My mother-- A strong woman with much grit and determination to rise with each dawn with joy. I watched how she threw herself against the elements, fought a losing battle with her weak feminine body, and won. She moved mountains and nothing stood in her way, and she taught the earth that she was its ruler. I watched and learned. When the earth fought back with a blow hard as stone, she pushed harder. She was wet with sweat. She toiled. She did things that she never whispered into my little ears. Some things are too complicated for a child to grasp. Mothers intuitively know that and cover little ears. They protect. They guard fierce with their lives.
A mother swells with anticipation, births with great pains a life, and then sees that she will nearly be killed in the work of raising it. And lay down her life, mine did. Dark depression and chronic illness hit after we were born. A woman doesn't ask for these changes--they just come. My mother didn't know it--at 19--that birthing us would turn her inside out, make her hate herself, make her come face-to-face with demons she didn't know were there, make her want to quit on living, on us.
I'm grateful to her that she never quit on us. And, in the true essence of mother, she did the oh-so-hard work of changing. She beat her body and willed her flesh to honor God. The edges of her became frayed and torn and worn out from all the love given, all the giving up of new clothes so that we could wear the nicest boutique things, all the driving back and forth to school and singing to us crazy and laughing it off when we were embarrassed. Her lap and breasts endured many elbow pokes and prods, all the hard rubbing that wore her thin, and still, she continued to give.
I remember her hunched over, digging up earth, showing me how to break it up deep, water and nourish. I remember her rolling my hair up every Saturday night, the way she played worship music in the house while she cleaned, can still hear her loud, boisterous singing. Oh, how she taught me to live out loud with no regrets. I remember the peace that reigned and how even the hard, sinful things were redeemed because of her obedience and perseverance. Every. single. day.
I remember her saying she was sorry, the way she held me when I'd been in trouble and how calming my cheek against her chest was, lying side by side for a nap and love in her eyes, telling me to go to sleep when I stared at her wide-eyed--that was her pushing through with patience. And asking me to pray for her, us all crumpled there at the top of the stairs, that she wouldn't yell at us anymore--that taught me a broken heart before God, an obedience to the Holy Spirit and the love of a mother-heart.
I remember her pink women's devotional bible, her hand-crafted beauties she decorated the house pretty with, how she let me keep a kitten in the laundry room until he was old enough, how everything was always magically clean, how supper was always, always, always on the table before dark, and our piano-playing, our singing, our creating--she always, always said it was good, even when Daddy wouldn't be there 'til midnight, her serving alone such a treasure. At 15, she took me to buy a new outfit because a boy was coming to see me, her only just 15 when she met my Daddy. I remember my junior year and her eyes twinkling proudly when she watched me come out of the boutique dressing room in an emerald prom dress, bought on Daddy's small pastor's salary. I'm sure I don't know what it all cost her--because she never told me.
And when she prayed with us before school, for God to send a friend, for God to break depression off of me when I was in the clutches of the enemy, she really did move mountains with her faith, break generational curses, tell earth to stand back and let God move. She pioneered a godly family with my dad, she forged ahead out into the unknown, Christianity new to her. And like all mothers, she was afraid and wasn't at the same time, because she had Love on her side.