Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
May 10, 2009
Be aware that Mother’s Day is a difficult time for many
Some people find Mother’s Day a difficult day to celebrate. One woman told me she had not been to church on Mother’s Day for 40 years. She still suffers from the bitter disappointment of not being able to bear a child.
For others Mother’s Day is a festive day. Florists sell tons of flowers that convey love to moms. Children honor Mom by taking her out to eat. Businesses prosper by selling jewelry, clothes, and cosmetics that Mom may not even need.
Churches celebrate the difference Christian mothers can make. Many pastors today will preach about the good influence Timothy received from his grandmother, Lois, and his mother, Eunice. Mothers will be applauded for their sacrifices and challenged to do their best to nurture their children in the faith.
Some of us will realize that Mother’s Day is a sad day for many people. Like my friend some women will grieve today because they never had a child. Some will endure the pain of having outlived their own children. They will have no one around to say, “Thanks, Mom, I love you.”
Some moms will nurse a broken heart because they have been forgotten by their children. No phone call, card, gift, or visit will brighten this day for them. They may cry themselves to sleep tonight because the phone never rang.
Some children may struggle trying to decide which mom to recognize, the one who gave them birth, or the one who has been Dad’s wife in recent years. The answer, of course, is both. Despite the hollow claim that “the children will not be damaged by divorce,” most children do suffer serious emotional injury from the divorce of their parents. Evidence suggests that little children are more the victims of divorce than their parents. Their scars never heal easily.
Today I will give thanks for the two mothers who had a profound influence on my life. Mama had been married to Daddy for 67 years when he died at age 93. Mama soon joined him, dying when she was 95.
Mama and Daddy never spoke of being happily married; though it never occurred to me they were not. In so many ways, the two of them were one. They worked together, raised a family of five children, and never wished to be anywhere but on their beloved farm. When they “went out,” it was usually to the garden to gather vegetables. These they canned, side by side, neither complaining, but proudly announcing that they had “put up” 55 quarts of green beans or tomatoes. Their pantry was usually full.
Mama was a survivor. This quality distinguished her entire life. She married a man who had nothing to offer her but himself and his love. Her union with him was a marriage to hard work during the Great Depression. Together they survived the hardships of the era and emerged stronger people. They had each other, faith in God, and a common desire to “make it.”
Mama struggled with physical problems. She had surgery so many times. When she was 60 she endured an 11-hour cancer operation which left her with a permanent colostomy. Without complaining, she endured that difficulty for 35 years. We all marveled at her remarkable fortitude. She taught us a lesson none of us will ever forget.
I owe Mama so much. She introduced me to books and encouraged me to read. She gave me my first Bible, and now I possess and cherish her last Bible. Mama insisted that I memorize poetry, learn how to express myself, how to speak, and how to sing. There was no stopping her. Only one time did she back down. I convinced her to let me stop taking piano lessons; that mistake I have regretted all my adult life.
Mama and Daddy did not “talk” their faith a lot. They simply lived it, and their love of God and Christian values rubbed off on us. Growing up, we never doubted that ours was a family whose foundation was faith in God, his Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Bible.
The other mother to whom I am indebted is my wife’s mother, Sarah Brown, She also was a survivor, and one of the most unselfish women I have ever known. She lived not for herself but for her family. Wounded by grief in the death of her husband when she barely 40, she struggled with sorrow for half a century before dying at age 99.
Despite the weight of her sadness she endured for one purpose – to do whatever she could to make life easier for her family. I lived only 18 years in the home of my birth mother. Sarah, however, lived in my home twice that long and she always cared more for others than for herself.
On Mother’s Day I think of things I wish I had said to both these mothers before their deaths. Since that opportunity is no more, I am moved to express words of gratitude and affection to the living. There are many who deserve to hear from me affirmation and praise before my tongue lies silent in the grave.
This is as good a day as any to get started saying what needs to be said. + + +