Mom grew up on a farm in the Deep South with crops, over 600 acres, and 250 head of cattle, horses, a herd of pigs, some chickens, and dogs lying under and on the porch.
She loved to ride the tractor with her Daddy, George. She had a soft spot for him (still does). He was a dimpled, blue-eyed farmer who had been a pilot instructor in WWII.
Her Momma, Mary, had served as a nurse in “The War” too. Then she served cornbread and collard greens to her family.
Mom’s baby sister was just 3 years behind her in school and she liked to tag along behind her like little sisters do. Her name was Peggy and she loved to laugh – still does.
Mom loved school, and her family, and softball. She was a pitcher – she was THE pitcher. This was because, yes, she was that good and, did I mention the town was really small? One time in the schoolyard, her arm came forward to deliver the ball and caught her skirt (yes, they wore skirts most of the time back then) and she heard a boy laughing as the hem flew up in the air. She decked him.
When she was in high school she attended a summer program for math and science at a nearby university – she really enjoyed science best. After graduating with a class of 18 others, she left the farm and went to a small state university 90 miles away and majored in Medical Technology. That’s where she met my Dad. He was a “Yankee” from Staten Island, New York. His roommate set them up on a date and the rest is history.
My Daddy served in Vietnam as a Marine Corps Tank officer. After that, he was hooked. He loved the Corps (still does). He retired in the 80’s after 21 years; but you know the saying, “once a Marine always a Marine”. Marine Corps life for him meant Marine Corps life for her as well. They started out with no furniture, no money, and she was married in a borrowed wedding dress. She lost her own dear daddy to heart disease not long after she was married; and oh how they all grieved. He was an honorable, hard-working man with a sense of humor. He left his mark on that small town and that small family.
My Momma has the most beautiful blue-gray eyes; but she had two little brown-eyed girls before she left that world she’d always known and set out on the great adventure that became her life. My family was stationed in several places throughout the South and lived in Spain for three years too. In time, Mom returned to her work as a Med Tech. She was 35. She was older than the others who were just starting out, and her resume was cooked meals and folded laundry, but her first boss saw something in her that made him take a chance on her. He was not disappointed.
She worked for over 20 years in Pathology Labs. She worked in a hospital at first, managed a small satellite lab for a time, and worked in various departments in a major national laboratory. She wrote procedure manuals and passed inspections. Along the way she prayed for (and with) the patients she cared for and her co-workers too. She learned new procedures and tests, while more and more computers and machines were incorporated into her job. She worked day shift, swing shift, night shift. All the while, she prayed for us and encouraged us with scripture and loved us. She was not perfect but she did the best she could. My Dad and sister and I are all the people that we are today because of how the Lord used her in our family.
I heard about her cancer about 2 months ago, on my son’s 7th birthday. We were eating dinner when I got the call, and I could tell she had been crying, but she was upbeat, as usual. She’d had surgery two weeks before, a hernia repair, and they took some fatty tissue from the area – it turned out to be ovarian cancer. It was surreal and seemingly impossible: she…a non-smoker, non-drinker, with no “female” cancers in her medical history? It was a shock.
But the most amazing thing was the story she told me. The week before, when we were all oblivious, Momma couldn’t sleep. So she was praying. She heard her name and she thought of Samuel, who heard from the Lord in a dream, and answered, “Yes Lord, your servant is listening”. She keeps a pad of paper by the bed and she wrote down what she heard: I am about to do something BIG in your life so that you will be starting a new ministry and have a great opportunity to glorify Me. So be ready. What we saw, when we talked about it, was how kind the Lord was to administer comfort and assurance to her before she got “the news”. It was the promise that we already knew; that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28).
Not long afterward, during my devotional time, God gave me a scripture. When I shared it with her – she told me that had been standing on the same Words! I had run across the story of Mary and Martha and Lazarus. When Lazarus was sick, and things looked bleak, Mary and Martha called for Jesus…the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” When He heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” (John 11:3-4).
By the way, we don’t believe in coincidences in my family. In fact, this happened around the same time that God used my daily devotional time with my two kiddos to encourage the three of us to bring Momma to Him in prayer. God’s Word has been such a strong encouragement to all of us. It reminds us that the medicine, the doctors, and the prognosis all belong to Him. Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You (Jer 32:17). The story of my Mom’s life, HERstory, is not finished yet. But I will keep you all updated as it continues to be written…by the Author of Life (Acts 3:15).