Today’s my mother’s birthday. She would have been 92. She left us quietly from a hospice room one sunny December day in Ft. Myers, Florida, nearly 7 ½ years ago. She was a deep believer, and I know one day I will see her again. So why am I still crying?
Well, for starters: She was, next to my husband, my best friend. Being my mother, she knew me in a way no one else could. Mothers are really the only ones on the planet who know us through and through, know us from the very beginning—and love us anyway!
She was also a great listener. She felt my sorrows along with me—maybe even more deeply than I did. You know that old saying: “This hurts me more than it does you.” I never believed it as a kid. It took becoming a mother to “get it.” Now, as mother and grandmother, I get it. Big time!
And she was funny. And spunky. And smart. Not highly educated—but very smart. Once a hugely successful realtor, she retired “cold turkey” when she moved to live near us. She channeled all that energy and drive and love of people into her grandchildren, and into the many women she mentored in Mom to Mom and at Women’s Bible Study at our church.
She was also my biggest prayer partner. She was the first one I called with every prayer request, large or small. Or even trivial. I would blab my heart out, and she would listen and empathize. And pray. When I hung up, I felt so much better—and I bet she felt a whole lot worse! (Remember the part about mothers feeling their children’s pain?)
Recently I attended the funeral of a wonderful woman of God who reminded me a little of my mother. Her daughter, the mother of three daughters herself, read a beautiful piece she had written for her daughters about their grandmother—and the two generations of women before her. It began: “You stand on the shoulders of four.”
I was immediately taken back to memories of not only my mother, but my two grandmothers. They were very different. Grandma was a farm lady from a tiny town in western Minnesota. The other, my mother’s mother and my Nana, was the wife of a jeweler/postal carrier/watch repairman in Springfield, Illinois. They had very different lives and they had very different personalities.
But they had one thing in common. Each of them came to faith through evangelistic crusades in their towns. Each of them got out of their seats and went forward alone, eventually leading their husband and families into Bible-preaching, Christ-centered churches in which to raise their children. Each of them became strong women of faith and faithful prayer warriors.
My dad loved to tell the story of how when his mother (Grandma) went forward, her husband (Grandpa) said, “Anna, you sit down. You’re a good church woman. You don’t need to go up there.” But Anna did not sit down. How thankful I am for that—I, along with her six other grandchildren, now having raised our own children in the path of her prayers.
Her prayers. And Nana’s. And my mom’s and dad’s prayers as well.
It’s those prayers that live on. What did E. M. Bounds say? “Prayers are deathless. They outlive the lives of those who utter them.” It’s those prayers that help me this morning to turn my tears into gratitude, my mourning into dancing.
But I still wish we had phone lines—or at least internet connections—with Heaven.