“What we leave behind
is not what is engraved in stone monuments,
but what is woven into the lives of others.”
— Pericles (495-429, B.C. Greek statesman, orator, and general of Athens)
I love that word, woven. It speaks eloquently of the way my mother, Geraldine Claire (November 5, 1928-October 9, 2014), influenced my life. Woven into the fabric of my being are memories of Mom’s words and example that still have impact to this day.
Many of those memories involve Mom and Dad because they were such an inseparable team. They even wallpapered together.
Now marriage experts will tell you that completing home improvement projects with your spouse can be detrimental to your relationship. But that was not the case for Mom and Dad. Amidst the measuring, pasting, and hanging, my brother, John, and I saw cooperation and patience in action.
Once the wallpaper was hung in the three homes of our growing-up years, Mom was ready to entertain. Hospitality was definitely one of her gifts. In fact, the last dining room table Mother and Dad purchased could seat fourteen people.
Mom became adept at organizing large gatherings by writing lists, doing everything she could ahead of time, even labeling the serving ware so each item on the menu would have an appropriate bowl or plate. Little did I know then how often I’d be following her routine and recipes, as Steve and I began to entertain.
Mom’s legacy included wise advice. One time I was heartsick over a low report card grade in math—my most challenging subject. She quickly gave me perspective for the tragedy, saying, “Just remember: this grade will not matter in ten years.” And, of course, she was right.
Countless times over the years as disappointments and difficulties have occurred, I’ve heard Mother’s voice reminding me to consider events with a ten-year perspective.
But that doesn’t mean she accepted excuses. Instead, Mom fostered independence and personal responsibility .
I’m remembering the Sunday School Christmas program from second grade. My part was to recite six verses from Luke, chapter two, about the angel visitation to the shepherds. “This is too much to memorize,” I complained.
Mother replied calmly, “Well, just tell Mr. Faircloth that you can’t manage it, and he’ll ask someone else.”
Mom did not take control of the situation; she left it up to me to decide what course of action to take. Wise mother, indeed.
But perhaps the most astounding aspect of her legacy is the way she exhibited all features of the fruit of the Spirit, listed in Galatians 5:22-23.
LOVE — Mom lavished love on family, friends, and stranger alike. She could strike up a conversation with anyone, and was always ready with a warm hug.
JOY — Mother was a woman of gladness. She laughed easily and often.
PEACE — Mom and Dad created a peaceful, secure home for John and me.
PATIENCE — She exercised great patience, especially when dealing with my fluctuating moods of early adolescence.
KINDNESS — Mother demonstrated kindness in many ways. I remember one house where the old wallpaper was in process of removal when Mom and Dad took in a missionary who needed a place to stay. We have home movies of that missionary, Miss Hunt, standing in front of the glue-encrusted plaster. Another time when a different missionary family stayed with us, Mom did all their laundry while they attended to other affairs.
GOODNESS — Mother’s goodness was also expressed in numerous ways. In my mind’s eye, I can still see Mom at her desk at Scripture Press, where she was executive secretary to the Vice President of Editorial. (The visualization is easy to conjure; I sat directly across from Mom, most of my seven summers as an editorial assistant.) Frequently people stopped by her desk to share a need and ask for advice. We used to tease her about being the psychologist of Scripture Press!
FAITHFULNESS — Mother’s faithfulnesss to God never wavered for the seventy-five earthly years she knew Jesus as her Savior and Lord.
GENTLENESS — While John and I were growing up, Mom could be plenty firm with us. Yet, when we were sick, hurt or experiencing trouble, she readily soothed us with comfort and hugs.
SELF-CONTROL — I have to admit: I provided Mom and Dad with plenty of parenting challenges. And though Mom did become angry sometimes, she never lost her temper with me.
For these reasons and so many more, John and I “arise and call her blessed” (Proverbs 31:28). Mother did indeed weave godly integrity, wisdom, and faith into our lives.