If someone were to ask me the question, “Who is the one person who has had the most influence on your life?” I would answer with two words, “My mother!” It was she who was my first school teacher, preparing me for the higher institution of learning called life. She never attended a class in a college or university classroom or earned any online degrees, yet she was deserving of the highest degree and honors that could be bestowed upon any person when it came to wisdom, discernment, and the knowledge that she had about how to raise four children whom she loved dearly in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
My mother and I were blessed to spend 39 and a half years together on this earth before she lost her battle with breast cancer at 59 years of age. During those precious years we laughed together, we played together, we shared our hopes and dreams for better tomorrows, and there were even times when we cried together. I can honestly say that she was not only my mother but a true and faithful confidant and an endearing friend.
The writer of Proverbs posed the question, “Who can find a virtuous woman?” (Proverbs 31:10). I was blessed to know such a woman in the person of my dear mother. I echo the words of President Abraham Lincoln who is quoted as having said, “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”
The Humble Life That She Lived
My mother was a very humble person. She never owned a lot of worldly possessions. She did not own or drive an expensive car, have a large bank account, or even own an expensive wardrobe or expensive jewelry as some seem to find to be a necessity to have these days. In fact, she would buy cloth and material and make most of her own clothing. As far as I can remember, the first real expensive items of jewelry that she ever possessed were the gifts of a pearl necklace, and a necklace made of different gemstones that her son, then serving in the Navy, presented to her as a Christmas gift. I can almost see her face as she opened those gifts, and although she appreciated the gift, I can still hear her say, “Thank you, but you didn’t have to spend your money on me.” She cherished those gifts and would only take them from her jewelry box to wear on special occasions. True, I didn’t have to spend the money, but I sincerely ask you, “What cost is too great when it comes to showing your love for your mother?” As the writer of Proverbs exhorted, “For her price is far above rubies” (Proverbs 31:10).
When There’s Love At Home
My family never lived in a big fancy house, but what made the houses that we lived in so special is that my mother knew how to make a house a home. She spent many hours in the home taking care of her family. There were many nights that she would be the last to lay down and rest, only after she was sure that her family were all in, at rest, and the home was secure. The writer of Proverbs adequately paints a picture of my mother with his words, “She [looked] well to the ways of her household, and [ate] not the bread of idleness” (Proverbs 31:27).
I can honestly say that my mother set the tone and atmosphere in our home. Everyone who entered our home was a welcomed guest, whether they were a family member, a long-time friend, or a total stranger. That is why I often say, if you want to know the true heartbeat of any home, spend some time getting to know the matriarch of the home.
Our home was a virtual classroom with my mother being both school teacher and principal. In our formative years she helped us to learn basic skills, and after we started school, our school work always took priority over anything else. She helped us as best she could to make sure that our assignments were complete. That is not to say that we didn’t have time for going outside to play after school or to watch television, but my mother would not allow those things to be a deterrent for us not completing our homework. She also made sure that we got the proper rest that we needed, and wanting to stay up late to finish a homework assignment because of our own procrastination in getting the assignment done was not acceptable.
Even after her four children had left home and were on their own, she maintained constant contact with each one, and at times offered wise counsel and direction when and where needed. However, she always allowed each of us to have our free agency, all the while praying that we would always make the right decisions. Quoting again from Proverbs, “She [opened] her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue [was] the law of kindness” (Proverbs 31:26).
I still have and cherish letters that my mother wrote to me while I was serving in the Navy – many times thousands of miles away on the other side of the world. Those letters often brought me great peace and comfort.
An Unfailing, Undying Love
Not only did my mother offer her counsel, but she always made sure that her children would always have a home to come home to, and she delighted in each visit.
The last time that I visited her was a few short months before she passed away. I was at that time transferring from duty in Bahrain, UAE to the country of Iceland and had gone home on 30 days leave. Without fail, each morning at about 8:00 am she would knock on my bedroom door wanting to know what we, that is she and I, were going to do that day. I couldn’t very well send her away and tell her that I just wanted to rest, especially when she had gotten up early to prepare a nice hot breakfast for me. The aroma alone was enough to get me up and moving.
On the last evening of my visit, I was in my room when I smelt something very familiar coming from the kitchen. I thought that my mother had laid down to rest as it was obvious that day that she was exhausted and not feeling well. To my surprise, when I went into the kitchen, there she was preparing a special meal for me of homemade chicken and dumplings. Those were perhaps the best chicken and dumplings that I had ever had, not because she had added any special ingredients to make them taste better, but because they were made by the loving hands of a mother who wanted to do something extra special for her son. Little did I realize at that moment, but it would be the last home cooked meal that my dear mother would ever prepare for me.
She Who Feared the Lord
The scriptures tell us, “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30). My mother loved the Savior and spent time each day reading His Word. When she was too sick to read the scriptures, my younger sister would read to her or she would listen to the scriptures on cassette tape or CD. One of the last gifts that I bought for her was a study Bible that she wanted. She read from that Bible every day, and carried it with her to church when she was able to go. I am blessed to have that Bible as well as other Bibles that she studied from, complete with her personal markings and handwritten notes, in my library at home.
Her favorite Bible verses were Psalm 37:1-9. These verses could very well have been her counsel to her family. We read these words:
Growing up in our home, there was always a copy of the Bible available. My mother introduced her children to the scriptures at a young age, and taught them to love the Savior by keeping His commandments and following His will for their lives. She took us to church every Sunday without fail unless there were some reason that she was unable to go. The standing rule in our home was if mom is going to church than so are you. I cannot recall one time when my mom ever called for a family meeting to discuss the matter, or call for a vote to see who wanted to go to church and who didn’t. We were also taught from a very early age how to be reverent in church. We were not allowed to talk, laugh, or whisper to each other during services or even in Sunday school. I can also tell you that had electronic gadgets such as iPods, iPads, or iPhones been around at that time, we would not have been allowed to play with them during church time either. We were there to sit quietly, listen, take part if called on, and learn. My mother was a firm believer that there is a time and place for everything.
Because of the life that she lived as she strove to emulate the Savior, she gained the respect and admiration of many people, who even at the time of her passing, lovingly referred to her as “Mom.” She never complained about things, and she greeted everyone with a kind word and a smile. If she could offer someone a cool drink, or something to eat, she did so gladly. Many a time I saw her go into her purse and give someone the last bit of money that she had. I remember asking her on a few occasions why she would do these things especially when she had needs of her own. She would always reply, “Don’t worry about me. I will be alright.” And she was always taken care of and somehow all of her needs were always met. She understood that because she had been given much, she too must give.”
Maybe I am a bit bias and partial because she was my mother, but as a loving tribute to her on Mother’s Day and every day I humbly say, “ Many daughters have done virtuously, but [you] [dear mother] excellest them all” (Proverbs 31:29).
Thank God for mothers! Those special daughters of our Heavenly Father who are rare, precious, priceless, jewels. There is no love in all the world like the love of a dear mother. For those of you who still have your mothers to spend time with, may I counsel you to honor her, cherish her, treat her with the utmost respect, but most of all – LOVE her. For those of you, like myself, whose beloved mothers have passed on, let us never forget their unfailing love for us, and may we always cherish the sweet memories of them. And to all who are now mothers, and will be mothers in the future, may your children, and your husband, always arise to call you blessed.
In the sacred name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.