Those that attended our camp prior to 2010 surely remember my mother, “Nan”. She made thousands upon thousands of her special chocolate chip cookies, helped in our kitchen, and headed up transportation for a few summers. She played in the camper-staff tennis tournaments and even won one year! Her mirth, laughter, faith, support of our ministry, dedication to her children and love of God were inspiring. I don’t know of anyone that knew her that did not love her.
For the past ten years Nan has battled Alzheimer’s disease and has not been able to return to the camp or enjoy a conversation with her children, grandchildren or friends. But today heaven is a happier place today and Nan is once again able to be with those she loved; she passed away a few days ago, surrounded by three of her daughters as they sang, prayed, loved and wept for her.
I can only hope to become half the self-sacrificing parent my mom was for me. As I shared with my sons that she had passed, I realized that they had no recollection of their mothers or fond memories of them. They were unable to identify with my loss. All three were given to the state by their mothers when they were quite young, and none of them know where their mom is or what she is doing.
What a pity they did not have a mother like mine—one that taught me how to play tennis, hold my tongue, act like a gentleman and even control my temper. She showed me how to behave in friend’s home, how to do what I did not want to do, but needed to do, and how to worship. I am not saying that I have always followed her directives, but she did teach me and show me how to live. Sometimes I got it right.
To this day I can still recall the feeling of how it grieved me to disappoint her! She expected great things from all of us and demanded that we lived up to our God-given abilities and the privileges to which we were born. To my knowledge she never asked for help but always was ready to give it. She was not one to gossip, but could quickly put the lid on it if her kids attempted to throw mud at others. Never one to try to impress others and quite confident in who she was, she associated with others in our church and with neighbors who shared her understanding of humility; yet she combined this with a clear understanding that we are all marvelously made by a God who says we are precious and unique—she believed that we all have a purpose and value in God’s eyes.
To a large extent, I entered the Christian ministry because of her ministry to me. Within a few years of graduating from college, in fact, all three of her sons became ministers of the gospel. Her legacy lives on. God blessed me and my siblings with a wonderful mother.