Imperfect Saint

Laugh Again

A boy says goodbye to the mom he loves

I asked friends what they loved about their mom. Sadie said: “She never talked about her weight or how she looks fat. It made a huge impact on me.” She insists she didn’t intend that as a pun. Cathy said, “She taught me to laugh at myself.” Nancy said, “My mom taught me the great joy of giving. I’m so glad she adopted me.”

When my mom died, I wondered how you say goodbye to the one who showed you where to find Jesus. Well, first you cry a lot. Then you smile, because you remember how imperfect she was. Mom never made a fashion statement, and she disliked cooking. She’d rather stub her toe on a stove than cook on it. She was no child-rearing expert. In fact, she once tied me to the clothesline with the dog collar. I quite enjoyed sitting there pondering a dog’s life. But she felt so guilty that she released me with a stern warning, “Stop running away.” And I did. I stay close to home now. She’s gone now, so I can write about this.

Mom chose children over grass. Boys knew they could play sports in our yard without being threatened with live ammunition. Our house was a haven. Bob Kirk used to fall asleep on our sofa. He may still be there. I never once heard her speak an unkind word about preachers, politicians, or referees. I guess she figured God had shown grace to her, she’d better show some to others. On summer vacations, I watched her divvy out gospel booklets to leather-clad bikers, then tell them about Jesus. I thought they would murder her—and me—but even the Hells Angels liked her.

Mom trusted God, but battled fear. She was the first person I ever saw have a panic attack. From her I learned that great saints often struggle. They grow saintly hanging onto Jesus. Mom prayed almost non-stop as her years increased. Three bestselling authors said they wouldn’t have written a book without her encouragement. She was a talented writer who was content to stay at home while her books traveled the world. She believed money was a lousy substitute for the adoration of 5 kids and 13 grandkids. How do you say goodbye to such a gal? Maybe you don’t. You say thank you.

Thanks, Mom, for the inspiration and the memories. The Bible says that God is with me and you’re with him. Maybe we’re not so far apart after all.

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