Today is Mother’s Day, a sweet day to slow down enough to either say thank you to the mother still by our side or to cherish the memory of a mother we hold in our heart. And to those of us privileged enough to be a mother it is also a time to reflect on the blessings of being a mother.
While I have celebrated many Mother’s Days with my Mama by my side, this will be my 18th Mother’s Day without Mama. Even after all these years I can still get weepy sometimes as I reflect on times we shared. This week I pulled out some of my old photograph albums and looked for photos of Mama. The photos brought both smiles and tears as I recalled events, many of which I had long forgotten.
One of my sweetest memories of Mama is how she watched for my sister and me every day after school. We lived just a short distance from the grammar school so we walked to and from school each day. Often when we came home, Mama would be busy in the kitchen working on supper, but she would be keeping a watchful eye focused out the window watching for us to come home. At other times she would be seated on the couch in the living room where she could see the road out the window. I loved it when she was sitting on the couch because that sometimes meant we might be going to do something special after school, maybe a trip to the store or town. I can still remember seeing her smile as we barged through the door – and sometimes as I remember these times, I feel I can almost smell the delicate scent of Jergens lotion and Pacquins hand cream that she used to always wear.
Family meant everything to Mama. As I gazed at many of the pictures in the photograph album, I saw us kids playing in the backyard, enjoying summer picnics, hunting Easter eggs, unwrapping Christmas presents, and posing with Daddy, grandparents, and cousins. But where was Mama? She was the one in the background doing all the planning, cooking, wrapping, and making sure everything was ready and special.
Many of the photographs reminded me of how much Mama sacrificed for us. As I looked at the photos of my sister and me posing in our fancy Easter dresses, I thought about how much Mama gave up for us. She didn’t get a new dress every year at Easter, but she got one for us – along with new shoes, slips, and even the little shiny handbags that I wanted more than the outfit! She loved us with all her heart and wanted to give us the desires of our hearts.
I learned a lot from Mama, more than I ever realized all those years ago. I learned about giving selflessly and loving with all one’s heart. I don’t think that even she realized that in her unassuming, simple way, she taught me much about the love of Christ. The apostle Paul tried to help the Ephesians understand the depth of Christ’s love. He prayed: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).
Because of Mama’s love for me, it has been easier for me to recognize my Savior’s love. He loves me unconditionally, even when I don’t deserve it. He loves me completely, watching over me, protecting me, and desiring to give me the very best. And He proved His love for me when He died in my place on the cross so that I might have eternal life.
Zephaniah 3:17 tells us: “The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save, He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Once again as I think of the Lord rejoicing over me and quieting me, I think of my Mama and her tender love. I also think of my own kids and how I rejoice over each of them, how I anticipate time with them, and how I long to help them when they struggle. And to think, my Father in Heaven feels the same way about me – just more perfectly.
I am so thankful for my Mama. I wish I could thank her today for what I didn’t quite know how to say years ago. I’d like to thank her for loving me and for helping me to better understand Christ’s love. I’d like to thank her for teaching me how to love my kids even before I had kids to love. And I’d like to just rejoice over her like she rejoiced over me so many years ago. But one day in Heaven I’ll get to do that. And what’s more, we will both be able to rejoice together over the One who is Love, the One who loved us first, and the One who gave Himself for us, Jesus Christ our Savior.