This week I’m speaking twice on “Remembering Our Mothers: Living a Legacy.” In preparation, I began to go through my father’s slides and photos that we had had digitally scanned shortly before my mother died eight years ago. And I found some treasures.
This joyous, glamorous photo of my mom before children, maybe even before a husband.
This one from her honeymoon:
And these two of us (and only us) together; there aren’t many of those when you’re the third child:
But it wasn’t just about photos. I also pulled out the long letter that had been laying face up in Mom’s jewelry drawer for 16 years. I had written it in 1994 when I couldn’t decide what to get her for her birthday (and when I had no money). I wrote to tell her what I admired about her character and how I hoped to someday be exhibiting many of those qualities.
Here’s an excerpt:
“If I had to choose one word to describe your life, it would probably be compassionate. Even more than that, you seem to have the gift of mercy, caring for those others find distasteful or have forgotten….I have watched you serve in countless positions in the body of Christ, doing what needed to be done, never caring who received the credit. You looked on each as an opportunity to serve Jesus Christ. You willingly made the necessary sacrifices of time, money and talent to do the job well….
“You are a person who reaches out to others, offering genuine friendship. Even when ‘taking attendance’ from the church choir, I know it was for the purpose of knowing who to welcome, to whom to make a call of concern over an absence. With all the friends you had, you always had room for one more and went out of your way to make others feel accepted and a part of the group….
“You always have been, and still are, a woman of prayer. A request expressed to you is not forgotten but is taken to the Father faithfully until answered. I can see you still, in your bedroom at Summit Avenue, having a conversation with your God for the needs of others. Thank you for teaching me how to pray specifically….
“You taught me to be honest. Once Linda and I sold forsythia twigs shoved in pots as ‘bushes’ around the neighborhood and you made me take all the money back. To this day you exhibit honesty in all your dealings, even at personal cost….”
My mother modeled Christ to her kids and in her world. When I wrote the letter, I said, “My prayer is that someday my life will exhibit the qualities I have seen you exemplify.” I still hope that someday that will be true. It’s a legacy I wish to leave, passed down from one generation to another.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom—and all of the moms out there leaving an example for their kids and their world.
And here’s a fun bonus photo for making it to the end of this long post. (My mom’s the one in the middle showing some skin!)