She was a sponge, squeezing out all she had if you had nothing.
There always seemed to be room for one more person at the table. Most of her guests could not return the hospitality.
Little boxes folded from company circulars were shared with neighbors and students. Pumpkin breads baked from home-cooked jack-o-lanterns were delivered to shut-ins and the lonely at harvest time.
She loved to tell about “Old John” who was a broken man without a family. Her gracious term for him was “quite the character.” Yet, the uniqueness of her life betrayed her desire to be remembered in the same way.
Safety goggles protected her eyes from drying air currents. Depending on the season, she wore a hat or cap over her long gray locks that “kept her neck warm.”
But like the sponge that has been wrung out, she soaked up any energy around her.
Within minutes of meeting her, you learned her mother died when she was only twelve. Shortly after that, one would learn that of the six daughters born to her parents, only she and an older sister had survived.
Others’ time had meant little to her for as long as I remember which was great if you had a burden or needed a place to pass the time. Even a work schedule was a poor excuse to end a visit. After her brain tumor was removed, she could no longer tell time. When you were gone, she thought you’d never been there.
She valued hard, physical labor but working together didn’t count for time. In her life, listening to her trite facts and distant connections to fourth or fifth cousins was the “stuff” of love.
As Mother’s Day approaches, it is the second anniversary of not having a mother to send a card, buy flowers or make a visit to. Memories of good ebb with the pain of a “never enough” love from Mom.
Bible stories, nursery rhymes and fairy tales were part of her gift to me. She listened to hours of piano plunking before I attained musical grace. Teaching me to bake, prepare a meal with all parts finishing at once, sewing clothing and designing garments are part of what she wrung out of her sponge into me.
Yet her brokenness spilled over me as well. When the results of her teaching in my life did not turn out as she would like, I carried the full responsibility. A 4-H project blouse received the lowest rating due to the fabric choice. For years I had to listen to her rationalization about the white ribbon.
I know that my wreck of a life impacts my children. We are all imperfect, which is why we need a Savior.
And because He has forgiven me the great debt of my sin, I forgive her. I’m learning to accept that she loved me as well as she could. I’m beginning to take my pain from her brokenness to the Cross, and lift it up to Him. He has already paid for her sin, and for mine.
He has paid for you, too.