I Call Her Mum

Posted by Linda Handzel | May 17, 2017

This picture was taken when my Mother and Father Renewed their Vows.

“Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.”
Prov. 31:29

My mother was nineteen years old the first time that we met, but I don’t remember the events of that day. (By the time Mum turned twenty-one she had already given birth to three children, and fifty-nine years later she is still married to our Dad.) At first Mum spent most of our time together trying to stop the screaming...mine, not hers. Finally, after fifteen months she desperately argued with the doctor, telling him I was allergic to the formula they were giving me. He relented, and I stopped screaming. That screaming was probably what brought about Mum's residual hearing loss. 

I had a lot of food allergies, making it necessary for Mum to cook special foods for me, but she never acted like I was a bother. Instead she said I was her Princess, the Baby-Doll she had always wanted. Occasionally I got sick because of this or that food I was allergic to, and after I had emptied my stomach into the toilet she would pull me up onto her lap and rock me. I still remember her lap covered with an apron and the soothing warmth of her care.


She tucked me in every single night and prayed with me. I never once questioned her love because her love surrounded me daily. Sometimes she would look me in the eye and say so seriously: "You do know I love you, don't you?" I was always surprised by that question. I would sooner question if the sun would be rising tomorrow than question her love for me. She told me years later that although she had been aware of her own mother's love for her, it hadn't been expressed verbally very often. Mum wanted me to know and hear of her love for me.


Thunderstorms were a big deal when we were small. Mum would take us from window to window watching the storm, exclaiming about the beauty of the lightening and the wonder of wind and rain. When I was a teenager I discovered that Mum was afraid of thunderstorms. She watched the storms with us while ignoring her own fear so we wouldn't grow up to be afraid of storms.


Younger Than Most


Mum quit school to marry our Dad when she was fifteen years old. In public school all my teachers exclaimed to me how young my mother was, but she didn't look young to me, she looked like Mum.


When we were teenagers she announced she was going to get her GED. It had never occurred to me that Mum didn't have a high school diploma. I still remember how proud of her I was when she passed all the tests. Cool! My Mom got her GED! I didn't question if she would be able to pass, because she had always been smart to me. Sometimes she still says she's not smart, and that bothers me tremendously. Of course she's smart, she's my Mom! Besides, think of all the things she has taught me: She taught me how to cook, clean, sew and iron, and later she taught me how to do most of the bookkeeping for the service station that my Dad owned. Any mother could have taught me those things but God handpicked HER to be my teacher, and more importantly, my example.


Godly Example


Mum always made God a priority at home. Dad worked long, hard, dedicated hours building a family business, but Mum was almost always home. Every afternoon when we got off the school bus Mum would stop everything she was doing and sit down at the table to listen while we told her everything that had happened in the course of our day. If a girl cried, or a boy got in a fight we told her all about it. She listened intently, providing milk and cookies to snack on as we related our days' activities. When we were finished talking, she would get out the Bible and we would read it together. Then we pulled out the kitchen chairs and knelt in front of them, taking turns praying out loud. When it was Mum's turn to pray, she made sure to pray for the girl or boy we had mentioned. This made a huge impression on me! Mum was listening when we talked, and she cared about what we said.


Sometimes I would walk into the living room and find Mum kneeling beside the couch praying quietly and I heard her bring my name before the Throne of God. I was so important to Mum that she talked to God about me.

Stalwart Faith


There has never been any question about Mum's faith in God. But never has it seemed more stalwart, more resolute than the last sixteen years of our life. In the midst of tragedy and heartbreak, Mum's faith has strengthened more. She has been a brick wall of support in times of great storm. My brother's wife, Lori was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999. Despite aggressive treatments and thousands of prayers, God took Lori home in 2001, leaving behind a ten year old son and a six year old daughter. It broke Mum's heart to see her son suffer, yet in the midst of heartache and sorrow she never once questioned God. Instead she prayed like a warrior for her family.


Three years later there was a terrible hunting tragedy in our family. As a result, this same brother of mine who had lost his wife also lost his best friend, Jimmy. This time shock and horror mingled with our tears and sorrow. Mum said God had a plan and there was a reason. Jimmy's burial plot was so close to Lori's grave that we had to circle Lori's grave in order to bury Jimmy. The cold, misty weather wrapped us in gloom while tears of pain poured unchecked from our broken hearts and swollen eyes. It was unthinkable that we were standing by the open grave of a twenty-two year old man who had only been married for five months. Later in her kitchen Mum was as strong as a rock while I buried my head in her shoulder and sobbed uncontrollably over the tragic loss of our cousin. Mum's presence and her warm, caring hugs gave me immeasurable comfort that day.


Two years later Dad had a catastrophic heart attack. Things didn't go well and suddenly Dad was in a coma, staying that way for five days. While Dad's life hung between heaven and earth Mum cried, but she never questioned. We quietly waited to see what God would do. Again many people prayed and Dad recovered.


My Encourager


Then nine years ago, another one of Mum and Dad's three children lost a spouse. I was that child and I lost my husband in a split second, without warning. Again, no questions were asked of God. By this time the example of Mum's faith was planted deep in my heart. She has never questioned, and neither have I. But I don't know how I would have made it this far without Mum. That first summer I called her every morning at 6:30. She knew I would be calling, and she always answered. We didn't plan it that way, it just happened. Every morning I cried, talked, reasoned, feared, and wondered aloud how I would ever run the house and emotionally support four children without my husband of twenty-four years. She listened, encouraged, advised, and loved me. Above all, I know she prayed. She told me all the time she was praying, and I believed her. To this day she signs her e-mails to me "Love & Prayers, Mum".


Two years after my husband was killed my older brother Floyd was diagnosed with incurable cancer and was told he had less than five years to live. Our family prayed and believed for his healing here on earth, and Floyd did very well for a long time. But last October God quietly swept Floyd up into His arms and took him home to Heaven.


Mum has watched each of her children go through unspeakable pain and loss in different ways, yet she has continued to trust in the Love of God. Her faith has been an amazing example not only to her children, but also to her grandchildren.


My Mum is a very smart woman! She knows where the true source of strength and courage is and she goes there daily. George Washington said: "All I am, I owe to my mother." I join him in that sentiment.


So today my words celebrating my mother come from the depths of my being. My mother is my very best friend. When my children don't want me to tell a secret that they have shared with me, I know they are serious when they say: "And don't even tell your Mother!"


Happy Birthday Mum, I'm so thankful for every moment I have known you and your faith, and I look forward to many more to come.

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