I Remember Mama…

A Mother’s Day Bouquet © 2015 Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission

Dear Reader:  You will find this post to be a slight departure from my usual… It is a deeply personal tribute to my mom on this Mother’s Day weekend.  It seemed an especially fitting post since June 8 will mark ten years since her step into eternity.  And indeed, other than  Christ, I can think of no one who has more profoundly impacted my life than Mom.

© 2018 Lynn Abbott

Scampering into the house for a quick glass of water after school before I took my Kelly green, banana seat bicycle for a spin, I stopped cold in my tracks. Seated in the living room, a man who appeared to be “company” earnestly spoke with both my parents.

I knew it was serious because my father, who had physically collapsed earlier that year, rarely felt well enough to leave bed.

Eight weeks later, following the appearance of a real estate stake in our dichondra lawn, we waved goodbye to the Mayflower Moving Truck and my mother locked the front door for the last time. For me, it was simply an adventure, another of my parents’ fantastic road trips.

When my mother merged from the on-ramp onto the I-5, I smiled and waved at the truckers. It would be years before I understood the depth of my mother’s anxieties and the resulting sacrifices. But her life would shape a portrait of marriage and family that would define my own values forever.

As a 14-year- old, some years hence, I announced my intention of remaining single for life. It was not that I didn’t like “boys.” Or that I failed to appreciate a beautifully written, tragic romance like Bronte’s Jane Eyre.

No, it was simply because I understood too well the commitment that marriage and family require. I had observed my mother’s sacrifices and thus, possessed few storybook notions.

And I was ambitious. I wanted to make a difference in the world–to make my mark, so to speak. From my perspective, marriage and family made the pursuit of such dreams nearly impossible.

In fact, I could point to Scripture, to justify and support my views. After all, the apostle Paul had written in 1 Corinthians 7: 10, “Now to the unmarried and widows I say, it is good for them to stay unmarried as I am.”

Certainly, as a result of my mother’s commitment to the highest good for our entire family, we had successfully navigated a financial and medical tsunami. It had not been easy, and so, in my own limited way, I acknowledged this.

Her life would shape a portrait of marriage and family that would define my own values forever.

Immediately after that fateful move, we lived in government subsidized housing while Mom sought work, and my dad waited for the approval of his government disability retirement.

And even though it would have been a simple solution, Mom declined returning to her chosen scientific profession because that would indirectly place my father in contact with friends and former colleagues who were still able to pursue his scientific passion.

Yet, Mom did not discuss her decision with my father beforehand, nor did she ever allude to it afterward. She simply and quietly refused to rub salt in Dad’s wounds.

Instead, she accepted a position in a totally unrelated field, and applied all her self-discipline and intelligence to acquiring a new set of skills.

Many sacrifices, in fact, would be made. Working more than 40 hours each week, she continued to care for my father’s physical and medical needs, kept up with her home keeping responsibilities, and somehow managed to help her daughter with homework.

She turned what little energy she had left to maintaining as much normalcy in our lives as possible. Of course, Dad treaured Mom, and did everything in his power to help. He repaired all things electronic, and extended the life of appliances well beyond their life-time warranty.

On days when pain was less violent, he even cleaned bathrooms. It was an understood commitment to one another’s well-being that had been made years before when they launched their lifetime “for better or for worse.”

Sometimes, the “worse” could be pretty overwhelming. But most of the time, Mom’s courage and determination carried us through our struggle to simply survive.

I remember the day someone asked Mom, “Why do you stay?  You are still young.  You could yet make something of your life.”

She certainly had not signed up for this. When she first married Dad, he was a distinguished scientist on the international stage. They circulated with an impressive set of intellectuals.

But Dad’s illness had changed all that.

I looked at her, and waited for her response.

She simply smiled, and shook her head. For her, there was never even a question. Love had staying power, (1 John 3:18).

And despite some of the absurd situations that Dad’s health sometimes produced, Mom responded with grace and kindness.

Sometimes, the “worse” could be pretty overwhelming.

I particularly recall one such circumstance: we loaded our grocery cart with jars of Gerber’s baby food after my father had had a particularly bad spell. Gerber’s chicken and beef were all that his stomach could tolerate at the time.

When we reached the check out, the clerk raised his eyebrows, and flashed a wry smile.

“You must have an awfully hungry baby,” he observed.

Mom’s melodious laughter rang throughout the supermarket.

She simply grinned and said, “Yes.”

Nothing more.

I heard no complaint; no self-justification. As always, she protected the dignity of those she loved with her smile, and good-natured laugh.

In my mid-twenties, I put aside my previous objections and married; my husband and I relocated across the country far from Mom and Dad. I missed them, and found comfort in weekly phone calls, a habit my brother would also adopt in later years.

Dad’s health never improved; in fact, it steadily declined.

Then, Mom retired, and until Dad died, she devoted her days to making him comfortable…and to taking him on “Sunday drives” whenever possible.  In spite of Dad’s physical suffering, those were happy days for both Mom and Dad.

In her retirement, Mom also spent time with her granddaughters and grandson–always giving of herself as well as of her time and limited resources.

She did have a dream–to buy a luxury car for Sunday drives, but I knew that she would never own an expensive car.  After all, she generously gave her dream savings away to those she loved, to those in need and to Gospel ministries.

Again and again.

If it were possible, she loved too much—sacrificing her own dreams for the sake of those she loved.  Yet, during her final days with us, as I drove her to her chemotherapy appointments, she and I continued to observe and dream of driving a sleek, cruising car of the Mercedes, BMW, or Audi variety.

Yes, Mom still dreamed of the perfect Sunday drive.

When she died, her bank account was nearly depleted. She had given it all away to those she loved, or to others she found in need.

And she left an old Ford in the garage.

In the ten years since she died, I have often recalled a novel I read as a young teen. Bess Streeter Aldrich’s story, A Lantern in Her Hand, initially seemed to me to be a true tragedy, the tale of both life and talent wasted.

Aldrich’s protagonist, Abbie, chose love and life as a pioneer woman on the prairie instead of fame and fortune as a vocalist in New York City. Later, after confronting years of hardship and sacrifice, she attempted to dissuade her daughter from making a similar choice. But to no avail.

She  dreamed of buying a luxury car for Sunday drives, but I knew that she would never own an expensive car.

And in fact, despite life’s gusty winds, Abbie herself repeatedly chose love over her own comfort.  Abbie’s love flickered gently like “the lantern in her hand”…illuminating a safe and secure haven for her children.

As a teen, I found the conclusion of the novel extremely dissatisfying.  I wanted the heroine’s dreams to come true. I cried my way through the final pages of the novel. Yet, I now cherish the authenticity and raw beauty of the story. You see, my mother carried that same lantern…

She never preached a sermon; she never wrote a book; she did not return to “wow” the scientific world; she never bought that luxury car for Sunday drives. She did not “change” the world at large.

But she left a legacy of love: a son and a daughter who both miss their Mom–that “one-in-a-million” someone who listened for hours at a time, sacrificed for the benefit of others, and loved with every fiber of her being.

Her life shouted a message more powerful than any political speech or religious sermon I have ever heard, and I carry its poetry with me still.

In fact, I wish I could say I were more like Mom. Even so, I am grateful to have admired and loved a truly exceptional woman.

And from her life’s proclamation, I discovered what it means to demonstrate God’s love…

Love stands steadfast through life’s storms–both the thick and thin;

Love says, “You before me;”

Love never fails.

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own interests, but also for the interest of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus…”  Philippians 4:2-5

129 Replies to “I Remember Mama…”

    1. Yes! I loved her so dearly, but I appreciate her more and more the older I become! So grateful for her. Thank you for your extremely kind words about her, dearest Julie! You can’t imagine how very much that means to me!!

      And I LOVE it! Too bad we didn’t know each other then! What a pair we would have made: you, riding your bright yellow bike and me, riding my sparkly, emerald green machine (bike 😉 )! Such fun and mischief we would have made! 😀 Happy Mother’s Day, dear Julie!! ❤ ❤ and hugs!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re right Lynn—the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve appreciated Mom. From the lack of things she had as compared to her friends—the nice house, the nice car, the trips, etc. to the loneliness I often felt she had being married to Dad. Coupled by my brother’s mental dysfunction which made her life chaotic. And finally the cancer. The cancer was almost, from what I finally gleaned, was a release for her…her ticket out.
        I see that now and wish I could go back to my younger self and explain…but I suppose that’s what hindsight is all about.

        Yep, we could have had all sorts of mischief off on our bikes, racing around town!
        Happy Mother’s Day my friend

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      2. It sounds like your mom had a lot on her plate, dear Julie! And I think we all appreciate our loved ones more in hindsight…it’s just that life gets so in the way sometimes. Love you much, dear Julie! And Happy Belated Mother’s Day to you!! xo ❤

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      3. It has been a “week,” that’s for sure. But I’m making progress with all the “moving” that needs to be completed…when that’s done, I’ll definitely breathe a sigh of relief! Thank you for your thoughtfulness, dearest Julie! I’m sorry I haven’t had a chance to respond to your lovely email. Will write soon! Love you much! ❤

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    1. She’s with Jesus and so I know she is both smiling and laughing! I look forward to hearing her beautiful laugh ring through the heavenly halls! Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Amy!! Happy Mother’s Day to you! ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  1. That was beautiful and inspirational. How fortunate you were to have such a mother and father. For you received the best education, the education of life and of values that are lasting. They were exemplified for you as only one who was living them could do! She lives on in your writing and in the memories she leaves you and those who knew her. And now, we know her too!

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    1. Thank you with all my heart, Valerie! Yes, I was so bless to have such parents! Although life was difficult for all of us in terms of worldly challenges, my parents loved so deeply that I never thought of those challenges as difficult but rather as adventures and opportunities. Looking back now as an adult, I see what a beautiful gift that perspective was from my parents. I feel so blessed. And now I feel doubly blessed because I have been able to share Mom’s story with a lovely and godly friend–you! God bless you greatly! And Happy Mother’s Day! ❤ ❤

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  2. What a great tribute to your mom. My mother died 13 years ago the day after Mother’s Day. So well written, capturing her sacrifice. When someone interviewed Billy Graham, I forget who, he said that he thought there would be many humble fathers and mothers ahead of him in Heaven. Your mother may well be one of them.

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    1. Martha, you cannot imagine how much your kind and thoughtful comment means to me. In fact, my mom used to say that she would simply be happy to be in heaven… she didn’t expect any rewards. “After all,” she said, “I’m no Billy Graham.” And you have quoted Billy Graham here! Your comment couldn’t have been more meaningful! Thank you with all my heart! And by the way, I’m so very sorry for your loss… even though it has been 13 years since your mother passed away, I’m sure you still miss her as I miss my mom! Hugest of hugs! Happy Mother’s Day to you! ❤ ❤

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    1. Oh, how wonderful that we have both had such loving mothers! How very blessed we are! And I’m so glad that my mom’s story resonated with you! I feel as though I know your mom! And I pray that she is especially blessed this Mother’s Day! ❤ and hugs!!

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  3. That was so beautiful Lynn, thank you so much for sharing these memories. I look forward to meeting your mother one day, we’ll have plenty of time to meet in eternity. God bless you on Mothers Day. 🌹

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  4. Wow, Lynn! First, this is extremely moving and I cannot think of a better tribute. Your mother though not here, I can promise you has just impacted me with her legacy. Her love, kindness, self-control, and every other fruit she has exhibited immensely in the Holy Spirit. I want to cry from a mix of grief and joy with you. This woman has touched my heart, and I can see clearly why your heart is reflective. Christ is radiating in this story, and He showed His love through her. Thank you so much for sharing ❤

    I HAVE to share this on the community spotlight and I'm going to pin this post on my Christian bloggers board.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, TR… I cannot think of anything that would make me happier than that you should highlight my mom’s story. She was so humble, and did not believe that she had done much for God… yet, I believe she demonstrated what Mother Teresa said, ““Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” That was Mom. I’m so glad her story touched you. I wish you could have met her. Almost all who met her said she was their “best friend.” She truly knew how to love others. And she quietly brought many to Jesus… just as Andrew brought Peter to meet Jesus. And thank you for your encouragement. I felt God wished me to post this, but I also felt uncertain about doing so since it isn’t my usual devotional. I’m so thankful that it resonated. Love and huge hugs!! ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When God puts something on your heart to write, and you aren’t sure because it isn’t the usual I think that’s signal we need to write it and share. 🙂 She sounds amazing because of her love for others. I would have loved to talk to her. 🙂 But one day in Heaven I can have the opportunity to praise Him alongside her.

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      2. Yes, truly! And you would have loved her… she had such a quiet, warm gentleness about her and was a fabulous listener. Everyone loved her and most all considered her their best friend. She had that kind of effect on people. What a wonderful day it will be when we reunite with friends and family and meet new friends as well! What a beautiful thought! Thank you, TR!! Love and hugs!!

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  5. A solemn life story relived , an autobiography to cherish for a life time and I really feel sorry for both your mom & dad who had sacrificed so much and the pain she shouldered with a smile is really heartbreaking and I hope God would have given them more happiness in his adobe and God bless you !

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    1. Thank you for sharing your reaction to Mom’s story with me, Warren! It means the world to me. I hesitated to post this since it isn’t my usual devotional, but I decided that since God had delayed my posting this week until the night before our American celebration of mothers, that He had a reason that He wished me to post this. Tears welled up as I wrote the final paragraphs… I wondered if it were simply that I was missing mom. It’s nice to know that perhaps her life story impacts others as well. Anyway, all this to say, that God has used your kind, compassionate and encouraging words to cast off any residual doubt that I may have had as to His leading regarding this post! Thank you; thank you! God bless you greatly, my wonderful friend!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is such a lovely post, Lynn about the love of a mother. Thank you so much for sharing it. I like when you said, “Love stands steadfast through life’s storms–both the thick and thin;
    Love says, “You before me;”
    Love never fails.”

    I like this quote because that describes the love of God and how, even when we were going through storms; His love remains steadfast and humble.

    This reminds me of a song by Israel Houghton called, “One Thing Remains” and it’s a beautiful reminder of the love of our Father. The link to the song is below:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Joshua! And I LOVE that praise song! It has long been one of my favorites. Thank you for associating it with my post… I will always think of it now when I recall what Mom taught me about God’s love! Your words have truly blessed me! God bless you big time!

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  7. 1 John 3:16 “By this we know what love is: Jesus laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” Your Mom left a legacy that’s pretty hard to beat. Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, impossible to beat. Her passing left a huge hole in my life, Bruce. Thankfully, our Savior sympathizes with our weaknesses and has carried me and strengthened me over the last ten years. And although I still miss mom, I’m now mostly just grateful for all that she taught me… and thankful to have been loved by such a mom! I look forward to our future reunion! God bless you, my friend! And Happy Mother’s Day to your wonderful bride! 🙂

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  8. Your mum is alive. Her love did not die. I can touch it thru your words. It is rare to see a scientist ‘in love’. That makes your mother even more special. Jesus said: “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:12, 13). Love is heaven-looking-down’s command! Sacrifice is a choice. Its bloom never fades. The fruit of love never fails. Its sweetness changes appetites. We know that Jesus is the Hero of heaven! But I was shocked to discover that we must love in the same way, with the same passion and fire like Him! Love goes down to lift the fallen brother. Love chooses to be poor so that another sister becomes rich. Compassion is costly! These are not words to entertain! These are not sayings designed to purchase a little fame for just an hour! “By this we know what love is: Jesus laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone with earthly possessions sees his brother in need, but withholds his compassion from him, how can the love of God abide in him?” (1Jn 3:16, 17). “Lord, I want to be like Jesus, in my heart… In my heart… In my heart… Lord I want to be like Jesus, in my heart…” This is the song of true love coming closer, not just to visit your soul, but to embrace and abide!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you so much Lynn for introducing us to a most wonderful woman, your mother. One of uncommon character and depth of living and being. This glimpse also explains the depth and insight you bring to us in your art and writing.

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    1. Thank you, Gary, for your extremely kind and thoughtful words. Any insight I may have comes from God or from Christ through my mom. I am truly grateful to have had such a wonderful mom. God bless you, my amazingly talented friend! Your words have truly blessed me today! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Once more your beautiful words have touched my heart. The love of your Mom pours out through your words and her sacrifice is an inspiration. Thank you for sharing the story of an amazing women and you honor her memory with so much beauty and grace.Your messages are always touching and your love always pours out through them. Thank you for sharing, you truly are a blessing.

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    1. Thank you, my wonderful friend! It means the world to me that you should read my posts! There is nothing quite like a long-time friend! Your words and friendship mean a lot to me! And your thoughtful comment has truly blessed me today. And so, I pray that God blesses you big time, Tim!!

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  11. Lynn, this brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman. Her beauty shines through you.
    I remember reading Bess Streeter Aldrich books, too. However, they had slipped my memory until reading your blog.
    Thank you for sharing such a shining example of love, marriage, sacrifice and a life well lived!
    Blessings~

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  12. Wow, your mom’s life was so exemplary of the love of Christ! What a wonderful model you had—it’s no wonder you turned out as beautiful as you did, inside and out, Lynn, which shows clearly in your writing. Her godly influence is having ripple effects and touching so many people through you!💗

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    1. Oh, wow. What a beautiful thing to say, dear Mia! Thank you with ALL my heart. If I can be just a little like Mom, I will consider my life a success. Thank you; thank you! You have absolutely made my day. You are such a thoughtful and wonderful friend! Love and huge hugs!!

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  13. What a beautiful testimony to your mom, Lynn! And what an example of love and sacrifice she was! Not only for your family, but for us, too. Rather than complaining that roses have thorns, she chose to be grateful that thorns have roses. I’m sorry your dad had to go through so much. Love and hugs to you!

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  14. Thank you for sharing. Fiction contains more truth than nonfiction.

    Aldrich’s protagonist, Abbie, chose love and life as a pioneer woman on the prairie instead of fame and fortune as a vocalist in New York City. Later, after confronting years of hardship and sacrifice, she attempted to dissuade her daughter from making a similar choice. But to no avail.

    Hardship and sacrifice sometimes loom large, but the wisdom of love drives us to make what only seems the more difficult choice.

    My father was an amateur poet. As the world measures such things, he was not a great man. Still, he and mother (Mom held the family together. Often seems to work out that way.) left a legacy.

    When I give up this life for good
    I’ll need no marker made of wood
    No monument of polished stone
    My children are of flesh and bone
    Perhaps thru them some part of me
    Will live until eternity

    We can invest our lives in something or in those we love. I suspect your mother and father are now quite pleased with their choices (1 Corinthians 3:9-15).

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    1. Thank you with all my heart for nominating me for this wonderful award. I’m not currently accepting awards because my workload this year is so heavy that I am having trouble just keeping up with my regular blog posts… However, since I am so truly honored, I will bookmark your post just in case I have time later this year to write an acceptance post. Again, thank you with all my heart! You’re a wonderful friend. ❤ ❤

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      1. It’s no problem Lynn. I’m new to the whole blogging thing and as I did this last one I see the time it takes to do one. I did mean that I bet you’re like your mama!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww… thank you, dear Valerie! I feel so honored. However, I’m not currently accepting awards because this is a crazy year for me as far as work goes, and I’m currently struggling simply to keep up with my regular posts. But if I can get through the next several months’ workload, perhaps, I will post a “tardy”/delayed post for the Mystery Blogger award. 🙂 Again, thank you with all my heart! You are a gem! And congratulations, by the way, on receiving the award! ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome! I didn’t receive it…just the nomination. I figured you had been nominated many times, but I still wanted you to know that I really like your posts and they are inspirational to me!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you; thank you with all my heart, dear TR, for including me in your wonderful community spotlight! So many fantastic blog posts in your post and I’m truly honored that you included my post! ❤ ❤

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  15. Lynn, what a treasure you are!!! Such a wonderful, heartfelt and wonderful tribute to your Mom. I actually now feel like I know her. Such an amazing woman with a sweet spirit. I see where you got your sweetness, gentleness and tender heart from. God bless you my friend!!! Love you ❤️ 💗

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    1. Aww… you are soo good to me, dear Eunice! It is you who is the treasure!! And yes, Mom was an amazing lady. I only hope I resemble her in some small way! Thank you for your kind words! You have encouraged me so much more than you can possibly imagine. Have a beautiful weekend, my beautiful and godly friend! ❤ and hugest of hugs!!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. She did not “change” the world at large.

    Oh yes she did Lynn, your Mom is changing it right now through you, her Focus, her Values, her Heart of Love are now being reflected in you and you touch many lives with your Love and Compassion which yes is also very steadfast.

    Thank you for being You Lynn, a gift from God through your Mother to the World!

    Christian Love Always – Anne.

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