My dad and mom were born in 1923 and 1925, respectively. They grew up in hard times, the Great Depression coloring most of their childhood and teen years. They married very young, when dad was 19 and mom almost 17. A month later, Dad went off to do his part in WWII. When they were nearing their ’30’s, Dad surrendered to God’s call on his life and started attending Northwestern Bible College in Minneapolis. When I was 10 we moved to Portland, Oregon so Dad could go to seminary there, and he took on the pastorate of his first church. From here on, this is Mom’s story.
Mom would have been 32 when she became a pastor’s wife. She finished high school while Dad was in the Navy, but she never went to college. She worked in a bank while Dad was in school, helping support the family so he could give as much time as possible to his studies. She worked in a bank again when we lived in Portland, until my brother was born when I was 14. Mom would have been 36.
She was totally dedicated to serving the Lord, and she believed that being a pastor’s wife was her high calling. She always loved people, and although she could be very intimidated and shy in certain settings, she had a way of making friends and putting other people at ease. She loved having company, but worried if she felt it was someone “above her touch.” She was a wonderful hostess, loved putting a great meal on the table and watching people enjoy her cooking. Her gifts centered on the home and family. We moved a lot, and she always managed to turn the new place into a warm, familiar, and comfortable home in a very short period of time. There was never much money, but she was a gifted seamstress and made dozens of sets of curtains over the years.
Mom was most content when she didn’t have to work outside the home. She loved housework, if you can imagine such a thing! I did NOT inherit that love from her. She loved my dad. Aside from the Lord Himself, my dad was the center of her heart and life. After he died, nearly 20 years ago, she had to learn a whole new way to live. I remember her telling me on occasion that she had never realized that she had NOT completely depended on God while my dad was alive. As a widow, her spiritual growth went in a more focused direction and I believe she learned to love the Lord in a whole new way.
So I’m thinking, during my lunch break today, that there has been a major shift in my universe. My sister and I are now the “matriarch” in our immediate family, the elder stateswomen of our tribe. This is very strange for me, but I imagine the mantle will settle more easily as time goes on. I’m amazed to know there are nine children out there who look on me as Grandma, when all the Grandmas in my life are in heaven and I still don’t feel as if I’m as old as they were! So that leads me to believe THEY probably didn’t feel old, either; that they felt, as I do, a sense of inadequacy to carry the torch from their own mothers and grandmothers. I used to think that when I reached my present advanced old age, I’d know everything I needed to know and have all the answers to all the questions.
It’s not turning out that way. At all.
So. I’m thankful for the example of my mother, who just kept putting one foot in front of the other even when she wasn’t sure of her direction. She was often insecure, unsure of herself, and wondered how she would get through whatever the situation was at the moment. There were lots of hard times, all throughout her life.
On Sunday, she graduated with honors from the School of Life, and now, finally, she is at rest, and knows all the answers she needs to know, and can just sit back and enjoy herself. Forever.