We don’t really do this stuff, do we? We don’t often feel the need to say what we assume the other person already knows. It’s that British reserve, I suspect. But on this Mother’s Day, I want to tell just some of what you mean to me, and I’ll do it through a few memories, a few glimpses of days gone by.
You are in my earliest memories. As I try to collect them into some semblance of order, I believe the earliest of all is a glimpse from the late 70s or very early 80s. I am sick—sunstroke perhaps—and lying on the couch with a cold cloth on my head. You are working your way through the living room picking up toys, dusting the tables. You’re wearing a kerchief on your head and—is it overalls?—and you are humming one of those choruses you learned in your Pentecostal days as a brand new believer. “Bless the Lord, Oh my soul…” In this memory I see your love for me, your care for me, your attentiveness to me.
A few years later is a memory of you clutching your Bible as you walk into church. In my mind, you’ll forever be linked to that old, first-generation NIV Study Bible. Had it been any other book, it long since would have been consigned to the trash, and rightly so! Its pages are falling out, its binding giving way, its cover held together with bits of tape. There are slips of paper and old church bulletins shoved into it here and there. But it is your Bible. You bought it, used it, and truly owned it by studying it and writing in it. Your handwriting marks hundreds of its pages. It is a beautiful abomination of a book and you take it just about everywhere. Every morning I see it lying open where you have been reading it. Often you share a little something you have learned from it that day. In this memory I see your love for God’s Word and your utter dependence upon it.
Then there is a summer day at that old cottage where we spent our summers. You have called us into the living room, hauled out that Bible, and read us some proverbs. Now you are asking us what these proverbs mean and are realizing that we have all been daydreaming rather than listening. We haven’t heard a word you said to us. You are doing your best to raise us in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. We are dreaming about running in the woods and swimming in the lake. But you persevere, and over time we begin to share your love of the Bible. In this memory I see your love for your children combining with your love for God’s Word. There is nothing you have ever wanted for us more than this—that we would treasure God above all things.
And now I have a memory of listening to the golden oldies with you as we drive around in that first minivan, that earliest model of Chrysler’s Caravan. Shell has been giving away a series of cassettes when people fill up their gas tank and we have got them all. I have joined you to run some errands, and we are singing along to the best of the 50s and 60s. I still remember just about every word of every one of those songs. In this memory I see that we have always had fun together and that we are more than a mother and her son—we were friends. We still are.
And then there’s that memory of a pretty brown-haired girl walking into our home for the first time. You immediately love her. She starts to hang around even more and even starts to come to church with us—a brand new experience for her. “You really like her, don’t you?,” you ask. And I do. And now you’re nervous and asking me to pray as you take her out to breakfast so you can get to know her and, even better, to share the gospel with her. You have a few little notes written on the inside cover of your Bible—a path to follow and passages to read.
And now you’ve returned home to tell of how you walked through the gospel with her, how you prayed together, and how she professed faith and sought God’s forgiveness. That was more than twenty years ago, and she’s never looked back. You (and dad, of course) are responsible for sharing the gospel with me so that I believed and accepted it. You are responsible for sharing the gospel with my wife so she believed and accepted it.
I remember so much more. I remember you letting me roam city and dale, as long as I got home before the sun set. I remember you endlessly inviting people into our lives so that our place became a safe place for neighborhood children. Our door was almost always open—literally—so that at some time I had to chase birds, squirrels, cats, and dogs out of it! I remember you saying “sorry” when you sinned against me. I remember you cherishing the silly gifts I bought you when I was old enough to have my own money, like that little lamb holding a sign that said, “I love ewe.” It was kitsch, but I know you loved it because I loved you. I remember you taking me to Canada’s earliest pro-life rallies and it fills me with joy that today I am Chairman of an organization you founded when I was an infant.
But mostly I remember a mother who committed herself to her husband and children, even at the cost of so many of her own dreams. I remember a mother who prayed—and prayed and prayed and prayed—for us. I remember a mother who shared the gospel with us and told us of the hope that can be found in Christ Jesus. I remember a mother who rejoiced five times when each of her five children professed faith.
Even today, I know you fast and pray for Aileen and me, for our marriage, and for our children. Even today, I love hearing what God has taught you through the Word. Even today, though we are separated by hundreds of long miles, I know you are committed to us, that in every possible way, you are for us.
Thanks for all you are. Thanks for all you’ve done. Thanks for being my mom.