Filed under Motherhood Tributes
This year, I don’t honor my mother for how she has served those who come behind her; I honor her for serving those who have gone before her. My mother’s world changed dramatically last year. In one year, my parents flew back and forth to Las Vegas and New Orleans many times to attend to ill parents. In April of 2005, my mother’s mom died and just three days later my father’s dad died. Just four months later, the flood in New Orleans resulted in my parents taking in my grandmother Cannon as well as my severely mentally handicapped Aunt. My mother was to be the primary caregiver for both. Yet in a whirlwind of airplanes, memorial services, floods, and hospitals my mother stayed the course of humble servant-hood.
The day before my grandmother arrived I remember my mother looking shocked and numb. We were packing away her dining room in order to make room for two beds and a dresser. The table where we had so many Sunday dinners was disassembled. The beloved Turkey dishes for thanksgiving were put away. Every piece of silver and crystal wrapped in paper and put in the garage. My mom would tell you that she mourned the loss of part of her life that day.
My mother was weak, but this positioned her to receive power like I have never seen demonstrated in her life. My mom fed, clothed, bathed, and cared for my 54 year old aunt with the tenderness she had for her own babies. This was amazing to behold. To compare the fear and anxiety of the day before Aunt Cathy arrived to the grace that caused my mother to truly view it as a privilege to serve this way has affected more profoundly than my mother’s example in any other area. My mother says over and over that God did this. She takes no credit, and stands amazed at the grace in her life. Part of the means of that grace was her unwavering commitment to study God’s Word and pray, something my mother has faithfully modeled in every season of her life since her conversion.
Sadly, my aunt died just months later after succumbing to a battle with pneumonia. My grandmother moved back to New Orleans recently, but has decided she will eventually live in Maryland. Even as I type my mother sits in a hospital room in New Orleans caring for my grandmother as she recovers from back surgery. My mom doesn’t know how long she will be in New Orleans, but once again God is giving her power and strength to serve her mother-in-law.
My sister and I have always called my mother a steel magnolia. She is from the south, and her favorite tree is the magnolia tree. Magnolias are sprinkled throughout her house as a reminder of her southern heritage. They are reminders to me of my mother. In the midst of intense heat, she stays strong like a magnolia. The source of her strength is not the bloom itself, but the roots of faith that dig deep to reach the streams of living water that are her source of life.
I miss you mom. Thank you for your faithful example of humble servant-hood, perseverance, and pursuit of the means of grace. Truly words will always fall short for how much I love and respect you.
The Magnolia Tree
For my mom on Mother’s Day
The Magnolia tree in New Orleans
Lifted up her limbs
Toward the heat of summer sun
Drinking daylight in.
Never do the steel blooms wither
Never do they fade
Even through the fearful flood
Her blossoms show their grace.
Her source of beauty does not lie
Within her hearty flower
But the root that reaches
For deep waters is her power
So whether the day brings blessed rain
Or blazing summer heat
The steel magnolia thrives and drinks
From a Fountain hid beneath.
Such glory does the tree display
In blossom laden bower
Passersby can’t help admire
Strength with Beauty’s power.