August 26, 2011

A Good-Bye Letter to MOM

(A much longer post than usual)


A Good-bye Letter to Mom

Dear Mom,

I just wanted to write you a letter to say thank you for all that you were to me.
You were amazing and I miss you so much already, even though only 2 months have passed.

Your life gave me life. I was an infant conceived in your womb, carried lovingly by you for 9 months and brought into the world with great pain and joy by you.
You cuddled me, nursed me, changed me, rocked me to sleep.
You cooed with me and gently encouraged me to take my first steps.
You sang over me, prayed over me and laughed over me.
Your love was the strong foundation that my life was launched upon.
Thank you for your love and your tender care.

You loved me in the midst of your own pain and suffering as you watched the love of your life slowly die in front of your eyes. My first two years of starting life were being celebrated even as you were living the last two years of daddy’s life. You were a strong woman for sure.

I couldn’t conceive of what it meant to lose my daddy but you carried me through what I did not know I was living through. You held me over the casket and I blew on daddy’s face in an effort to awaken him. Yet, he did not get up...but you had to get up the next day and the next and the next to care for a young toddler who was learning to trust, learning to speak, learning to live.

Thank you for the effort you put into me at a time when you felt like you wanted to die yourself.
Many times you probably wanted to just lie down and stay there for a week but little Larry was too active to let you do so. Thanks for getting up and building into my young life.

Your prayers over me and your insistent effort to teach me to pray before every meal and before I went to bed, still have impact upon me today 52 years later. Your prayers changed me in ways I won’t even know of until heaven. Your prayers were always sincere and filled with faith. You were never an exhibitionist in prayer but you prayed simply, earnestly, and perseveringly.

You are probably the reason I fly all over the world and adventure into the remote places to share the gospel of Jesus. Taking me on a trip to Africa when I was only four was a huge undertaking for a young single mom. I might not remember too much of that trip but it planted something in me that not only lived on, but grew and now is bearing fruit in the Philippines, Ethiopia, Kenya, Indonesia, India, etc.

You modeled a love for education and love for hard work...when I was only five you left the familiar, the life of comfort and off you went to graduate school in Anderson Indiana to get a teaching credential...that year was a great adventure for our little family of 3. I would see you typing papers late into the night....reading, learning, writing....these became my passion as well and its you that I have to blame for having insatiable appetite to keep learning...now I am thinking of a second doctorate...a Ph.d in Global Leadership. Thank you for passing on this love.

You were the consummate teacher...whether in the fifth grade classroom at school or in the Sunday School classroom or in the youth group or in the Choir...or in VBS...you were always teaching, sharing, helping others develop and you passed that on to me as well. I love to stand in front of a group and share something that will help them reach higher.  

Your love for the church of Jesus is one of the greatest treasures that I imbibed from you. Every time the doors were open to the First Church of God in Hugoton Kansas...we were there. We were front row. We were involved. You were leading something. You were volunteering for something. You were championing some new cause at the church.  You saw the church in both her beauty and brokenness, but you emphasized the beauty of His bride. I love the church largely because you loved the church.

When you married my step-dad you took a big step that I didn’t fully understand at age almost 11. I liked dad, but I had been your only man and it was an adjustment for me. I had no idea about the joy or the pain that that relationship would bring to your life. I rejoiced that you had a companion...and was happy to have a dad in my life...even though he was stumbling forward in that role.

I watched you live and love out of a commitment to your marriage vows. There were some tough times in that relationship but you were like a bulldog who refused to let go of that which you were devoted to. In the last years of your life it was a great joy to see the way in which dad cared for you in the midst of your cancer. I learned that even the best intentioned relationship, even with Christians, can face uphill times, and that the climb is always worth the effort. I believe my marriage is better and stronger because of what I saw in you.

You were always my cheerleader, my number one fan, the one who believed I could do great things. You weren’t the kind of mom to brag all over town about your kid....but when the other person brought it up, you were happy to say the “Amen!” You never pushed, but always offered to help me try new things...you were there to help me build a car for the Cub Scouts Pinewood Derby...I was the only kid who didn’t have a dad helping them...we built a cool car but it was pretty slow! You were there to help me with my first public talk ever...a 4H presentation on “The Care of Your Hare”...a riveting speech about taking care of rabbits (we had 30 of them at the time)....you were there when I decided to do Competitive Swimming and was the slowest guy in my age division...I wanted to quit before the season was over but you wouldn’t let me. You were there when I decided to ride bulls (steers actually) in the Little Britches Rodeo...that lasted only a few seconds.

You were at every game I played in football and basketball and every track meet. You were there cheering me forward, never expecting me to win but always expecting me to do my very very best. And when I started to win and set new track records in the quarter mile...you were beaming with pride while telling me not to get full of pride.

You were my campaign manager when I ran for President of the State Youth Group and we won that campaign with the motto “Walk a Mile for Walkemeyer”. We were big time then.

You would cringe when ever I told you I was off on another grand adventure (camping trip to the draw, backpacking trip to the Rockies, riding my bike 350 miles to Denver, road tripping to Indiana when only 15, off to Explo 72 in Dallas when only an 8th grader, motorcycle-ing to Two Buttes, flying a Cessna to pick up my prom date in Colorado, etc.) but then you would offer advice, warnings, and prayers. You gave me freedom...probably too much freedom, but what a great time I had because of your belief in me.

I was a rambunctious but good kid...your morals were ingrained in me...you taught me not just the rules, but the reasons behind the rules and you pointed out to me the pain in the lives of those who violated them. I never really wanted to be like the crowd even though I wanted to be liked by the crowd. You were always there with a motherly quote to direct my decisions. Thank you for that kind of guidance...being clear without being smothering.

I remember all the times you cared for me in my multitude of injuries. Broken arms, broken collar bones, three knee surgeries, back surgery, and a host of smaller owies... you were there with motherly care, good cooking, and encouragement to get back up..

Thank you for the way you loved my wife...she and three other APU students lived with us for three months of summer as we ministered together. You taught her so many things that summer...like how to cook...and you embraced her even before you knew she would be my bride. Once we were married you were an excellent mother-in-law...supporting without meddling, coaching without coercing. You loved my wife like your own daughter and were proud of each of her accomplishments.

When Deb had a cancer your heart was broken and your hands were moved...once again you dropped everything and came and cared for her and for me with a strength and faith that made the journey much more bearable. Thank you.

When Lindsey came along you stepped into the grandmother role with an infectious enthusiasm. Lindsey felt cherished, cared for, and encouraged by the presence of Grandma in her life. Those summers you kept her so she could learn to ride horses, do chores, pick in the garden, and feed goats are some of her most special memories. Your prayers and wisdom guided her and helped reinforce the path we were leading her down. Today she exhibits much of your pluck, your morals, and your attitude to life. Thank you, Mom.

When we adopted Anjelica, you embraced her as well. Even though she was already 18 you decided that if we were taking her as a daughter, you would love her like a granddaughter. You made her feel accepted when she could have felt so alone and crushed in the world.

TJ was the same way...and it was a miracle that your health rebounded enough for you to be present and a wonderful addition to Lindsey’s and TJ’s wedding. TJ loved you like his own grandmother because you made him feel so special.

Resilient. That’s the word that describes you best. Like the Timex watch ads of long ago, “you took a licken and kept on ticken”. You bounced back from the loss of your first husband, the loss of your farm, bankruptcy, emotionally tough times in your marriage, the loss of your second husband, and in the end you bounced back from your cancer diagnosis. Your resiliency stemmed from your deep faith in the one who bounced back from death. Jesus was your reason and your power to “come back strong” after each blow that life dealt you. Thank you for that model.

Thank you for the way you walked through your last five years...your courage in the face of the cancer that was robbing your body of strength was a testimony to me of your daily reliance upon the power of God. Seven days before you died you insisted that you not miss church on Sunday. It was Sunday and if you weren’t dead you should be in God’s house to worship Him...and you were. It was fitting to me that you went to God’s house forever on a Sunday. It was like you waited until Sunday to die.

Thank you for waiting to die until I arrived. I prayed otherwise. I talked to you on the phone and encouraged you to go home to Jesus before I got there. I didn’t want you to suffer. But you had different plans. They thought you would die on Thursday, then Friday, then Saturday, then Sunday morning...but you hung on till I got there Sunday evening. And then, although you had been unresponsive for 24 hours...when I kissed you on the cheek and told you I loved you, two large tears rolled down your cheek...as if to say, “I love you Larry and will miss you too”. With all three of your kids there, loving you, singing over you, praying for you, blessing you...two hours after I arrived... you went HOME to your reward.

Proverbs 31:25-31 is the only fitting closure that I can bring to this letter to you, Mom.
The last verse Proverbs 31:31 is my prayer for you. Thank you, Mom and I love you, Mom.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
  she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
  and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
  and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
  her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
  but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
  but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Give her the reward she has earned,
  and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

With All My Love and Until I See You Again,
Your Son,
Larry Joe

4 comments:

Fainter said...

Thank you for sharing your heart for your Mother so other people can see it. You must have had tears rolling down your cheeks as you were writing it. Very special and touching was this letter. Wow! Amazing! Virtuous in all her ways- what an Inspiration.
You know, when sisters 4-yr old son past away from a brain tumor, he too was unconscious and when we all kissed him good-bye-----a two tears came down his cheeks too- one on each side- I still remember that and when I read that part of your letter---oooohhh--how sweet that was. God Bless you Pastor and Deb and all your family forever.

040d51f0-edb9-11e0-9ef6-000bcdcb5194 said...

Wow Larry, how that touched my heart. My mom left a year ago last Sept 5th. She also fought 3 types of cancer, she was always for us and by us. God Bless You and know she was blessed to have you too.
Love,
Fredna

Kim in PA said...

What an amazing women Mardelle was and how she shaped you to be who you are! I have great memories of her and your Dad at their home and in Canada. so encouraging to read and motivating for me, as a Mom, and who I am shaping my sons to be. I pray they are like Jesus in all they do and become. Tears rolled down my face when I got to your paragraph about your last day/minutes with your Mom. Just like when you told me that story this summer. Love you much, Kim

Alberta Wray said...

Hi Larry - long time, no see. It's been years since our APU days. This morning, I am working on a Research Methodology, but decided to take a break and poke around FB for a bit, and somehow ended up here. Your letter to your mom really touched my heart. I lost two people in 2011 that were very dear to me - both too young to die, but both now experiencing eternal life. Your words so reminded me that the deeper the love, the deeper the pain of having to say goodbye. I am so grateful that the goodbyes you and I have said in 2011 are just temporary. Thanks for sharing your heart. God bless you and Deb, both. Alberta Wray