“Give me flowers while I’m alive. I can’t smell them when I’m dead.”
–Mary Ann Welcher (1940-)
Some years ago, before my children were born (before I had even met my wife), my mother asked me what I would tell my children about her. At that time, I didn’t know what I would say to my children. But now, after these years, I have a pretty good idea. The kids, however, are not who the flowers are for. Mom, here are your flowers.
In Luke 21, Jesus watches as the rich make a show of their offerings in the Temple. Jesus was more impressed with a widow who had very little to give, but humbly gave. About this widow, Christ said, “For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.”
How do this passage of Scripture and a quote from my mother correlate? The direct answer is that in telling the story of my mother’s life, this passage is at the heart of who she is.
There are those that give because others can see it and praise them for it. There are those that give out of a sense of duty. They give not because they want to, but because they feel they are supposed to. And there are those, like Mom, who give because they want to give. They want to help others navigate the difficulties of life.
There are many examples of Mom’s giving, and there are probably a lot more of which I am unaware simply because she does not make it a practice of telling people what she has done for others.
When I was in grade school, one of my friends was faced with the possibility of being removed from his parents’ custody. I don’t know the exact circumstances, but I remember coming home from school and telling Mom. She made sure that if he was going to be removed, he would have a place to stay–with us. Everything worked out that he remained in the home with his parents, but Mom was adamant that he would not go into State custody.
That is not the only case of Mom opening her home to others. When I would visit from college, Mom would tell me to sleep in the bed and she would sleep in the recliner downstairs. She would tell me that she needed to sleep with her legs up or some other excuse, but she absolutely refused to let me sleep in the chair.
My mother also loves her grandchildren and great- grandchildren immensely. There were times when the first eight grandchildren would spend the night at her place. (My children came along a lot later, or they would have been there, too). There was not a lot of room, but an abundance of love. The kids would have popcorn, pop (soda to those of you who are not from Northeastern Ohio), and whatever treats she had. And Mom asked for the kids to come over. They weren’t just dropped off; she wanted to spend time with her grandchildren. And even to this day, friends of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren call her “Grandma.”
Mom has always found ways to support her family through encouragement. If her children or grandchildren were involved in anything, she would be there if it was humanly possible. I have said many times to many people that if one of us had an event on he moon, Mom would tell the rest of the family to go buy spacesuits “because ___________ should have family there.”
There are so many other wonderful things to say about this remarkable woman whom I have had the privilege of calling “Mom,” but it would become a book, so I’ll wrap it up for now.
Mom will always have a presence in the lives of not only her family, but many friends to whom she has offered a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, or simply a hug. She truly has “cast in all the living that she” has.
Mom, you truly are a great woman. You are loved tremendously. I hope that I have given you flowers while you are living, because you certainly deserve them. I thank God for your love and for your example.