Veterans Day forever linked with mother’s legacy
November 11, 2016, will be a memorable day for me for the remainder of my life.
It’s a special day because it is Veterans Day, my sister’s birthday (Janice), and two grandchildren’s birthday ( Jesse and Karina). So that day on the calendar was filled with black ink.
In fact, November last year was full. Returning from California in time to attend a granddaughter’s wedding; we voted in the presidential election; I received a new cell phone – with the usual problems; we both had doctor’s appointments; we took friends to the airport; Carol had Wednesday Bible studies to prepare for; we had Thursday choir rehearsals; I planned to get caught up on my writing; we would sing with the JOY Choir in Fayetteville and eat lunch with them….
But suddenly, the calendar had red ink.
Sometime after noon on Friday, Nov. 11, 2016, one of my siblings called and informed me that our 97-year-old mother had entered Heaven at 11:30 that morning. If there’s any truth to the phrase “parting is such sweet sorrow,” it fit when I received the call.
Mom’s active memory had dissipated years previously. I am the third of 10 children — the oldest of five boys — and whenever I visited her, she would give me a blank look and ask who I was. The following scenario took place several times on each visit:
“What’s your name — who are you?”
“I am Eugene, your first-born son.”
“You are … Eugene? Stanford Eugene, my son? The Lord bless you, sonny-boy.” And we hugged each other. I was gentle because of her age and frail condition.
Three or four seconds later, mom asked, “Who you are? Are you here to visit someone?”
Although all learned information remained stored in her brain, the “data-retrieval system” no longer worked. Mom couldn’t recall if she had been married. An unmarried brother took care of mom, but often she didn’t know who he was. Since mom lived in the minute-by-minute present, nothing upset her because she couldn’t remember anything to be upset about.
But I know who my mother is!
When I received the phone call, memories began flooding my mind.
Between 3 and 5 years old, I would often ask “Mommy, can I brush your hair?” I don’t know what mom thought about it, but she handed me the brush and at least pretended to be happy about it. She made me feel big by asking me to “help” her cook. I might have been more of a hindrance, but mom never let on about it.
But of the multitude of memories that I accrued during the 20 years prior to marrying Carol, one stands out in vivid, full-color detail: it was mother’s night-time routine for most of the first 10 years of my life.
Mom (or dad if he was home) would tuck us in bed and pray over us. Then Dad went back to studying and mom went to the old, upright piano. Singing, her beautiful contralto voice gently wafted into our bedrooms as she played her favorite hymns. I fought sleep because I wanted to hear her sing. I learned more of the joy of the Lord and Bible doctrine through mother’s singing than in all the sermons I heard for those 10 years.
Mother gave me a priceless legacy. It was listening to her singing that helped set my course in life. My choice of music, my manner of worshiping God, my love for the Lord Jesus Christ, and my love for mankind came from my mother and her love for the Lord.
Oh, I also remember times when I disobeyed mom. At a height of 5-foot, 4-inches, she didn’t put up with any guff from us. Dad was a U.S. Navy Chaplain and gone a lot, and mom ruled the roost quite handily.
With 10 children, mom loved us the best way she knew how. We kids, in turn, loved mom the best way we knew how. Both sides had faults, but our love was true.
We drove to California to celebrate mother’s life. It was sweet sorrow for all of us.
Now, a year later, I think of mom and smile. I know she is with Jesus whom she dearly loves, and her memory is fully restored.
Thank you for teaching us about life, mom, and thank you for teaching us to love the Lord. I love you, and I’ll see you in heaven.