This I did.
Mom died this morning - Tuesday August 17, 2010 at 1201 AM - she was 93.
My mom - DeNelda - was an adolescent during the first Great Depression having been born in 1917, she and her brother Neville lived what can only be described as a Spartan lifestyle, one that was very common then and making a surprising come back now. Her parents, Ray and Ida Gordon, were sharecroppers in the San Joaquin Valley of California - think Grapes of Wrath here - mom was a font of humorous, and some not so humorous, stories of growing up in that time. She told of long hard days working in the cotton fields and corn fields and orchards of the area, and of sleeping on pallets out in the open fields. She told of the closeness of family life, the honesty of even the most destitute people and the need for folk to have honor in what they do.
Mom always encouraged me - and my nearest brother - as we were growing up, to find the beauty of the day, to look for the unexpected things that can make your life wonderful. Mom was all about hope, she was all about love and dignity, she was all about taking responsibility for your actions - mom was... well, mom was mom. Mom loved us, I know she did - it just showed, nothing really flashy or ostentatious, just steady and quiet and consistent. You could look into her eyes and see the love, and you could also look into those same eyes and see the hurt, shame and the sorrow that never crossed her lips about something we had done, or not done. To me, mom typified what it meant to love.
As I got older and had children, I began to think I had her system beat, I didn't. I would talk to her and she would make what I thought was so smart and world shaking, not belittled, but "diminished" You could see how the effort you thought was so neat and cool really didn't meet the simple things she would always do. So she taught me integrity, steadfastness and honor. She taught me, but I didn't apply it.
As I grew older still, I came to meet Jesus - to Really Meet Jesus - and His message of love began to peel away the layers of my sin and stubbornness, I began to see more and more, the simple, beautiful message my mom was trying to teach me all along, love is - that's all - love is. It endures all things. In fact I found it in the Bible: 1 Corinthians 13 in fact
"If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient, love is kind and love is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love." (NAS Edition)
Paul wrote almost two thousand years ago what mom was trying to teach me two days, two weeks, two years, twenty years ago - love abides all.
Momma, it was my blessing to be there with you. To hold your small and trembling hand and comfort your brow as you passed from this place into glory, and momma - let me say this simply - I Love You.
If you don't understand what I wrote here, if the idea of love is something you see on TV or movies or magazines - please, read the Bible, please go talk to a pastor, minister or read the Bible! or call me - there's a link down at the bottom of the post.
Please, come to know Jesus! You really cannot grasp how much better your life can be.
God is So Great! :)