Wednesday, May 12, 2010

on being a mother.

We have seen many changes these last 50 years and motherhood is one that has taken a huge blow from our culture. Yet, there are principles of living that are not truly affected by time. It may seem so, but a car for instance, will always have the function of taking us from Point A to Point B. The colors, styles, and all the outward appearances may make us oooh and ahhh but under the hood there is still an engine that takes the same gas that cars needed 60 years ago.

Elisabeth Elliot is near 90 years old and lives on the New England coast. She is a model of womanhood and motherhood. Here is an excerpt from one of her writings about her own mother:

Title: My Mother

She was Kath to her close friends, Dearie to my father, and always Mother (never Mom) to her six children. She held us on her lap when we were small and rocked us, sang to us, and told us stories. We begged for the ones about "when you were a little girl."...

Mother's course was finished on February 7, 1987. She was up and dressed as usual in the morning at the Quarryville Presbyterian Home in Pennsylvania, made it to lunch with the help of her walker, lay down afterwards, having remarked rather matter-of-factly to someone that she knew she was dying, and wondered where her husband was. Later in the afternoon cardiac arrest took her, very quietly.

Each of us took a few minutes at the funeral to speak of some aspect of Mother's character. Phil spoke of her consistency and unfailing availability as a mother; of her love for Dad ("He was always my lover," she said). I recalled how she used to mop her eyes at the table, laughing till she cried at some of my father's bizarre descriptions, or even at his oft-told jokes; how she was obedient to the New Testament pattern of godly womanhood, including hospitality. 

Dave talked about her unreserved surrender to the Lord... of how, when we lefthome, she followed us not only with prayer but, for forty years with hardly a break, with a weekly letter. Ginny told how Mother's example taught her what it means to be a lady; how to discipline herself, her children, her home. Tom remembered the books she read to us (A.A. Milne,Beatrix Potter, Sir Knight of the Splendid Way, for example), and the songs she sang as she rocked each of us little children ("Safe in the Arms of Jesus," "Go Tell Aunt Nancy"), shaping our vision of life.

The last three years were sorrowful ones for all of us. Arterio-sclerosis had done its work in her mind and she was confused and lonely ("Why hasn't Dad been to see me?" "He's been with the Lord for 23 years, Mother." "Nobody told me!") Still a lady, she tried to be neatly groomed, always offered a chair to those who came. She had not lost her humor, her almost unbeatable skill at Scrabble, her ability to play the piano, sing hymns,and remember her children. But she wanted us to pray that the Lord would let her go Home, so we did. 

The funeral ended with the six of us singing "The Strife is O'er," then all family members, including our beloved aunts Alice and Anne Howard, sang "To God Be the Glory." The graveside service closed with the Doxology (the one with Alleluias). We think of her now, loving us with an even greater love, her poor frail mortality left behind, her eyes beholding the King in His beauty. "If you knew what God knows about death," wrote George MacDonald, "you would clap your listless hands."

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