This is a picture of my mother and grandmother.
As I awoke this morning there was this constant tug at my spirit, that I was to share with you the most difficult piece I have ever written among all of my blogs. I am being called by my Father to tell you about my mother’s love.
My Mom was a special creation. My stepfather would often say to me in remembering my Mom, “Kevin, when God made your mother, He threw away the mold. “He was right. Mom was to me a combination of being a counselor when I needed a listening ear, a nurse when I would fall and scrape my knee and need a band-aid and a woman of a rare internal beauty.
She taught herself how to paint landscapes from the art books she purchased. She would often go without many of the luxuries other women were enjoying to afford her art books. Mom sacrificed much for herself so as a teenager i would receive my First set of Funk & Wagnalls encyclopedias.
Mom would be elated like it was Christmas morning when a new art encyclopedia would arrive. She trusted me even as a child to leaf through the stories about the different artists like Rembrandt, Picasso, Gaugin and Davinci. The beauty of Rembrandt’s painting of the Prodigal Son stands out in my mind.
The musician Michael W. Smith says the Parable of the prodigal son should be the story of a father’s extravagant love. A wayward son living a reckless life returns home not to scorn, but to the arms of a father’s love (Luke 15:11-32), Please take time to reflect upon the love the father shows the son. Our Father’s love is like that. He holds you in His arms of love whenever you need His extravagant love.
In reflecting upon my Mom she was a work of art – a masterpiece of love, grace and beauty in her Master’s hands. I loved her so much that even as I write this piece tears come to my eyes. Yet, with them in my Lord’s mercy comes beautiful memories of laughter and singing songs together like Amazing Grace. Her rendition of How Great Thou Art was filled with a boundless love for her Lord.
Mom encouraged me in my singing and writing. She told me the Lord gave me a gift, which would be used to heal many wounded hearts. I thank my Lord with all humbleness for being able to sing and write about His amazing love for me a sinner saved by grace – the grace of a Savior’s tender and compassionate love.
After 27 years of being away from school my Mom goes through an intensive preparation of many weeks of study to be accepted into Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology in Toronto. She studies to the point of exhaustion, often laying her weary head on the dining room table with her Math book beside her. I pray for her as she sleeps that God would allow her to pass her entrance examination.
Mom’s stomach feels a gnawing nausea the day of her exam. I assure her that whatever happens I will love her just the same. Mom’s haunting fear of failure hangs over her like a dark cloud. My father in his sickness of schizophrenia abuses her so much emotionally and physically that it wears away at her-confidence and joy for living. My beautiful Mom, always the fighter is hoping and praying she will pass the exam she is told many fail twice. She is determined she will make my stepfather and me proud of her. We are proud of her already.
Weeks go by waiting for the letter to arrive with her test results. Week after week and day after day my Mom checks the mailbox. No letter today. No letter the next day. No letter that week or the next. Finally, the letter arrives.
Before Mom opens it she wants our assurance that we won’t think less of her if she fails. That’s the really sad thing about abuse. It makes you afraid to fail at anything because it only serves to confirm and re-awaken those spirit-killing words of your abuser. They are the words my sick father would speak over Mom, my sister, Val and me. “You’re no good. You’re a loser. Kevin, your brother is smarter than you’ll ever be. You will always be a failure.”
We wait preparing for the worst. Mom opens the letter. It reads something like this. “Mrs. June Miller, you have passed your entrance exam. Welcome to Seneca College.”
Mom performs well on the tough exam as we all expected she would. She graduates from academic upgrading in subjects like Math, Science, Sociology, English, Bookkeeping, Typing and accounting with a 97.5 % average. She will go on to get two college diplomas.
These are two highlights from Mom’s time at Seneca that stand out in my memory. Her thoughts on race relations prompts Gordon Orr, who is her sociology professor, to rewrite two chapters of his book on race relations. The second memory is the art lecture Mom gives on landscape painting Students are standing outside the classroom getting as close as they can to see and hear her speak. Students hearing that Mom is going to be giving a lecture on art skip two of their classes to attend it.
She comes home surprised that so many value what she teaches them. I’m not. I know what my Mom is capable of. In assessing my Mom’s ability in English her teacher starts her three-quarters of the way through her English grammar book. Mom is told that she has the equivalent knowledge in English as a university graduate.
These next words are so difficult to write. I am in our apartment when Mom experiences a massive heart attack three days before Christmas 1992. My stepfather, George, calls out to her thinking Mom is in a deep sleep. He says, “June. June! June!! No response, not even the sound of one reassuring breath.
Dad shakes her. He calls 911. He immediately starts performing CPR. I fight back the tears as I write this. God’s message must get out. The Enemy won’t have the victory. There is a message of love and healing many need to hear.
The paramedics arrive. They work feverishly trying to shock my mother’s heart to start again. Finally, I breathe a deep sigh of relief as they got Mom’s heart started again.
Dad doesn’t want me to see what is happening. He tells me to leave but I stay for a while before going outside our apartment. I still remember as if it is yesterday my Mom’s ashen face with the paramedics racing the stretcher past me. Mom is wearing an oxygen mask. She looks so pale.
My heart pounds. Thump.Thump.Thump. In my icy fear I cry out to God in the silence of my terror . “Lord, please let Mom live! I don’t want to lose her! Not now. Not this way. There’s so much I want to say. Please be merciful and let her live!” Tears well up within me. I fight them back as best as I can. I must be strong for my stepfather.
It takes the paramedics too long to get Mom’s heart started again. At the hospital the neurologist comes with the gruesome news. “Mr. Miller, your wife has had a second heart attack.The scan of her brain shows that there is only 10% brain activity left. She has unfortunately developed a brain infection called encephalitis. What I have to say next will be difficult to hear. If Mrs. Miller takes a another heart attack do you want to sign a DNR order, which means do not resuscitate? That means if she has another complication like a heart attack or a stroke we will make no efforts to revive her.”
A look of horror comes over Dad’s face. As he struggles with his own tears he says, “Kevin, what should I do? I know June wouldn’t want to live like this with such extensive brain damage, but I need your help in making the right decision.”
Through my own tears I say, “Dad, Mom wouldn’t want to live this way. We need to do what is merciful. Sign the DNR order.” Something within me tells me that soon Mom will be going to her heavenly home.
Dad nods his head in agreement. With a shaking hand he signs the DNR order. Shortly thereafter, Mom has her third heart attack. We are told to say our good-byes.
First, Dad goes in. As he comes out I hug him. His tears soak my shirt. Then, it is my turn.
That ER room feels as chilly as the Arctic Circle. Mom is laying there on the metal examination table. Still. Silent. I walk over to her and hold her left hand. Tears come. I see her wedding ring. The small diamonds in it are my reminder of how God shaped His beautiful work of art.
She marries my stepfather in 1980 after divorcing my father for physical and mental cruelty. Two young sweethearts who meet when my mother is16 and my stepfather is 21 say their good-byes. Now, it is my turn.
Part of me thinks this is some surreal dream I will wake up from.
As I hold my mother’s hand suddenly I feel her fingers touch mine. There is warmth to her hand that defies reason.That warm hand is God’s gift to me. My Lord allows me the opportunity for one last fleeting touch of mymother’s loving warmth.
I speak these words. “I love you, Mom. I’m going to miss you so much. See you in Heaven some day.”
Mom was only 57 when she died.
She’s in Heavenn where her pain is no more, where there is no heartache, no more soul-crushing sadness, no more sorrow. There is only the wonderful exuberant joy of her Father’s love.
My Mom was far from perfect, but she was perfect for me. Not all of us have been blessed to have such a loving mother as I was. Yet, for reasons I don’t yet fully understand I was led to share these thoughts about my mother. I pray with all of my heart that my reflections about my mother ministered to some hurt in your life.
No matter how badly you were treated remember this truth. Just as my mom was a work of her Master’s hands, so too are you. He loves you even if you don’t love yourself. Your Lord wants you to pour out all of your pain to Him, to heal you as He is healing me.
Mom was a work of art and so are you.
Please prayerfully reflect on the words of the hymn Have Thine Own Way.
Let Christ have His way with you today .You are His work of art.
God’s peace be with you all.