Kids love heroes. And those heroes are usually in the form of action figures. Superman. Spiderman. He-Man. Captain Caveman (although questionable, he remains one of my favorites).
They all have the same qualities. Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. And they are all men.
My hero throughout childhood and beyond is a woman. A small, frail, soft-spoken lady whose strength is her heart. I call her “Mom”.
The most prominent memory I have of my mother is her sitting at the kitchen table, her Bible open in front of her, her head bowed over it in prayer.
Many times, the pages of her Bible were wet from the tears that had fallen during her petitions. Prayers for her five children. Prayers for those who were sick or dying. Prayers that God would bring her husband home for good.
“Your are my refuge and my shield; Your Word is my source of Hope.” Psalm 119:114 NLT
I often wondered when the divorce would finally happen. She held out as long as she could…about 12 years of his coming and going…before she gave in. They signed the papers and the house that Dad built, the one I grew up in and Mom fought so hard to keep, was sold for a fraction of what it was worth.
HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS
She found an efficiency apartment and somehow managed to make it feel like Home. It was her touch that filled the room. It was always comfortable, even if you had to sit on the twin bed when visiting, which was made daily with military precision and covered in a bright, flower-printed spread. And she always had a tiny bouquet on her little table for two, even if she was the only one sitting at it.
She kept working as a Visiting Nurse, and was dearly loved by all her patients and their families, so much so that when she wanted to retire, some called and personally hired her outside of the VNA organization to continue caring for their family members. She had (and still has) that remarkable way of making one feel precious and important, no matter their condition.
I believe she has always been one of God’s favorites, and He has taken great care to provide a home for her, no matter her circumstances.
WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?
Dad remained absent for some years. He remarried and got divorced again. One day he showed up on Mom’s doorstep and asked if she would forgive him.
“I already have,” she said.
Dad moved in with my sister for a time as his health began to fail. Mom would visit and help take care of him, even washing his feet at one point. I added that remarkable image to my memory bank, the perfect example of the heart and servitude of Jesus. The servitude of a hero.
Dad eventually asked Mom to marry him.
Several times, in fact.
After two years of asking, (I personally think she wanted him to work for it), she finally answered, “Yes.”
The wedding was simple and beautiful, held in my brother’s home, and was the perfect example of the restoration God provides through forgiveness.
Mom and Dad shared another efficiency apartment and Mom provided the ultimate care for him until he passed away Christmas Eve, 2011.
I BELIEVE IN LOVE…AND MIRACLES
A few years later and during a bout of loneliness, her phone rang. On the other end of the line was an old high school sweetheart named Bob, who had recently lost his wife of 50 years to cancer. He said he was tired of playing Solitaire. She said, “Well come on over and we’ll play Scrabble.”
They got married a year or so later, and Mom now lives with him on his farm, surrounded by comfort and corn fields. She calls it her Paradise, yet another of God’s magnificent provisions for this woman whose strength is Love.
Mom’s phone number has been unlisted since the beginning of time. Bob still has the phone book he used to find her number. When he opens the book today, her number is not there.
CATS, CHICKENS, AND LOVE NOTES
Today my mother is content and cared for. Bob dotes over her and she over him. They both still have their wedding pictures from their first marriages on top the China cabinet in the dining room. Her little desk she brought from her apartment is situated on the left of the cabinet, his roll top on the right. A simple furniture arrangement per-say, but symbolic of two lives coming together like the pieces of a picture puzzle, each one connecting with the other by Design.
The Artist? GOD.
On one of my recent visits, I was the first down to the kitchen for morning coffee and spotted a note on the counter beside the coffee pot. It had been left there in the middle of the night. It wasn’t addressed to me, but it warmed my heart and made my eyes glisten. And I praised God for loving my mother so much that not only did He give His Only Begotten Son for her, He also gave her Bob.
She is still caring for others, and her patients have been replaced with cats and chickens. Every morning she walks to the barn with a plastic ice cream bucket full of water, lets them all out, talks to them, pets them, and feeds them.
And they are fed well, believe me.
And so is she.