Holy Moments with Mom

My mom went home to be with Jesus last week.  I don't say "I lost my mom" because lost means I don't know where she is. I know where she is.  Over the last couple of weeks, I've had time to reflect on some of the holy moments I shared with my mom.  I hope you'll forgive the length of my writing but I'll start with the last. 

When we took my mom to the hospice center, I knew it wouldn't be long.  Sadly, with my line of work, I've been there before.  Albeit with other families, but I knew where we were.  It was decided that my sisters would return home (since they both had "regular" jobs) and I would stay the night with mom.  No sooner had my family left than I literally saw my mom begin to change.  Almost imperceptibly at first but I could tell she was sliding away from me.  I talked to her and sang along with her beloved Gaither music that we kept playing from her iPad.  I held her hand and told her some of the things I'll share below and prayed and waited.  I waited for Jesus to call her home.  While I was in no wise ready to be without her, I knew - in many respects - she was already gone.  The power and holiness of that moment made it hard for me to be sad.  36 years ago, we buried her mother.  Her father died when she was only 21 - almost two full years before I was born.  Now, she was about to rejoin them.  The only one dragging his feet was me.  I'm firmly convinced my mom was waiting for me to stop hovering over her.  She never liked to be doted on and why should that change?  Around 12:45 AM on March 12, I told her, "Mom, you've always done things your way and in your time - I don't expect this will be any different.  I'm going to go lay down on that couch over there.  If Jesus comes to get you before I get back, I'll see you when I get home."  I kissed her forehead and laid down.  When I awoke about 2 AM, the room was still and quiet.  The air in the room seemed thick with holiness, like dust still settling in the air, as if something powerful had just happened.  I sat up and looked at mom.  Whereas before she had been struggling for every breath, now - finally - she was at peace.  I didn't need to walk over.  I knew she had gone home.  The promise of the Savior come to fruition.  She was home.  No more cancer and no more doctors.  No more medicines and no more limitations on her.  Home. 

And that set me to thinking about the home she made for me during her journey.. . .

When I turned 6, my mom got us tickets to the Texas Rangers baseball game.  Understand this - my mom hates baseball.  She always has.  My dad doesn't care for big crowds.  And yet, there we were, me sitting proudly at my first baseball game soaking it all.  The holiness of mom's love for me was clear. 

When I was about 7, I had a fever.  I don't recall it was a particularly bad one, just that I was sick longer than usual for me.  My mom came to check on me around 10 PM.  It seemed like the middle of the night to me.  She had a cold bottle of Sprite she had brought for me - soft drinks were forbidden at night.  One of those tall, glass bottles, it was amazing!  I don't remember anything special about the illness, but I remember the love my mom showed in giving me a soft drink in the dead of night.  The holiness of her love for me was clear. 

When I was 8, it was Christmas morning.  Couldn't have been 5 AM.  My sisters were still asleep and the house was definitely dark.  Out of a deep sleep, I heard my mother calling to me as she shook me.  "Darin, come see what you got!"  The gift she had bought could not wait another minute.  The holiness of her generosity stands clear in my mind. 

When I was 12, I was practicing my stunt work.  I had in mind I would be a stunt man when I grew up so I was working on it in my bedroom.  I fell hard on my right arm.  I knew I had broken my arm as soon as I did.  I got up and went to my mom.  Mustering all the courage a 12 yr old could (after all, I couldn't very well cry!), I told her what happened.  She grabbed my arm and shook it with the proclamation it was fine.  (Incidentally, that's the only time in my life I wanted to smack my mom!)  Three days later, she took me to the doctor because I was still complaining about it.  When the doctor told us it was broken, its one of the few times I ever saw my mom cry.  She apologized and begged my forgiveness for letting me walk around with a broken arm.  The holiness of her love for me clear. 

When I was 15, I felt like the Lord called me to ministry.  I didn't understand why or where the Lord would want me, but I felt certain in it.  The next weekend, for whatever reason, my home church was selling books as tools for Sunday School teachers and such.  One of those tools was a Strong's Concordance.  My mom bought one for me and was so proud to give it to me.  I still have it.  I haven't used it in a long time, but I'll never get rid of it.  The holiness of my mom's inscription inside is far too valuable. 

When I was 17, nearing high school graduation, my guidance counselor - with kindness and believing in my best interests I'm sure - advised me to skip college and go to trade school.  Mom knew I felt like the Lord had called me to ministry and college was the only realistic next step.  When I told her what the guidance counselor had told me, the righteous indignation of mom rose up as she said "That lady's crazy!  We'll just see about that!"  Her confidence underscored God's calling in my life and gave me the courage to step out and try.  The holiness of her love for me was clear. 

When I was 21, I was nearing college graduation.  My mom found out about a trip to Israel.  She and my dad bought me a ticket.  We didn't have the money for it, but they found it somewhere.  Never mind that she never got to go to Israel herself.  The holiness of my mother's generosity is still benefitting me. 

When I was 25, I was graduating from Southwestern Seminary.  My mom called and insisted on buying me a suit to wear.  I don't have the suit anymore, but I do indeed still have the love she invested in me.  I'll never forget the look of pride on her face when I wore it under my robe.  The holiness of my mom's love for me was clear. 

When I was 31 and had finally found Julie, the love of my life,  I took her to meet my mom.  My mom's shih tzu dog got far too excited.  Jumping off the back of the couch, the dog landed - literally - on Julie's head!  My mom was horrified!  Embarrassed beyond words, she apologized repeatedly and scolded her beloved dog.  She wasn't all that upset about the dog as much as she was worried about embarrassing me in front of my fiancee.  The holiness of my mom's love showed itself in powerful ways. 

When I was 38 and graduating with my PhD, the look of pride in my mom's eyes was worth every step of the path to get there.  The holiness of my mom's love for me was evident. 

When our son, Josh, was born - mom's first and only grandchild - I saw something I'd never seen.  The gentleness of my mom's touch in holding a baby.  The holiness of my mother's love was evident. 

When Mom got diagnosed with her cancer, she sat me down and asked me to conduct her funeral.  I don't know how many services I've done for others.  Somewhere north of 300 by my best guess.  But she knew this wouldn't be like any other and she was right.  I couldn't say no.  The holiness of honoring my mom's life on March 14th is a memory I'll hold for the rest of my life. 

And now, I'm back to the end.  In full honesty, I wasn't ready to be without her.  I just was ready for her to not be sick anymore.  She had lived an extraordinary life - just not as long as her oldest would've liked.  I had her the longest, but it wasn't long enough.  I'll celebrate my 50th birthday in a couple of months - without her - but not without the holiness of her touch on my life.  I am who I am because of the holiness she showed in her love, kindness, care and gentleness. 

You might say, "Darin, these aren't holy moments - they're just regular ones lodged in your memory."  But that's just it - the fact that I remember so clearly - even decades later - means they are stamped deeply upon me.  My mom left that kind of mark upon me - and the holiness of her love and passion for me and my sisters is what makes these moments holy.  Holy moments don't have to be at church.

If you're still reading - and bless you if you are because Heaven knows this has gone a lot longer than I meant for it to - thanks for hearing me out.  Pray that when my son is 49, he'll be able to look back and see the holiness of my love for him like I can see in my mom.   

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