Friday, November 26, 2004
God gives us beautiful trees and faithful friends.
by Janice Price
This admission is going to startle many of those who know me, and my mother may well pass out from the shock, but this needs to be said.
There are times my mother is an absolute inspiration and encouragement.
Life hasn’t been easy for her and it is especially hard for her now. She has been housebound for several years, since before I moved across country to live nearby, which means she has been forgotten by society and is often lonely. Her eyesight and hearing are poor and her speech isn’t always clear. She propels herself around the house in a wheelchair by using her feet, determined to remain as independent and self-sufficient as possible.
Everything in her circumstances is working against her, and too often this includes her daughter and her one son in this area. Five years ago we buried another son, the one who lived with her. Of course, having four living children doesn’t replace the one she lost.
Doug and I try to help her, but he often works long hours, so I am Mother’s pack mule. In other words, I run her errands and haul everything upstairs from the street to the sidewalk and then up the porch steps. This isn’t easy for me, as I’m sure her neighbors are aware. Yes, I often complain – loudly!
So I was amazed when the thought occurred to me that I wanted to do something really special for her for Thanksgiving this year. I could see it in my mind. I would take my card table, cover it with a tablecloth, and set it with the familiar silverware, plates and glasses she gave me this summer when I cleaned out her storage shed. I hoped Doug and his friend Theresa could join us. It would be a lot of extra work, but we could have at least one special Thanksgiving together while we have the opportunity.
I never saw any food in my mind’s vision, only the table settings. I knew we didn’t have the funds for the meal, but I was still disappointed last weekend when the dream was lost to reality. There wouldn’t be a Thanksgiving meal, with or without a fancy table.
While I struggled with grumpy discouragement, Mother also had a dream that wasn’t to be. She wanted to treat me to a shopping spree for warm clothes today, the day after Thanksgiving.
"How could you think I would want to go shopping for myself when we need food?" I asked, in disbelief, proving once again that my natural walking position is with foot in mouth. I have since apologized for this, but still the hurt from the unkind remark lingers.
"I wanted to give you a special Thanksgiving," I told her.
"I guess God has other plans," she replied.
Funds became available Tuesday afternoon. Some people could plan a meal, thaw a turkey and rush to get it all done on time, but to do so much at the last minute would leave me out of commission for weeks. Everything in this small town is closed on Thanksgiving. Mother and I agreed to have pizza together on Wednesday afternoon and pumpkin pie on Thursday.
"Every day is Thanksgiving," Mother assured me. "It doesn’t matter what we have, I’ll be thankful for it."
"The pizza is courtesy of Mark and Janet," I told Mother after we ate, "but you bought the pumpkin pie for tomorrow."
I was barely home before Charles, a neighbor and member of our watch group, arrived, walking on crutches. His young grandson carried an air tank for Charles to blow out my gas space heaters. The weather was about to change and although my landlord had again forgotten me, Charles remembered and came to light the pilots.
A couple of hours later Martha, the local Red Cross manager, called and said she had something she wanted to share with "you and your mama." She brought half a cooked turkey.
Then Johnnie asked if she could drop off a chicken plate on Thanksgiving for "you and your mama." I never turn down her delicious cooking! She and her husband brought us a full meal yesterday.
Theresa invited me to her niece’s for sandwiches in the evening. She came by so I could follow her over there without getting lost. She brought a plate of turkey and stuffing for "you and your mama." Her niece sent me home with some leftover turkey and a slice of melt-in-your-mouth pecan pie.
By now I should know that God is much more generous than I am and that he doesn’t overlook the poor or the lonely. I’m so grateful for the kindness of all these people. This was a gentle reproof to me that God can and will provide without my help if I get out of his way and concentrate on his blessings instead of on what I don’t have.
It was also another reminder that God has not forgotten or abandoned my mother in her isolation.
Mother doesn’t talk much about personal matters, including her faith, so this was also a reminder that Mother has a faith strong enough to withstand disappointments and loneliness. So often in the daily grind, such as taking out her trash or carrying laundry back and forth, I lose sight of the fact that she’s not only my mother, but she’s a sister in Christ.
I don’t know that I’ll ever be an inspiration and encouragement to anyone, but I do pray I will remain as strong in my faith, no matter what the circumstances, as she has.
© 2004 Janice Price