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Mother's Day Confessions

My bank of Mother's Day memories is stuffed. Most of the memories are happy and fun, but two of them were dismal.

The first painful one was in May of 1986. When I was growing up, it was customary for people to wear corsages, homemade or store-bought, on Mother's Day. Those whose mothers were still living wore red flowers. Those whose mothers had died wore white ones. My Granddaddy Rose had a great knack for growing roses, so, many times, our flowers came from his prize blooms. Occasionally, though, my daddy would splurge on corsages from the florist. On those Sundays, I waltzed into church proud as could be. It never occurred to me to wonder how those wearing white flowers felt. At least, not until 1986.

The Mother's Day after my mother died my family and I were still mourning deeply. The sparkle in our lives was gone. The LAST place I wanted to be was at church seeing everyone's flowers, hearing a sermon about mothers or singing Mother's Day songs. If anyone tried to pin a white flower on me, I knew I'd implode. That morning we got in the car in Hartselle, AL, drove all the way to Troy, picked up my dad and kept driving until we got to the Gulf of Mexico. We only stayed for an hour or so before turning around and heading home. The idea was to try to run away from our awful new reality. Maybe it wouldn't have been so bad, if Momma hadn't been so good. Does that make sense? By the next Mother's Day, I had a better handle on my grief and knew that the only way to truly honor my mother was to be in church where she had taught me to be.

The majestic choir anthem "I Am" was sung at her funeral. When I'm in a choir singing that anthem, I KNOW the tears will fall. The last duet she heard my father and me play was "To God Be the Glory." We even have a short video clip of her standing in the background clapping as we finished. So that's another song that invariably brings tears to my eyes. Many other things, however, make me smile. Large red camellias or red geraniums always remind me of her. They were her favorites.

I've written on this blog previously about my amazing mother, my sweet stepmother and my smart, creative mother-in-law. All three were huge blessings in my life. Then, in 1973, I became a mother myself. I'm quite sure my funeral will consist of bloopers my children will share of the zany, epic failures they witnessed during my life. But, I hope they will also know that mothering them -- even through complicated pregnancies, sleepless nights, tears, messy illnesses, slammed doors, teenage hormones, car accidents, good grades, bad grades, missed curfews, feeding their friends, buying prom dresses, attending their ball games and concerts, etc. etc. -- has been the most fulfilling role of my life.

If there is a downside to mothering Laura, Matt and Julie, then it came on Mother's Day of 2003. Steve and I were living in Ecuador. All three of them were over 2000 miles away. Ecuador is a very mother-centric country. I believe that is largely due to the Catholic culture's emphasis on the Virgin Mary. It is a huge deal. Flowers and celebrations surrounded me, and there I was without a single child. The call volume was so heavy that I didn't even get to TALK to any of them that day. I. WAS. A. MESS.

But, as with my first "terrible, horrible, very bad, no good" Mother's Day, it wouldn't have been so bad, if they weren't so wonderful, if they hadn't added so much joy to my life.

I'll let you draw your own conclusions from what I've shared, but most of all, I want to encourage you to find a way to express your love to your mom, if she's still alive. If she isn't, then take some time to make a list of wonderful memories and lessons you have from her. And, by all means, remember that your own children -- no matter what stage of life they might be in -- are tremendous gifts from God.


John 16:21 - "A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come, but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world."

Exodus 20:12 - "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you."

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