Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Eighty-Fifth

Mom passed away six years ago today. I wrote this on December 18, 2010  which would have been her 85th birthday. Miss you, Mom.

My mother would have turned eighty-five years old today but her body gave out fifteen months ago. Her mind didn't make it that long as it fell prey to Alzheimer's. Her descent was rapid and heartbreaking...but that's not what I want to tell you about Mom. December 18, 1925 was a Friday and Calvin Coolidge was President. She was born at home on a peach farm in rural Arkansas, the second of what would be four children, each spaced at six year intervals. Her folks, Jord and Ruth McClure Chesshir, were natives of the small town of Nashville in Howard County and my mother grew up surrounded by countless cousins, many of whom lived on the same country road and most of whose families were also in the fruit business. She was not named for six months, simply referred to as The Baby, a fact that still tickles me. In her childhood pictures, she always has this very shy smile, almost a Mona Lisa-type expression. She met Dad, almost four years her junior, while attending a small Christian college in Searcy, Arkansas. Now, they seem like an odd match due to personality differences but in reality, they were as perfect a couple as I have known.

They moved around, my mother and father. From their married beginnings in Arkansas, they migrated to Brooklyn, relocated to Nebraska, spent a year in California, came back to Nebraska, headed southwest to Texas, and ended up finally in St. Louis. Dad was a minister turned professor turned marriage counselor. Mom taught elementary school for a number of years but she wore so many hats. She was a Cub Scout Den Mother, a preacher's wife, the mother of three biological and two foster kids, a noted speaker, the mentor of the unsure, and the friend of the downtrodden. She was a great cook and played hostess with grace even when she financially was playing with limited resources. She would read the Bible for hours- I have her last one sitting by my bed. Its inscription reads:
Presented to: Nelda, my best friend and beloved companion
By: Roger
On: Christmas, 1987
She lived her life by that Book and taught us to do the same. We could make her cry. I remember causing tears twice after I had reached legal maturity but still have no logical explanation why she was upset the second time, an event which swirled around a food processor. It might be due to the fact that there is no logical explanation why a mother would love her child so desperately that the most unintended wounding could cut so deep. The Lord gave us mothers and gave them the capacity to devote their existence to their families, often to their own detriment. I don't remember Mom having new clothes when we were little; she scrimped so we could get by. In Revelation 19:8, we're told that the white linen worn in heaven stands for the righteous acts of the saints. I'm sure Mom now has a closet full of the most beautiful dresses. We watched her sewing them every day of her life down here. Happy Birthday, Mom. We miss you.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Most of all the other beautiful things in life come by twos and threes by dozens and hundreds. Plenty of roses, stars, sunsets, rainbows, brothers, and sisters, aunts and cousins, but only one mother in the whole world."
Kate Douglas Wiggin

God bless,
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com


Lisa said...

A beautiful tribute to your Mum!

God Bless you...


RottenMom said...

This is so very beautiful. I got chills reading it, the love you have for your Mother is so evident in your writing.

Connie Arnold said...

Thank you for sharing these lovely thoughts about your mother, Steve. Blessings to you!

gayle said...

That was a very beautiful post!

Tracy's corner said...

What a lovely post. Proverbs 31 verse 28 Her children arise and call her blessed

Vicki N said...

Steve, this is a beautiful tribute to your mom. I can remember that she always had a way of making things that seemed like a crisis, less important. There were many mean, rude kids in my class at Willard, and she had a way of keeping the playing field level for us all. I felt safe in her classroom and lucky and thankful to have had her as a teacher. She created an environment of equality among us that made being at school a great place! I found a picture of our fifth grade class a few months ago when we had raised money for a charity in our Weekly Reader. We sent a picture my dad took to the magazine with our "thermometer" showing how much we had raised. She was standing there with that smile you described. I melted when I saw it. I agree that she is wearing the beautiful white robes in Heaven. I strive to provide that same school environment to my students. I hope I can live up to the standards she helped us set for ourselves so many years ago. What a lucky man you are to have had her for a mother. Bless you for writing! Vicki

p.s. If I can find that picture, I will scan it for you and send it.