A True Mother
By DANNY MINTON
In 1963 I watched the news and the report on the funeral service of a man named Lee Harvey Oswald. There were no pallbearers, so the newsmen at the funeral were asked to help carry the coffin to the graveside. It even became difficult to find a preacher to perform the service. Despite all this in the pictures shown, you see them sitting, grieving for him: his mother, brother, wife, and two children. People who are hurting and in pain, even though he was the most hated man in the country at that time.
The one person who never gave up on Lee Harvey was his mother. She continued to believe in and support her son long after he lay in his grave. It didn’t matter what the world thought. It didn’t matter that he, for a short time, was the most despised and rejected man in the country. Lee remained her son, a son she loved even in the face of a world of hate. Marguerite continued over the years to proclaim the innocence of her son, claiming several conspiracy theories. She did so until she died in 1981. Whether we agree with her or not, the one thing that stands out is that she was his mother to the end. When others had left, his mother was still present, loving her baby boy.
Being a true mother is being more than just the birth mother. We all have the mother that brought us into this world. To many of us, our birth mother is the one who stayed up at night when we were ill; she’s the one we cried for when hurt; she’s the one we called to give good news. When things were going wrong, our mother was the one we told first, knowing we’d get in most cases a sympathetic ear. She was the one who was always by our side. My wife’s mother and my mother both passed years ago. We were fortunate to have this experience throughout our childhood and many years after we were married.
However, to many the mother that cared and nurtured them was not their birth mother. A true mother walks with you through good and bad times. She hurts when you hurt, cries when you cry, and holds you when you’re sad. She’s the one who will do anything for you and never leave your side. She may or may not be your birth mother, but she is always your life mother, the one who loves, cares, protects, and always a safe haven.
Some mothers are adoptive mothers, mothers because a birth mother loved her child so much she wanted to give the child a life that she couldn’t, while others are foster mothers. A mother could be an aunt or grandmother who reared you and looked after your needs. Maybe a mother is a close friend who rescued you after your mother passed away, and you needed someone who understood you. In some cases, as sad as it seems, a father has had to step in and accept both roles.
My wife was one of the best mothers I know. She wasn’t a birth mother to our two sons; they were both adopted. To look at them as they were younger, people would say our oldest son took after me and our youngest after her. You would never know they were adopted. Our oldest son had cerebral palsy and never was more than a year old in anything he could do. For forty years, he was like an infant that my wife cared for with great love while being a mother to a healthy younger brother who was all boy! However, she was there for both of them no matter what came up in their lives. Tube-feeding, changing diapers, and sitting up all night with our oldest were regular events in our household. Attending ballgames, helping with homework, and throwing birthday parties for the younger was also part of the picture. No matter how tired she was, she was there when they needed her. They were hers, even though she didn’t meet the first until he was three weeks old and the younger three months old.
Mother’s Day can be a happy/sad day. Sad as we remember mothers who have passed, women who have made a difference in our lives who have died. I see so many times where someone has written, “I wish my mom were still here.” Memories are alive for us, and we should be grateful that there was someone there for us each time we skinned our knee, needed encouragement, or provided a shoulder to cry upon when others left.
It’s also a happy time for us to remember our mothers and show them how much we appreciate them for what they have done and who they are and have helped us become. It’s a time to remember and thank those who have been a mother or mothers in our lives. These are the people who sacrifice their lives to help us survive those times in our lives when we are hurting.
As Jesus hung on the cross, he looked down and spoke to one of his disciples. It was the last instruction he gave to anyone before he died on the cross. I see his eyes fixed on Mary, his mother, then slowly move over to his disciple John and quietly speak,
“When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.“ John 19:26-28 (NIV2011) His final concern was caring for the woman that had cared for him.
This Mother’s Day, or as a matter of fact any other day, if at all possible, tell your mother or mothers that you love them. Let them know how much they mean to you for all they did in your life. If your mother is no longer living, take time to thank God for what she meant to you. Pull out the photos and tell your children and grandchildren the stories of the woman to whom they all owe their lives. Teach them about what it truly means to be a mother.
“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’” – Proverbs 31:28-31
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ