I wrote this a few days before Mother's Day. My birthday falls in the month of May, but it never upstages Mother's Day. Never has, never will.
Those who grew up during my day and time tend to do something special to honor mothers. The older I get, the more significant the day. It has something to do with that one commandment.
Mothers are the rope some of us clutched and held tightly to. We thought they could save us from all dangers.
Don’t you wish there was a sharing from our mothers who’ve passed on? Not really a test but a sharing time when they tell their name, their birthdate, and what they’d like us to know and remember about our time with them here on earth.
If I knew what my mother wanted me to remember, I’d work mighty hard to remember it. Meanwhile, I have memories of working side by side with her—doing the laundry, cleaning house, rocking babies, cutting roses off the red rose bush for that special day.
I’d also like to hear a specific thing she regretted. I think that’d give my fading memory a bigger spark of her humanness.
All humans have regrets, don’t they? No one is perfect, though some mothers have that unconditional love that makes them seem perfect.
I’d also like to know how my mother saw God, Jesus, Holy Spirit. She was baptized and a church member, but that’s the outer shell. I want to know about her relationship with the Lord. If she had one, she didn’t talk about it.
Wouldn’t that be a fine thing to know? As you can see, I don’t like guessing about important things.
We know behavior counts, and in our house, there was no cussing and no sassing. Not allowed. If you muttered your anger, you'd better do it outside and a good distance away from Mama.
Surely Mama knew something about the Lord. She sent her older children to church, and nothing got in the way of that happening. (Babies stayed home with her.)
People growing up in the 50s and 60s did not habitually hear, “I love you,” so we must go by the behaviors we recall. It’s what our parents left us. I have lots of behaviors to go by.
Mama was very task-oriented. Well, wouldn’t you be if you had twelve children? I’ve had two children. There is no way I can understand her situation. My father was pretty much out of the picture. Being the oldest girl, I was Mama’s right-hand helper; my sister, two years younger than I, was her left-hand helper. She could have used two more helpers, maybe three. In 1959, I had just finished 9th grade. At that point, being a mother became too much for Mama.
All the children grew up, but for nine of us, some of that growing-up happened at the Arkansas Baptist Children’s Home in Monticello, Arkansas. We sort of lost our mother for years and years. I went on to college, became a teacher, married, and had a family.
My mother eventually remarried. Cecil was a rice farmer. After 25 years of marriage, Cecil died, and my mother was alone.
Alone, but with two daughters and a son in the same town. They found time to keep her company and work in her yard. Sometimes that’s all a son or daughter can do. Mama cooked, which didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings. She could flat lay out a smorgasbord of food! Always her way of showing her love for family and friends.
None of us, including Mama, saw the nursing home in her future or ours. It came anyway. The social worker in the hospital, where she stayed for six weeks, was sure that would be the best option.
Mama was not happy about being in a nursing home, you understand, but none of us could lift her. And she needed the kind of tending none of us were trained to do.
Those who worked at the nursing home became family, friends. They were kindness and goodness. Oh, they had their tired days, of course, like any hardworking people, but for the most part, they could pull a smile from somewhere and ask Mama how she was feeling. She’d usually smile and say, “I’m fine,” whether she was or not.
Before I go farther, I need to tell you that my mama loved the Grand Ole Opry, Minnie Pearl, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash. Their music rollicked, ebbed, and swelled. It spoke to her like apple pie and the American flag.
When Mama was well enough to be wheeled from her room to the dining area, she said she recognized the piano player. He was blind, and he played the piano and guitar. She kept saying she knew him. We dismissed it as dementia talking.
Mama kept going back to the Garden Room. When Harold Holmes played, healing music danced across the room. My mother lived with a happy smile on her face. And then one day, she named places in Little Rock where Harold had sung, and he acknowledged it!
Just when I thought Mama’s proverbial luck had run out and I needed to worry about her, I watched a blind man fall in love with my mother—the woman who didn’t think anyone else could push his wheelchair as well as she could. She’d lean over, and they’d talk to each other in low voices. No one else seemed to exist for either of them.
Months unfolded, and Mama married the piano man in the nursing home. My older brother gave her away. It was the nursing home’s first wedding, so there was plenty of publicity.
Harold Holmes became my stepdad, AND he knew the Lord. We children were taken by the man who played “Amazing Grace” and loved our mother. It warmed our family to watch them.
One of my fondest memories is of my mother sitting beside Harold on the piano bench, after the wedding. She had her hand on his back as he played. That would become a common sight. For ten years, until he passed away, my mother was blessed with Harold's music, Harold's love.
God bless your day,
P.S. Kindest readers, my books listed below are linked with amazon.com. If you have interest, click the links. Thank you!
Mother's Day rose from this morning. Photographed by Pat Durmon, May 9, 2021.
Books by Pat Durmon
Lights and Shadows in a Nursing Home