April 19 is a date that means a lot of things to various people. Some people lost a loved one from an event that happened some years ago. Other folks are maimed from a senseless deed that held meaning to the person who instigated the act of violence.
Long before Waco and Oklahoma City stole the date for infamy it held a much different memory for me and my siblings. April 19 has always been my mom’s birthday. This is the first time she hasn’t been with us to celebrate.
Joan Webster was always a challenging woman to gift. We’d heard rumors that women loved flowers. TV shows and ads backed up those hints at what to get the woman in our life to show affection.
So, when the pretty yellow flowers sprang up in the cow pasture just east of the house us poor country bumpkins would gather a fistful of these dainties and bring them inside the house for dear Mom. Her response became predictable.
“Take those back outside. Those aren’t flowers, those are mustard weeds. Don’t bring weeds in the house.”
To which we would think, “Huh? They look like pretty flowers to us.”
To make matters worse she made us pick lamb’s quarter weeds and bring them in the house. She’d boil them in water and try to feed them to us as a cheap substitute for spinach. “Huh? Why is it alright to bring these disgusting weeds in the house. They don’t even smell nice.”
A little later in the year the trilliums would bloom in the woods. There was no mistaking these as anything but flowers, so we’d bring some of them to Mom to impress her. Apparently somebody pulled one up by the roots instead of breaking it off at the stem, because Mom made us shake our young heads again.
“Don’t pick those wild flowers. If you pick them all there won’t be any left to grow back next year.”
No amount of reassurance that we definitely left some alone seemed to calm her anxiety.
“Huh? They’re still sprouting and looking just as pretty these many decades later. You see, we didn’t pick them all Mom.”
Even with her quirks we still miss Mom deeply.
My brother Mike received and interesting echo from Mom on her birthday, one that brought a tear to his eye.
Mike and his wife, Sheryl, like to stroll along the Muskegon River for exercise many days. On the 19th a van stopped near them. Mike recognized the man as someone he used to work with. The woman brought a card over to Mike for him to read. It was a card she kept since she was a girl.
Mike recognized the handwriting as he read the note inside. “God loves you and has a plan for your life.” Signed Joan Webster.
Huh? What are the chances of that happening on the April 19th after Mom’s death?
I’ve heard one definition of a coincidence as: God’s way of staying anonymous in a situation.
God didn’t hide Himself very well to members of my family. We know exactly what He’s up to. A part of Mom is living on even in non-members of her physical family. This woman is a member of the spiritual family Joan invested so much in.
My mom was living proof that you don’t need a big college degree or high paying salary to make an impact in this world.
[Tweet “One life at a time was Jesus’ method and it was Joan’s, too.”]
Let’s do our best to imitate their practice so echoes of us live on after we’re called home.
Keep smiling. Wade