Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mom's Birthday

Today is the anniversary of my mom’s birth. If she were still alive, she would’ve been 80 years old today. She died at the age of 52, when I was 19 years old. I got married about six months before her death. I look at her two sisters: one lived to 90 and the other is still going strong at 91. Yet, her brother died at a young age, too. I don’t remember how old he was—just that I was in elementary school. Her own mom died as a result of complications from childbirth when my mom was only three weeks old. She had a hard scrabble life, but if there was a word to describe her, I would say sturdy. Steadfast. Ok, two words. She was forced to grow up long before her time, and I don’t think she got to experience much joy as a child. My mom abused her poor little body and it just plain wore out and couldn’t go on any more. I have very few of the bad habits she had, and I try to take care of myself. The closer my own age gets to 52, the more I realize how much of a vapor our lives really are. I want to be there for my grandkids. And to be able to be active and healthy for them. She never held one of my children. That’s hard.

In her younger days, my mother was a beautiful woman. She was one of the first two women to graduate with a degree in pharmacology from the University of New Mexico. Because my sister was born mere months after she graduated, she never got to pursue a career as a pharmacist. I don’t know if she regretted that. She seldom, if ever, complained.

She was ill for several years before she died. She was put on oxygen for 24 hours a day when I was a junior in high school. The ravages of heavy smoking and other abuses stole much of her physical beauty, but she kept her wicked sense of humor. She joked quite often about reincarnation and who or what she’d like to come back as. One of my biggest regrets is that I do not know where my mom stood with the Lord. I am totally unsure of that. And that is so, so painful. She attended church regularly and was a deaconess, but I don’t know what her heart state was. We didn’t talk about Jesus and things of God naturally in my family when I was growing up. We went to a progressive church, where we relied heavily on pre-destination and thought that ‘fundamentalists’ were just a little bit inferior to us, and that all those stories in the Bible were possibly allegories. I don’t think I fully believed that just being good and going to church wouldn’t save you at that time in my life. And, if I were being totally honest, I don’t know if I was afraid of what her answer might have been. I hope to see her in heaven. If good works could get a person there, she’s in. But I know that it’s not good works. We’re covered by the grace of God. God knows what was going on in my mom’s heart. If I can communicate one thing, and one thing only, it’s this: share-tell-ask. Ok, that’s three things. Be the gospel to someone who won’t read it. Share it with someone who you think will never listen to or hear you. You have never ever looked into the eyes of someone that Jesus didn’t die for. Have those painful conversations. They are so important.

Whew! This post went somewhere I never intended for it to. I have a friend who recently lost several people close to her, and that’s left me pondering mortality and eternity.

So, Happy Birthday Momma! I love you!

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