Today is Mother’s Day. Yes, it is a Hallmark holiday, filled with commercialism, but it is also a time to stop for a moment and honor the woman who brought you into this world. Let’s face it: there is nobody like momma. Mine has been gone for 21 years, and I miss her as much today as I did the day I had to say good bye to her. Time doesn’t heal all wounds, nor is it a recipe for grief. But genuine love transcends time and place. It is the only thing that never fails or dies. And although she is no longer here by my side, she is immortal, kept alive in my thoughts and memories.
I was raised by a remarkable woman. Sure, everybody thinks that their mom is exceptional, but truly, mine was. I could list her virtues or rattle off the lessons that she taught me about faith and family and character, but that would sound more like a list of predicable platitudes. Instead, I’d like to share one of the moments of her history that I think defines her strength, courage, and loyalty.
Thirty-two years ago, my husband and I made the difficult decision to move from Louisiana to Georgia. Of course, that necessitated selling our house. The economy was dismal, resulting in a flat real estate market. My husband moved ahead, while I stayed behind with the children. After ten months apart, and no viable interest in the property, our optimism waned. It seemed rather bleak.
During that time, my sister-in-law was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. (And no, the irony is not lost on me.) She had undergone surgery and was in chemotherapy. But as I have learned through my own experience, such a diagnosis brings with it so much uncertainty and fear. It was a worrisome period for all of us.
My mother, who has always been a prayer warrior, proudly announced that she was “going to talk to God about our need for some miracles.” I smiled. I had witnessed her spiritual tenacity all of my life, so I wasn’t surprised when she produced an itinerary for a trip to Medugorje, Yugoslavia (now Bosnia). It was known at that time as a place of healing, where signs of a Divine presence and apparitions of the Mother of Jesus had been recorded. The faithful began to make pilgrimages to the small village surrounded by the peaceful beauty of the mountains. My mother was one of them.
For seven days, she woke at dawn and walked the rugged path to the summit of the mount. There she quietly sat, reflecting and praying, for hours, not just for our family, but for others as well. And the following week, when I picked her up at the airport, there was an inexplicable serenity about her. She had experienced something beautiful and life-changing.
Her first words to me were simple, but they lifted my spirits. “Rest assured,” she said, “your house will sell within six weeks. And Mary Lynn is cancer free.”
As she took my hand in hers, she gave me hope. But then, she had always encouraged and soothed me, even during the bleakest moments. It was what she did best. And indeed, six weeks to the day, we had a signed contract on our home, the timing of which was perfect since it enabled the kids and me to finish the school year. By the first of June, the moving truck was packed, and we were on our way to Georgia. My dear sister-in-law finished treatment and underwent several scans, along with a range of biopsies. She was declared to be in remission late that summer, and remained cancer free for a full eighteen years.
My mother’s faith was strong and unwavering. She knew that receiving begins with a humble request, a petition placed before The Lord in the hopes that it aligns with His will. She instilled many values in me, but perhaps the most important was that prayer changes things.
I talk to her often. Somehow, it eases the pain of missing her. In the still of the night, I ask her to pray for me. I figure that now that she is in her heavenly home, it is just a brief stroll down a street of gold to have a little chat with God. She certainly was a powerful intercessor while here on earth, one who truly believed in miracles. And so do I.
Somehow, I just know that she is planning angelic praise parties up there in paradise. Or polishing the Pearly Gates. I don’t doubt it for one minute.