events that happened in 90 years. There are only two – and they both occur in Genesis. After Adam and Eve had their sons, Seth – one of the three – had his own son, Enosh, and when Enosh was ninety, he became the father of Kenan (Gen. 5:19). But there is a far more familiar story and that is when God told Abraham that his wife, Sarah, would have child at the age of ninety. And that is our verse for the night. After all, both biblical references had to do with birthdays! From Gen. 17:17, Moses recounts to us, “Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?”
We know from the Scripture that Sarah did have Isaac when she was ninety – and that was a miracle from God. How grand it would have been for my mother to live into her nineties! My encouragement this evening is that God has a plan for each of us and the number of our days has already been determined by the Father. My prayer is that you will appreciate the members of your family and your friends – and that you will make the most of the time that you have here on earth – regardless of how many years it is. Because the memories you create with them is what will get you through the tough times as you grow older. Happy Birthday, Mom. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…