I did not call my mom yesterday. Nor did I send her flowers or a card. Not even a phone call. To the best of my ability to recall, it is the second time in over fifty years that I did not wish her “Happy Mother’s Day.”
I did think of her, though. I thought about cookies and cakes and roast beef and mashed potatoes. I thought about homemade shirts and patched jeans. I thought about her operating the tractor, milking the cows and driving the two-ton farm truck to Russellville to pick up a load of concrete blocks.
I thought about picking blackberries, staking up pole beans and peeling apples. I thought about homemade rolls and fried pies. I thought about chili suppers for the church folk and birthday cakes for each of six children. I thought about aprons and sun bonnets, crochet and embroidery and biscuits at breakfast.
I also thought about spelling words and history facts and report cards that she’d sign. I thought about “Tuffy the Tug Boat,” “Duck and His Friends,” and almost endless stories about Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox and Brer Bear. I thought about her drawing pictures at church during Dad’s sermons to keep me still and quiet. I thought about the first set of paints that she bought me when I was fifteen and the incredibly bad picture of pheasants in the snow that she kept on the wall until she was taken from those walls.
I thought about all the ballgames she came to, all the letters she wrote and the very few long trips she made to come see me. I thought about the years she raised children, read to grand-children and great-grandchildren. I thought about the meals she prepared and shared with family and friends. I thought about the miles of singing gospel hymns while we traveled the dark backroads of West Kentucky, coming home from church or just going somewhere. Anywhere. Anywhere with Jesus we could safely go.
It doesn’t seem possible but it has been nearly two years since she went on with Jesus, across Jordan. She was not perfect, had her share of flaws and her own dark moments. But she was faithful, she was loving and she was devout. She enjoyed her share of blessings and endured her share of deprivations. Among the more saddening of those losses was the old age dementia that began in her mid-nineties and then worsened.
Her mind slipped away a few years before she passed, leaving a frail and failing body behind. Even though she did not recognize me the last three or four years, she still seemed to appreciate the very few visits I made. The last time I saw her alive, I sat on the bed beside her and she held my hand for a while. Her knuckles were large and swollen by decades of advancing arthritis, so I held on as gently as I could. We sat for several minutes, saying little or nothing.
And when the time came for leaving, she steadied herself as best she could and stood to hug me goodbye. I stroked a strand of white hair away from her eyes and kissed her forehead, looked one last time into those pale blue eyes and said “We love you, Mom.”
We still do.