I know what it is to hold a longed-for little boy – newly released from his safe little home of 9 months – and feel the intense, overwhelming love of a parent who would give all in a heartbeat for that tiny little life.
I’ve known that joy five times.
And I’ve known the sacrifices that come with trying to mold and guide and protect and encourage those little boys, in their journey to young manhood.
And I’ve seen the end result. The fruit of all that labor. Not in my household; not yet. But in my mother’s heart.
She and Dad poured themselves out for four little boys. They did without. They stuck it out as a couple, and made it work as a family. We weren’t poor, but we certainly weren’t wealthy. We were average, I thought.
No, we weren’t, as I later found out. We were blessed.
We didn’t make it easy for my parents. We scrapped, while they scrimped. We got into scrapes, while they scraped by. But they had the long view. And, as it turned out, they produced four men who grew to respect them, love them, and love each other.
She stayed with us during those weary years when the house was full of toddler noise and baby diapers. Later, she taught 3rd grade for many years, impacting many students who would come back later, as adults, and share their memories. And, as she never tires of reminding us, in the early years, before we could afford a dryer, the wash would be put out on the clothesline in the dead of winter to be “freeze-dried.” Ah, those were the days!
Mom is on her own now – Dad was 17 years her senior, and passed away some years ago. But, still living in that same house where we grew up, she is not alone. Her sons keep a close watch on her. Her many grandchildren love her, and she them. She now enjoys the fruits of all that labor. Setting an example for us that are still struggling to keep our kids from . . . well, being like we were!
When Mom eventually takes her last breath (and may that yet be a long way off!), and leaves a grieving but grateful set of her biggest fans behind, the world at large will not publicize her life’s work. Unlike many of our celebrities, whose noisy contributions center around sleaze, selfishness, and vanity, Mom quietly contributed something far more valuable and enduring to society.
She poured herself out, into the lives of others. Her children. Her grandchildren. Her students. Her neighbors.
That’s a real legacy.