I have a few notes that my mother left behind that, at first glance, might not seem all that important: a hand-written list of foods she was going to prepare for a family holiday tucked among the pages of a church cookbook, and a thin strip of paper peeking out from the leaves of her Bible notating the Scripture she was contemplating on a particular day. I even discovered a page inked with a manual typewriter’s strokes of her fingers in casual practice of the keys on the keyboard along with the letters which spelled out her name again and again.
Running my fingers along her cursive and typed simple legacy, I am reminded of the final days of my quiet, unassuming mother who was more comfortable following a step behind than taking a step in the lead. However, she was strong in her faith in the Lord. Her final days included a heart attack, heart surgery, a stroke, and the day she died at the age of 76.
However, before my mother’s death, there had been three years of final days. Final days since Dad had told his last family story which ended in his unrestrained laughter, had done his last “tinkering,” had last called Mom his “sweet little thing,” had last raised his unmistakable high-pitched tenor voice in song or in an affirmative “AMEN!” and the final time of many when Dad had asked if someone were “saved.”
Those three years, without Dad, stripped Mom of the personal freedom of mobility outside the home as she had never learned to drive. She relied on me, one of her sisters, and a close cousin to get her where she needed or wanted to go. For my part, I never felt put out in doing what I could for my mother for she exemplified the beauty of Christ’s love, sharing her life with Dad for 56 years, and nurturing her two children and six grandchildren with a gentle, always prayerful spirit. After Dad died, Mom said to me, “We’ve got a long, hard road ahead.”
When my mother left us, we grieved for ourselves, but celebrated for her. Here is the verse I wrote thinking about that road that she and I travelled together after Dad’s death. It was the path which led Mom to Heaven with our Lord. I first shared it in the eulogy I gave at her funeral. Now I share it with you to exalt the mercy and grace of God through Jesus Christ which leads to salvation and life everlasting for all who believe, just as my mother believed:
We saw a long, hard road ahead
But little did we know
That through death’s shadows you’d be led
While walking down that road.
Still we never doubted God’s great grace
Or the power of His hand
As he reached to pull you to His face
To celebrate in the Promised Land
To celebrate in the Promised Land . . .
By Connie Carlisle Polley, 2018