An Aside on My Mother

It has taken me awhile to write this post. Two months ago my mother passed away from pancreatic cancer. She was 79 years old and was living in Clay Center, Kansas. My mom knew Jesus Christ as her redeemer and I am confident that she is now in his very presence enjoying life to the fullest.

I traveled alone to the funeral from my home in Italy. I found plenty of time to think and reflect about my mother’s life, my life with her, and life in general. My mom was not an outgoing woman–I wouldn’t say that she made friends easily. She was a woman of character and the friendships she did have were solid. She was the one that made sure I attended church during my growing up years–and she made sure that the pastor came to our house and shared the gospel message with me. She worked hard for 30 years at GM–helping to supplement my dad’s income to give us a good middle class life. She never went to college (neither did my dad) but made sure that college was a priority for me. She was the one who attended my National Honor Society induction in hight school, came to college homecoming at Alabama, and reveled in my marriage and the birth of my children.

Her latter years were not so pleasant. Six years ago she suffered a severe stroke that left her right side paralyzed and her brain mentally deficient. She was moved to a nursing home and remained there until her death. My father faithfully ate dinner with her every evening (all but two nights in six years) in that home. It was difficult to watch her deteriorate over those years–watching her mentally slip away–so much so that she rarely recognized my wife or kids–or even me. She was almost completely unable to communicate. It was hard not to count her as dead already. But she wasn’t dead and these were part of the days that God allotted to her–for a purpose that I may never know this side of heaven.

My mom was born on Veteran’s Day in 1927. She died on Independence Day 2007. It seems a little bit ironic to me–and yet provides a suitable metaphor for her life. My mother never fought in a war–but she lived through some. And she experienced her own wars in life. She was a “veteran” in many ways–of a rather dysfunctional childhood, a marriage that was nicked and scarred, of miscarriage and sibling deaths, of disappointment on several fronts, etc. And now she truly has her independence–she is truly free–free from the ravages of a sin wrecked world, free from the confines of her stroke laden body, free mentally, free spiritually–truly free.

The book of James states that “life is but a vapor . . . ” It very much feels that way to me right now. My father is also dying of cancer as I write–I don’t really know how long he has to live. And I am not sure how long I have either. There is nothing wrong with me that I am aware of–I simply don’t know how long God has allotted to me. Because life is a vapor the Scriptures encourage us to be wise in its use, stewarding it well (Ephesians 5:15). We must live life now in step with Christ as we move through this world as ongoing veterans–but independence day is coming. Thanks mom for your life–I love you!

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