I remember thinking that Mom would always be there. Even shortly after my Father’s funeral when without her knowledge I heard her praying in the darkness for God to just let her live long enough to finish raising her two boys, my brother John and me. My sister Karen had gotten married, moved away and had begun her family. I was 14, little brother was 10. Little could I bear to fathom that a short 10 years later she would be gone, as if God had answered her prayer to the letter.
Mom and Day met during World War II. Mom lived with her parents in Boston, Mass., and Dad, hailing from Hazard, Ky. was on temporary duty in Boston just before being shipped overseas to fight Hitler. In those days when a soldier went to war, they remained until the war was over. My father promised to return, and though battle had changed him in nearly every way, he returned and the two of them married.
Through the years I wondered why we lost our parents so early (Dad was 49 and Mom 53), and in those moments of grief, I wondered why that happens to some and not to others.
I remember my mother as a kind and gentle soul. I guess we do that in retrospect, forgetting about how tough she became when I announced to her that I was going to put my pig pen (yes, I thought I was a farmer) at a location near our water source. That kind and gentle woman somehow convinced me that if I attempted to follow through with that plan, I would face a fate much worse than death. I still believe to this day she could have made good on that promise. Yet, I remember how she made our home feel so warm and special on a meager budget, not only on holidays, but every day.
After the death of our father, being a teenage son just entering the age of rebellion, I went a bit crazy, giving Mom some headaches and heartaches that no mother deserves, but many as I discovered encounter. As if it were a miracle from above, I realized the woes of my ways in short order and began to try to make up for the heartache I caused. I began working the farm with my little brother (neither he nor I knew what we were doing but Mom funded it anyway), working various jobs off the farm (against my Mother’s wishes) and completed high school. As the years progressed, my brother did the same.
The cut from a knife hurts worse shortly after the injury and over time, although a scar remains, the pain lessens to the point that you can function and seldom remember the cut. That is how our Mother somehow orchestrated the 10 years following our father’s passing. She somehow figured out how to fill the empty places of our hearts with her love, wisdom and understanding. These are things you don’t learn from a text book.
In the 2017 movie entitled “The Shack” (which I highly recommend), I was quite uneasy that the person who portrayed God was female (yes, I confess, I had a streak of chauvinism in my soul). Later in the movie (trying not to be a spoiler if you haven’t seen it) my chauvinism was calmed by a simple explanation that sometimes you need a mother and sometimes you need a father. With that offering of wisdom, not only did I find peace with the movie, my streak bigotry and many questions from my childhood were answered. God is just that way.
Dad was a tough kind of “man’s man,” but apparently at that time of my life I needed to be influenced by Mom.
As a protector, that little 5-foot, 5-inch, 130-pound lady would chase down a badger if it were threatening one of her children. At the same time, she could make an injury go away with a kiss and a piece of her dessert, and everyone who knew her loved her.
Sometimes as part of my live shows I would jokingly ask, “How many people here tonight ever had a mother?” I found that some people would respond and raise their hands right away, others I found were not really paying attention and didn’t raise their hands, but I often wondered how many of those who didn’t raise their hands had made it through life without that kind, gentle, nurturing person to calm their fears, chase away the monsters in their nightmares, rock them and perhaps sing a lullaby for them until they fell asleep as a child. I believe that would be worse than losing my mother early.
I don’t like to celebrate my birthday because I have this idea that Mom did all the hard work…from my birth all the way through getting me raised, and all I did was just show up.
This Sunday is Mother’s Day. Moms are special. Treat her as such. If your Mother is still among us, God bless you. If she isn’t, God bless you, too. Either way, Mom is a colossal way God is showing you how much he loves you. Show Mom, and you’ll show God how much you can love Him right back.
Herb Day is a longtime local radio personality and singer-musician. You can email him at [email protected] and follow his work at www.HerbDayVoices.com.