“If our family was an airline, Mom was the hub and we were the spokes. You rarely went anywhere nonstop; you went via Mom, who directed the traffic flow and determined the priorities: which family member was cleared for takeoff or landing. Even my father was not immune to Mom’s scheduling, though he was given more leeway than the rest of us.”
― Will Schwalbe, The End of Your Life Book Club
[Lynda’s note: Our hearts are heavy at the loss but ever thankful for the privilege of loving my husband’s mom, my second mom, who passed away last Friday evening. No daughter-in-law was ever more blessed than I was by her love. We will miss her, and her gravy, more than words can ever say. The challenge is made greater by the fact that my husband, now 5 months plus in the hospital, will not be able to travel to the services, though he will be there in spirit and in heart through me.
As we remember her, it’s inevitable that I recall losing my mother, now some 18 years ago. The parable I read at her funeral is no less true of my mother-in-law, so I’ll share this post again today. Please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers as we learn our new “routes”.]
In going through some of my mom’s writings and collected notes following her death, I found a notebook where she wrote down some of her favorite quotations and stories. It’s a habit I inherited and continue to this day. The story below was in that notebook, where Mom had copied it over from where ever she read it. At her funeral, we asked family and friends to read a piece or share their thoughts. This is what I read, from her notebook:
A Living Presence (A Parable for Mothers)
By: Temple Bailey
The young mother set her foot on the path of Life. “Is the way long?” she asked. And her Guide said: “Yes, and the way is hard. And you will be old before you reach the end of it. But the end will be better than the beginning.”
But the young mother was happy, and she would not believe that anything could be better than these years. So she played with her children, and gathered flowers for them along the way, and bathed with them in the streams, and the sun shone on them, and life was good, and the young mother cried: “Nothing will ever be lovelier than this”.
Then night came, and storm, and the path was dark, and the children shook with fear and cold, and the mother drew them close and covered them with her mantle and the children said: “Oh, Mother, we are not afraid for you are near, and no harm can come.” And the mother said: “This is better than the brightest of days, for I have taught my children courage.”
And the morning came and there was a hill ahead, and the children climbed and grew weary, and the mother was weary, but at all times she said to the children: “A little patience and we are there.” So the children climbed, and when they reached the top, they said: “We could not have done it without you, Mother.” And the mother, when she lay down that night, looked up at the stars and said: “This is a better day than the last, for my children have learned fortitude in the face of difficulty. Yesterday I gave them courage, Today I have given them strength.”
And the next day came strange clouds which darkened the earth – clouds of war and hate and evil, and the children groped and stumbled, and the mother said: “Look up! Lift your eyes to the light.” And the children looked and saw above the clouds an Everlasting Glory, and it guided them beyond the darkness. And that night the mother said: “This is the best day of all, for I have shown my children God.”
And the days went on, and the months and the years, and the mother grew old, and she was small and bent. But her children were strong and tall and walked with courage. And when the way was hard, they helped their mother; and when the way was rough they lifted her, for she was as light as a feather; and at last they came to a hill, and beyond the hill they could see a shining road and golden gates flung wide. And the mother said: “I have reached the end of my journey. And now I know that the end is better than the beginning, for my children can walk alone, and their children after them.”
And the children said: “You will always walk with us, Mother, even when you have gone through the gates.” And they stood and watched her as she went on alone, and the gates closed after her. And they said: “We cannot see her, but she is with us. A mother like ours is more than a memory. She is a living presence.”