My mother lives in a comfortable mobile home next to my sister Jan, and brother-in-law Tony. My father passed away five years ago, leaving Mom alone after nearly 65 years of marriage. Mom is a relational person, so Dad's absence has forced her to develop a happy life alone.
Recently my sister and brother-in-law went on a two-week trip to Iceland, Finland and Estonia. I was concerned about my mother being alone so I called two of my brothers and arranged for one of us to be with her during that two week period.
I flew into Duluth on a Sunday night and stayed with her until the next Saturday morning. The time with my mom created memories I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
We talked, laughed, wept, disagreed about politics and played multiple games of 500 Rummy. At 89-years-old, she still is sharp as a tack when it comes to card games. She beat me seventy-five percent of the time.
We cooked together, visited grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and talked about spiritual matters followed by prayer.
In our time together, I learned some valuable lessons.
First, a long, enjoyable life is a result of honoring your parents.
Honor your father and mother - which is the first commandment with a promise - so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy a long life on the earth.
Mom shared with me she feels her life was blessed physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and socially because she honored her parents. She took care of her father's affairs when he entered a nursing home. She nursed her mother as she fought the losing battle of pancreatic cancer. She also took care of my father's mother for 13 years while caring for 5 children and working outside the home.
Mom honored her parents and God has blessed her with good health, a sharp mind, loving children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, marvelous friends and a loving church.
Second, I learned good health is a result of partnering with God.
Positive actions and habits must accompany spiritual disciplines. Nearly every morning Mom listens to the Bible on CD while she walks two miles on her treadmill. She works through her aches and pains with life-giving exercise. She moves better than many 50-year-olds.
Third, attitude is essential for a happy life.
Mom is not a complainer. Her motto is: You gotta do what you gotta do, so do it.
She wept and mourned over my father's death. She welcomes her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren when they visit and cries when they leave. However, she has created a life of purpose for herself. She visits people in the hospital and nursing homes to remind them they are not forgotten.
Many of those she visits are younger than she is. Many of her friends are in their sixties and seventies. They love her because she is young at heart and won't let her age dictate how she lives. She was forced to make new friends because many of her old friends have died.
Fourth, routine and order is essential.
Mom's house is decorated beautifully and is full of peace. She takes pride in caring for her home. She is also very hospitable in sharing it with family and friends. Her house is free of clutter, full of order and extremely clean. Her family and friends enjoy the atmosphere of her home.
Fifth, her relationship with Jesus has brought strength to face the challenges of life.
Mom and Dad gave their lives to Christ in their early thirties, raising five energetic kids. Mom made repeated remarks to me throughout our week together how Christ positively affected their marriage and family life.
She also gave credit to our long-time family pastor and church for their influence and guidance in each of our lives.
Last, Mom is a thankful person.
I Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
She expressed repeatedly throughout the week how thankful she is for her family, relationships, church, home, health and life in general. Mom does not focus on her losses, she rejoices in her blessings.Take some time today to thank God for your mother. If you had an absent or abusive mother, thank God she at least gave you life. Also, thank God for the positive mother figures in your life. Meditate on the lessons learned from them.