the Traveling Writing Room
After . . .
“The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun, Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood; For nothing now can ever come to any good.”
We celebrated my mother’s life on Saturday, October 19, 2019. I think my family and I did her proud. My brother spoke at her funeral, as did an old family friend, per my mom’s request. I wasn’t sure if my brother would make it through it, but he put on his preacher-face and did her proud. But, I know what it cost him. She was his mother; his heart and it broke as he spoke. The family friend captured her wit and spirit as he told of her work as a missionary along-side my dad.
One of my sons read her obituary. Another son led us in prayer. And, another son, put together a chorus of his brothers, a sister-in-law, and several of Mom’s great-grandchildren and sang her favorite song, “It Is Well with My Soul.” I guess you could say, we did the best we could in the only way we knew how.
As I promised Mom, I also said a few words. I read a section of a poem that is posted above. Beautiful but haunting words about the emotion of loss. But what W.H. Auden’s poem failed to express was the hope that faith gave death. I can truthfully say that the number one gift my mother gave me and my brother was the example of what a hope-filled life looked like.
Mom lost her own mother from Tuberculosis when she was only nine years old. Just the other day, Mom and I were laying on her bed talking. Her strength was leaving her by then, but we were still able to fit in a talk or two before she’d need to nap. She told me that after her mother died, she would get on her knees every night by her bed and began teaching herself how to pray. She knew God was out there somewhere and she was determined to find Him. About that time, an elderly couple touched by her loss, gave Mom her very first Bible, a New Testament they bought for her at a dime store. She added nightly Bible reading to her prayer lessons. Thus, began Mom’s eighty-plus year journey into faith and hope, and a belief that planet earth was just a jumping off point to Glory, the real deal.
That belief was passed to her children and we in turn have passed it on to ours and now ours have passed that faith on to theirs. My Mom’s time on earth was breathless, spirited, full of quick wit, and always, always full of hope. So, with all due respect, Mr. Auden, I think the stars need to stay put, the moon and sun should keep doing what they do, and the ocean’s tide should still flow. It's not that I don't miss her, or long to hold her hand one more time, or feel that fist-size hole in my heart. Because I do. Oh, how I do! It's just that Mom taught me better than to crawl back in bed and pull the covers over my head.
I come from a faith that was birthed on a nine-year-old child’s praying knees. I will continue, as best I can, what she started.
I love you, Mama. And, thank you.