Monday, March 8, 2010

International Women's Day

In honour of International Women's Day, I am posting the tribute that I wrote about my mother, shortly after she passed away last spring. Let me tell you about her.

Throughout her 95 years, there were three loves that came to define the life of our mother. My two brothers and I became aware of them while we were still quite young. The most important love in her life was her love for God. I have often told the story of how I came to understand that as a little girl.

My parents were the corps officers (pastors) of The Salvation Army Edmonton Temple corps (church). Every Sunday night before the evening service (called the salvation meeting) in those days, the faithful gathered for prayer. I think it must have been that there was nobody to look after us, so we accompanied our parents to the prayer meeting. I recall one Sunday evening, hearing my mother pray with great fervency for one of the men who attended the services sometimes, but had not yet made a decision to accept Christ as the Lord of his life. As I opened my eyes, somewhat mystified by the intensity in her voice, I was amazed to see the tears falling as my mother prayed for this individual. I began to understand how important it was to her for people to enter into a relationship with the Lord, whom she obviously loved so much.

My adult children told me a story that they heard from their Grandpa one evening, as the family began to gather around my mother, sensing the end was near. They saw a faraway look in his eyes, and asked, “What are you thinking about, Grandpa?”

He responded with a story that dated back about seventy years. He told of my Mother living in a little town called Hant’s Harbour on Trinity Bay in Newfoundland and how he lived in another town on the same bay called Winterton. They had begun going out together and he planned to travel that Saturday from Winterton to Hant’s Harbour along the coast in a sailing boat. All day long Mom went from window to window, inside the house constantly glancing toward the head of the cove to see if the boat was in sight. Then finally as the sail came into view, she beamed with joy at his arrival. That was so much a picture of their relationship. They loved being together and for sixty-six years they treasured their relationship as husband and wife. There was never any doubt in the minds of us at their children that the one woman above all others that Dad wanted to be with was Mom and the one man around whom her world revolved was Dad. What a wonderful security that provided for us as we grew up in their home.

The third great love of my Mom was her children and grandchildren. Each of them had their own special place in her heart and in her prayers. As I talked with my brothers after Mom’s passing about what I should choose to talk about in my tribute to Mom, my brother, Donald shared with me an experience I understood so well. He told me about spending some time with Mom last year when he was visiting here from France, where he lives. He had an opportunity to ask her if she still spent time praying for his children. When she assured him she did, he felt that it really did not matter what else she could do. Her blindness and physical frailty did not define her. It was her prayers that really counted.

Not knowing about this conversation, about six months ago, I too was visiting my parents and had some time alone with Mom. I was particularly concerned about my children at the time and I asked the same question, “Mom, do you still pray for my kids?” Her assurance that she continued to do so was a great reassurance to me. Their was no better way I knew for her to show her love for me and for my children.

These were the three loves of my mother and she refused to allow the experiences of her life to diminish them. When nearly thirty years ago, she lost her sight, she did not stop loving God. She found new ways of cooperating with Him to help to bring His love to others with an enriched prayer life.

One of the notes that I received this week told me a story I had never heard. The person recounted to me how my mother was leading a women’s conference, just after she had received the news that nothing could be done to improve her sight and it was only going to deteriorate. That morning the women sang,

“Pilot of souls, I trust Thy guiding hand;

Take thou the helm, and at they blest command,

I sail straight on until, the harbour won,

I reach the glory of they sweet well done.

O man of Galilee!”

Holding tightly to His hand she walked, trusting Him when she could not see from that day until Friday, April 24th, when she opened her eyes and saw His loving face, leaving us with the assurance that our love for one another can be nourished from the same source.

PS: My daughter has written a song about the incident her grandfather shared with her.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have to say Eleanor that as I read your thoughts on Aunt Betty I wander back to my own childhood days of when her and Uncle Arthur would come to visit us during the summer. It was so exciting because us growing up as young children did not live geographically close to any of our family (my father, being a teacher, moved to a different town and settled there so I always only had my immediate family at arms length)

The one thing that always stood out to me was their love and committment to one another, and the genuine kindness they emitted from them and was felt by all of those in their presence. I felt proud to have such special people in my family.

Thank you for sharing those moments with me when distance is still a factor to be physically close to those that I love very much.