As my siblings and I rifled through my mother’s belongings this weekend, distributing what held value to each one of us, I searched for something I had made myself. Two books. One titled Focus on the Father; the other titled Praising a Woman of Excellence. Each was a tribute to my parents I created on behalf of their children and grandchildren, who contributed something, a writing, a picture, a hand print. Back in 1999, back when I had more time to be creative, I had made books with my own children and those in our home-school support group. (It was our last year of home-schooling.) We wrote, we illustrated, we sewed together the books, binding them to a fabric cover, and creating a book jacket. My mother and father received the books with joy on Mother’s Day 1999, but I hadn’t seen them in recent years and was rather frantic in searching for them this weekend as they captured our feelings about our parents. Late in the afternoon on Saturday, a pastor friend who was enthusiastically boxing my mother’s books for his own library found them. I was overjoyed. This is what I had written about my mother then; it seems a fitting blog post:
When I think of my mother, the word “time” comes to mind. Since my mother had to work and raise five children, it seems a bit impossible that “time” should stand out—perhaps “lack of” would more likely accompany that word in that situation. But my mother had a way of making time for me.
When I needed to talk to my mother, I would often find her at her makeshift office, busily typing away on some newspaper or magazine assignment. The minute I walked into the room, no matter how busy she was, my mother would stop typing and turn her full attention to me. She never seemed impatient, never appeared to be on deadline. She always listened, advised, hugged, cried, or gave whatever the situation took.
When I needed tutoring in algebra, she rearranged her work schedule so she could bring me to school early for help. If she was at work when I arrived home from school, she was certain to leave a note listing all the chores my sister and I could do while she was gone, which made us feel she really was there! She always made it clear that she would prefer to be home with us, and somehow having her want that stuck in my thoughts and benefited me almost as much as having her there.
She attended my every concert, every swim meet, every softball game (I can still hear her cheering me on!). It never occurred to me that she had four other children whose events she also would attend. I was oblivious to the work or home or husband that needed attending to. She was just always there—and not there talking to her friends or reading a book or trying to get some project done at the same time. She was there for me.
A godly woman, my mother always offered good advice. I didn’t always appreciate her wisdom, of course, but now I am amazed at how much she had to offer. When I look back at photos of my youth group, I see my home as the background for Friday fellowships and parties. My parents are in the middle of all the teens, sometimes just as involved, too. They didn’t have much money, but they shared what they had and blessed us all. My mother taught me much about faith and perseverance.
When my first husband died, my mother was suddenly free to be with me, to talk, to wander the beach and listen to me talk and cry, to grieve with me. Then when God blessed me with a new husband and four children in one fell swoop, she was there, loving and encouraging me—and counting herself the mother of another son and the grandmother of four more.
Her heart and arms are still open, still receiving. I consider my mother my best friend. I hope God preserves her life for a good, long time just because I can’t imagine living without her. I probably love her too much. My hope is that I can be as good a mother to my own five children. There are many days I fall too far short of that goal, but as I do see my own failings, I appreciate my mother, Barbara Jean Souders, all the more.