(Mom holding Meg on the day she was born--also Mom's 50th birthday.)
But my own dear Momma comes to mind in a particular way this Mother's Day. I can't think about Nancy Nalle--nor can most others who know her well--without thinking of sacrificial love and service. My mom has given the last 28 years of her life to serving her husband, her three daughters and many, many others who have been part of our family's life. I can't even begin to count the hours she gave to serving my dad with his job, helping him with farm work, packing healthy lunches for her four family members, hauling us girls all over Loudoun County for school, dance classes and drama rehearsals, and staying up late to help with school work and listen to emotional teenage outpourings. And you have to understand something about my mom--I can never remember her uttering a single sentence that would call attention to her own efforts. She's not the type to say, "All day long, I work and I slave, and this is the thanks I get?" In fact, she simply says nothing about what she does.
More recently, my mom has been a counselor and a friend, a college advisor and a wedding planner. Now she's a babysitter too. Oh, and in those first few months with Meg, while we were in the throes of colic, Mom pretty much saved my life and our home. She would stop by our house and spend an afternoon running loads of laundry, scrubbing my kitchen floor, or doing one of the countless other chores on which I had fallen behind. She would surprise us with a meal or bake me up a batch of her yummy and healthy banana cake. She would talk with me and provide a voice of wisdom and humor in my baby-tunnel-visioned world. Yesterday, Mom returned from her first visit to see and care for her grandson, Ari. She was so eager to be able to go and spend even a few brief hours with Jacque, Asher and that little guy--and as is always the case with my mom, to be with someone is to serve them.
(Meg and my mom, last Mother's Day.)
But all of these things--though well worthy of honor in their own right--are just background for what I really want to highlight. This year in particular, my mother has found herself giving her life away in a new direction. My mom's mother, Margie to us, has been fighting cancer for several years now. For the past year or longer, as Margie's weakness increased and Cubby, Mom's father, found it increasingly difficult to care for her by himself, Mom was constantly on-call. A trip up to Pennsylvania, where Cubby and Margie have lived most of their lives, might be necessary at any moment. I'm not sure how many days and weeks of the last year Mom spent with them, caring, counseling, and ministering to the most basic needs of the two people who once took care of her.
About a month ago, Marg and Cub moved from Pennsylvania into the basement of my parents' home. (The move itself was quite a considerable project for my mom and dad!) Almost immediately, Margie suffered a complication that required an emergency trip to the hospital--a trip that lasted for more than two weeks, as it turned out. During this time, both Cubby and my mom served heroically, spending long hours sitting with Margie in her tiny hospital room, conferring with doctors and nurses, trying to soothe Margie in her moments of medication-induced confusion and distress. My mom usually took two shifts a day, since Margie needed someone by her side almost constantly. In the first few nights, when her presence was required all night long, Momma didn't sleep at all.
Now that Margie is in a somewhat more stable condition and is back at home, the investment required by my mom is scarcely less than during the hospital stay. There is much to do in making sure that Margie and Cubby are staying safe and healthy from day to day. I think Cubby pretty much summed it up when he said to me last week, with tears in his eyes, "I just don't know what we would do without your mother. She... she just never runs out."
(Meg, Margie and Momma, fall of 2006.)
It's amazing to me to see how Mom is living out God's command to "honor thy father and thy mother." No longer in the stage of life when "to honor" means mostly to obey and follow the example of, my sweet Momma has moved into the stage when honoring requires dispensing medicine to, making meals for, cleaning up after and chauffeuring her parents. So on this Mother's Day, I honor my mother for honoring her mother--with so much more than just her words.
Mom, thank you for giving your life away to your own mom and dad. You are a living example of sacrificial, uncomplaining, Christ-like service, and I know that you are drawing all of your strength from the same Jesus whom you seek to emulate. Your life provokes me, inspires me, challenges me. I can't think of anyone whose example--as both a mother and a daughter--I would rather follow. I love you. Happy Mother's Day.