When I woke up this morning, my ankle automatically stretched forward and a memory of mom doing that in bed in the morning came. Wow, where did that come from? I guess as Baby T arrives (Aug. 19th is the due date) I think of mom. I laid in bed and tried to remember the first memory I have of my mom. Those memories involve my grandmother, Catherine Verde Strickland, who housed all of the babies in Harris County (Houston) that were picked up from abusive situations in their home. She had a seven bedroom house that my dad added many of the rooms on for her. The authorities would pick the children up, and if they were under school age they came to my grandmother's house. They all wore one piece, striped jumpers. My mom got a pair for my brother and I. I still have my pair. Mom wanted me to feel like one of the kids. Mine had my name on the back unlike all the rest. My mom would go each day to help with all that had to be done with the children - like a daycare, but it was 24/7. So my first memories of my mom involve serving, giving, being a part of children's lives. Wow, that is a powerful legacy. As I think of all of this, it is a bit painful and then there is powerful surge of love. I guess it is like that for many of us who have such great memories and are left on earth without their physical closeness. I know I could write for hours and not cover my memories. The thoughts are a bit overwhelming.
When I was born I was two months premature. So when I was about 5 yrs old, my mom put me in twirling lessons to help my coordination. That lead to many events in my life, but one of my first memories was the Christmas Day Parade. In Houston, it was always held downtown, cold, cold mornings. Because I was so young, mom would walk the whole parade on the sidelines so that she was always there. That seems like a little thing, but that could be the picture of how life with mom was. She was so good at encouraging me and walking along side. Our generation calls that mentoring. It has been instilled in me for all of my life.
When my grandmother died, I was 5 yrs. old. I actually missed three months of my kindergarten year b/c my grandmother died. That was not a big deal back then. They would pass you on to the next grade and so they did. Mom didn't handle losing her mom so well, and we were actually taken care of by one of the ladies that had helped my grandmother with all of those babies. She would come to our house each day and help mom. This was a painful time for my mom, but it was healthy for me to reflect on later b/c it was important that I also see my mom's humanness. As wonderful as she was she had limits like we all do. She passed on fear of darkness to me and of being alone when my dad would leave on his trips. He was a truck driver, out of town a lot. Those are things I have had to work thru with God's help all of my married life. I don't think of those being problems for me now, although I don't like for Daniel to be away from home.
My mom was the type who encouraged strong, loyal friendship in my life. It has paid off because I love friendship and see 99.9 percent of my life as working on relationships, enjoying them and learning about myself and God in these relationships. I think of God being very relational, so this was a big concept my mom instilled in my about who God is. She allowed for many "fun" activities - wrapping houses, playing jokes, going out of town on short trips, slumber parties,and lots of football games (remember, I was a twirler). She taught me about open communication that talks a subject out until there is understanding. She talked about taking people to Heaven with you, not enjoying God's blessings alone. She would point out our blessings and how we were to share with others. I felt very supported as a teen and as a college-aged daughter.
When I was a young mom, my mom would challenge me to parent intentionally and to laugh a lot with the girls. Discipline was very important, but relationship was always the trump card. I remember wishing she could give the ABCs of parenting when Alison was born. Most of our girls' young lives mom had cancer - 14 yrs. Alison was 3 yrs. old when it began. We talked a lot about dying and made lots of memories intentionally all of those years. Mom died in Dec. 2000. She got to know Justin just a bit and she was always copying pictures of Alison and Justin. I'm so glad for all of the days of my life spent with my mom. Thank you, Lord Jesus. To all of the moms out there - your relationship with your children teaches them so much about who God is and what relationship is all about. Pass on the love of Christ!!
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