My mom passed away on August 21, 2015 and her birthday is tomorrow (November 13). Mom would have been 73 yrs old tomorrow. Happy Birthday Mom- I love you and miss you. I can’t wait to see you again and to hear your voice.
My mom and dad didn’t have a lot of things. When I was small, my parents and grandparents did their best to shield us from the effects of growing up in hard times. While we knew things weren’t easy, mom always found a way to put food on the table and clothed us.
For me, growing up in that little one room house in Grovertown, Indiana was the highlight of my childhood. It was then that I felt I could be who I was. We lived with my grandparents off and on and we never got the idea that we were missing out on things. I can still picture walking up to the house where there was a pile of coal to the left of the house. There was no power and there was no running water. By all accounts the house was a shack. As I walked into the house there was a table with a couple chairs, with my grandma sitting there. She had her combat boots on, overalls and a cigar hanging from her mouth. The most important thing I remember about her is that she also had her Bible opened to whatever it was that she was studying.
She had a little room with a dirt floor that sat behind a curtain. It’s funny when I think about what I remember most. Since we had no power, running water and so on, we also never had indoor plumbing. If we had to go to the bathroom, we had to walk to the back of the property, which was 5 acres and we had to be sure to not get to close to where the chickens and geese were. If you have never had chickens, roosters and geese, let me tell you, they can be mean. My grandparents would let us kids take turns picking out the chickens we would have for dinner. I always made sure to choose the meanest ones and the ones that would chase me down. I loved loved loved being the next one to choose who will have their heads chopped off. I know it sounds barbaric, but I looked forward to cooking that rooster or chicken.
I don’t know if many will remember what commodities are, but when times were hard and there was nothing to eat, my mom and grandma would get their monthly box of commodities. In the box there was corn meal, cheese, powdered milk, canned meat and not sure what else there was. Once in a while I would go with my mom and grandma to get food assistance and it was something we looked forward to each month and was thankful for. There were very long lines and it would take hours to get to the front of the line. My grandma and mom would always tell us how lucky and blessed we were because not everyone had the luxury of having food on the table or clothes on their backs.
With Thanksgiving coming up and thinking about what would have been my moms 73rd birthday tomorrow, I have been thinking about how much we did have. Maybe not in the same way many had, but we had what we needed, even if it was soup made out of rice and cabbage. There was one Christmas when my mom knew she wasn’t going to have money for us to even get a coat for the winter. She and grandma arranged with the Salvation Army to get us signed up to get new coats. If you have ever lived in Indiana or experienced blizzards, you would know that you need to have a coat. Even when we didn’t, we wouldn’t make a big deal. I wonder if that is to save face or something else.
Since my grandparents had no heat and there was only the wood/coal burning stove to heat up the place, it sure was nice having a coat in addition to down feather mattresses that we could keep warm by the stove. My grandma Grace would have given the shirt off her back and done without if she knew that any of us kids were going to suffer. As I remember her prayers as she layed in her bed and sat at her table, I began to see how much she gave. Maybe not money since she had nothing. She gave us everything she had. I should add that whoever was the last person in bed was the one who had to go outside to get coal. If the fire went out, we would have literally frozen to death. Since there was only so much room on the bed that was more like sleeping bags in front of the stove, she would let one of us sleep with her. There was no heat by her bed. She literally had about 5 heavy blankets on her bed, just to keep us warm.
My Grandma Grace is the one person I can say that really opened my eyes up to how important it is to have faith in God and to really get to know Jesus Christ. She would sit at her table with the peanut butter can and a slice of bread while sharing the stories in the Bible. Without a doubt, I have my grandma to thank and so many others along the way for where I am today. Grandma would tell me that when I trust in God, He will take care of everything. He will put the right people in our lives when we need them the most. My grandma knew my mom was not a person of faith. In the last 6 months of her life, that changed though. Grandma was right though. God put people like Pastor Harry Myers, Christian friends, family and strangers along the way in my life.
I think about a few verses when I remember my grandma and about being thankful. Here are a couple of them:
- Colossians 3:15-17. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
As I think about my moms passing and her first birthday in heaven, I can honestly say that it is never easy loosing someone that you love. Just a couple weeks ago, I lost another friend to cancer that has been a life time friend of our families. My mom told me a couple years ago while I was visiting her that there were times she would have to beg her employer for food so she could feed us. Many times all we had was mush for all of our meals since that was all she could afford. She held my hand that day and apologized profusely because she couldn’t do more. She was trying to make amends the best she could. The look on her face was on filled with guilt and pain. She knew she wasn’t the best mom, but I told her that she did the best she could given the situation and that I loved her and so did God.
I want to just add that while we may not have had the best or the most. I can say that I work very hard at being thankful for all things. Even when I can’t see the positive, I think of my mom and my grandma. Some people have asked me how I can be positive when it comes to my health problems, diagnosis and prognosis. I say that it is pretty easy when I put my life and faith in God. I have chosen to adopt an “attitude of gratitude: as a lifelong permanent state of mind. Even as my grandma was fighting diabetes and had her legs amputated and died, she always put her faith in God and she rejoiced in knowing that this life is temporary.
My life experiences, my mom and grandma has taught me that my attitude plays a larger role when it comes to determining if I am going to be grateful or am I going to spend my time complaining about things I can’t change. The last year of my moms life was a roller-coaster ride. She did profess to believe in Jesus Christ and she was baptized before she passed away. But I can’t help but wonder how joyful her life would have been if she would have had the hope and joy of the Lord in her life a long time ago. I personally feel that I can be grateful in spite of all the problems that life on earth gives us. I have chosen to perceive things in a way that helps build my faith in God and to help others. It doesn’t do me or anyone else any good to grumble all the time. I do have my moments, but I try to refrain from them. My moms life taught me that I need to see the positive sides life’s hassles. Instead of getting down and letting things get the best of me, I give it to God and I redirect my thoughts.
As I have been flipping through Facebook pictures from when I was younger and of my mom, I am reminded of how my grandma and mom were instrumental in my life. Things weren’t always rosy. But, in those hard times God reminded me that He is there for me. God gave me the opportunity to talk to my mom about what He has done in my life and that God loves my mom. I was blessed because I was able to pass on the message that my Grandma Grace gave me so many years ago as she sat at her table with her Bible opened to pages that were thin and falling apart. All of these things I am grateful for. These life lessons have stuck with me in all things I do. People will be sharing what they are thankful for in the next coming weeks and we should be thankful in all things. My greatest moments in my life are those times when I have been rewarded by the generosity of others, which in turn has helped me be generous to others.
There has been some difficult times in our country, church and world. With all of the bitterness and ungrateful thoughts it is refreshing to hear messages of thanksgiving. There is something awesome when people share their messages of what they are grateful for. As I remember my mom and how she lost her battle with cancer, it doesn’t have to be a moment of anger, sadness or bitterness. While she is no longer here in the physical sense, she is still here in my heart and mind. One day there will be an awesome reunion. My grandma and mom has made a difference in the world and I will always carry their memories in the warmest of places.