The middle of September is filled with several dates that are remembrances of things that aren’t the most wonderful memories I have. It was twenty five years ago today that our mother died. From what Doug told me, my brother who was with her at the time, it was a peaceful ending. She had lost consciousness several days earlier and was resting peacefully at home when the end came. Her death resulted from complications with Mom’s long fight with geriatric MS.
She was once so vibrant. I remember, as a young boy, trying to keep up with her as she navigated downtown Chicago, usually on foot, and knew every nook and cranny of Marshall Field’s, where she had worked before I was even born. It was a joy to be with her on the jaunts to her old stomping grounds. She knew everyone and I can’t remember ever waiting for a table in the dining room at Field’s – she knew all the secret hand signals between the servers and the hostess stand. Mom could land us a table in a moment. That was just one of the perks that we got when we travelled around the city with Mom.
Then, one day she stumbled… and eventually we learned that she was suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. It took years to really take hold, but it was very unpredictable. One day, she could be down here in Carmel, driving home in the evening – but the next day Mom would be unable to get out of bed. It was tough to watch her decline.
Of course, I stayed in touch with Mom, but I was the child who had moved away. She was closer to my two brothers and eventually she moved to Morris, IL to be near Doug. He was the best equipped to assist with her medical needs and could oversee housekeepers and others who became a necessary part of Mom’s care.
After Dad’s death, forty five years ago, Mom never remarried. Her mission was to be available to her sons and to continue to support us in her own inimitable way. I don’t know that I fully appreciated her commitment to us when it was going on.
I found it difficult, as the oldest, to be absent from so many conversations that affected the family. I was used to being included but once Janet and I moved to Indiana, it became more difficult to attend these sessions. As I look back on it, many years later, Mom made the right decision to lean on Doug for direction and support. He did a great job and it must have been difficult for him to raise his own family, build his medical practice and continue to provide the guidance that Mom so desperately depended on.
There are many great memories – the family vacations, piano lessons, watching Mom interact with her own parents, as well as Sunday night dinners at Grandpa and Grandma’s house. Of course, also the Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas and New Year’s Eve that was spent each year with Janet’s folks. After all, her parents and mine were best friends.
It was two days ago that Janet and I also remembered the death of her father ten years ago… And the death of her mother eighteen days before that. It was a very difficult time for Janet and her sisters. And I had known my in laws from the time I was a very young child. It was like losing my own parents a second time.
So this time of year calls for moments of remembering the times of our youth. Moreover, the great times that we also have with our three children and four grandsons. And it is our prayer that Janet and I will have many more great years ahead carrying on the legacy of our family.
Our verse for tonight comes from Solomon’s book of Proverbs. When speaking about mothers we are told in Proverbs 31:31, “Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”
My grandfather used to implore us to take care of our mother. He said, “You only get one to a lifetime – take care of her…” And they were words we listened to… we knew that he lost his own mother when he was thirteen years old. In fact, he set out on his own in his early teens to lessen the burden on his father, who was a railroad engineer on the Pennsylvania RR.
My encouragement this evening is that most of us have mothers who have nurtured us, helped form us and provided a safe environment for us to mature and grow. Granted, some of those mothers are adoptive Moms and there are a number of women who have been bonus Moms in families across the land. My prayer is that God will continue to bless our families and that future generations will have the same great sorts of memories that our generation grew up with. We also have to remember that grieving is the price we pay for loving. We wouldn’t do one without the other. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…