I wish my kids had known her better, the woman I called Mom. I would like to have them remember how her hands flew over the piano keys, and see the line of piano students that came to the front door for lessons.
I wish they knew how every day after school she waited for me in the kitchen.
“Are you hungry?” she’d ask. And out would come just a little something to tide me till supper. Supper came toward evening. Dinner came at noon. Don’t confuse them.
“What did you learn?”
I wish my children could…
The question was never rhetorical. She wanted me to give details, to paint each piece of my day so she could see its picture. She asked questions, probing, and repeating. I described smells, colors, and sounds. While her hands busied with meal preparation, she interacted, listening and responding. She cared about my day, my life.
I wish my children could hear the kind of hilarity we shared, the I-need-to-breathe sort of laughter that folded us in half. I wish they could see her pull out her ever ready white hanky from her apron pocket to wipe tears from her hazel eyes.
Her voice, so familiar to me with its thrown-in-handed-down German words would sound foreign to them, but how I wish they could hear her pronounce something “verruckt,” confirming it “crazy.”
Before Mom married, she taught in a little one room schoolhouse. It’s part of a museum now where other little children can slide into smooth wooden desks and ponder what it must have been like. Her name, listed on a roster in the back of the school, proves how many other teachers managed a mix of grade one to eight jumbled together.
I wish my children could picture, like I can, all five feet of her standing in the white clapboard building, next to a black chalkboard. I wish they could hear her teaching voice, as well as her sit-down-and-behave one.
I wish my children could tip-toe through our quiet farm house at night and listen at her door, to hear her pray their names one by one kneeling by her bed.
I wish they knew what it was like to sit in the back of our car in the freezing Kansas winter with my head pillowed against her fur collar after Wednesday night church.
The Grandma my children knew forgot names and faces, where she was going and what she was doing. Her ready laugh came less frequently and without reason, like her tears. Her hazel eyes stared without recognition.
Yet, in those days, a spark of clarity came now and then.
“What good am I?” she asked me suddenly one day. The question shocked through the fog of dementia thick and sorrowful.
In truth, my mom’s question stopped what I was doing, my hands paused in mid-air. I didn’t have an immediate answer.
I am here because she carried me for a miserable nine months and birthed me by God’s design. Full of complications and risks, today the viability of her pregnancy would be questioned. Mine would be too.
“What good am I?” she asked.
“… in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them…” Psalm 139:16 ESV
Never can the beat of a heart be underestimated, nor the impact of one life on another. Not only did my Mom give me physical life, she perpetuated faith through her own. I was her student, not in the little schoolhouse, but in a farmhouse where she fried chicken and made beds, where she taught me the Bible and prayed. There she followed Jesus faithfully and used her lectern wisely. So, when does a mother’s value end? Never can life be underestimated, nor the impact of one life to another Click To Tweet
I thought for a moment, considering her question, “What good am I?” It hung like a cloud in her room with its hospital bed and one chair. I remember thinking she’d probably already forgotten the question. But I needed to answer, to frame it and speak it into the stale nursing home air.
I bent down and wrapped my arms around her small frame. She felt so slight under my embrace, so frail. I whispered into her ear, “You are here for me to love you.”
That’s how my kids knew my mom.