Saturday, October 31, 2015

31 Days: My Mom

She opened the door to life for me, quite literally.

Through every season, she has encouraged me. I never once heard her say, You can't do that. Anything I set my mind to, she supported.

An early feminist - a quiet one, whose thoughts went more to simple justice and common-sense equality rather than bra-burning - my mom set an example for me that created wide open spaces for my future. Not one for protests or productions, mom simply went about living life as a strong, independent female.

This apple didn't fall far from that tree.

Her strength and willingness to do for others are her best characteristics, and I'd like to emulate both. But in the spirit of this series, to speak of my mom as a door holder means can be boiled down to one simple, one-syllable word.


The irony is intentional. It is, in living "grace, every day", that I most hope to honor my mother. And it is the best, most valuable gift she offers me (other than that whole she-gave-birth-to-me thing - also important).

My mom always speaks up for the underdog, the refugee. She is not afraid to push back against racism when she sees it. She leans to the left, but not because she blindly follows political parties - because the parts of being a 'liberal' that mean something to her always, always, always include compassion for the poor and those who were born into unfortunate circumstances.

My mom has an exquisite creative talent, expressed through working with fabric and stitches. When
Everyone waits for one of Mom's quilts....
my family examines our creative streak, we inevitably land on the extravagant, extroverted musical talent of my dad and his family. But this gift of color and shape and pattern - one that comes with a tangible result, quilted with love to drape your wedding bed or wrap your sleeping baby - this is the grace of my mother, quiet and unassuming.

My mom gives; she is generous to a fault. This quitting, this seamstress work that she does effortlessly? She refuses, always, to take payment of any sort. She determined that she creates and serves for free, or she will not do it all.

My mom serves, offering her time to her church and her community - yet not without balancing her own recognized need for quiet and recovery.

My mom saves - she is a wise steward, one who tithes faithfully and spends wisely.

When my kids were born, my mom slipped into the role of grandmother with aplomb. She has set the bar for me, in this area yet-to-be-explored. Constantly, consistently, she gave. Lavishly - gifts were showered, vacations and trips were arranged. My kids have been blessed with the tremendous outpouring of selfless service by the woman they know as 'Grandma' - the one who is paving the way for me to live that next season of my life, whenever it will happen.

Peggy Case and I are very different people; I have the mix of the brash, loud force that was my father and her creative, caring streak. The seasoning that shaped my personality and character was much different than what formed her. But because of her tremendous influence on my life - because what mother does not have the most powerful impact on her child? - I can literally say that any good thing that I am comes not from me, but from my Creator God.

And from my mom.

My brother - also shaped and formed by Peggy Case - sent me a text the other day,

We have really come to appreciate the way you parent your kids. We are fans. 

My heart swelled ten times its normal size in my chest. That's the kind of affirmation that carries weight; it settles into a place of great value, where I have invested my most potent energy and love. My role as a mother defines me; it formed me and refined me and gives me an underlying, constant, ever-thrumming joy in this life. And while my mother will be quick - too quick - to tell you that she fell short as a parent (don't we all?), when I consider the legacy of love in our bloodline, I think it's fairly easy to prove that she did a lot of things right. That affirmation from my brother lands right on my mothers' doorstep.

Mom held the door open for me to receive grace, every time I returned home having squandered her trust, broken her heart, disappointed her or given her another reason to worry. My mom literally opened the door of her home to take me in - along with five young kids - when I had nowhere else to go. She has propped open the door financially - whether it be with gifts or needed support. She has never, ever wavered in her belief that I was worthy of her love.

And in these days, in this uncharted territory of age and illness taking its toll on my dad, my mom continues to hold open the door of witness and testimony. It's not always pretty, but it's always true, and in this I know that the woman who gave me birth will continue to light darkened doorways for me.

At the time I need it most, I will always be able to find my mom's example.

It is fitting to end this series singing the praise of Peggy Case; she's the one who gave me the means to the melody.

Grateful, always, every day - and full of grace.

I love you, mom.

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