Wednesday, October 13, 2010

80 Years of Trial and Joy

My mom at the Strategic Air Command Museum near Lincoln, NE
My extended family celebrated my mom’s 80th birthday last month. I'm late in getting this post pulled together, but despite all the hoopla in our home over our upcoming adoption, I don't want to miss the chance to acknowledge this milestone. I deeply respect my mother. Hers has been a life marked by suffering but also defined by perseverence and joy.

When my mom was just two years old, she was hit by a car as she sat on the curb. Her right arm and shoulder were broken, and she had to undergo surgery to repair the damage. The scars where the surgeon inserted pins from shoulder to elbow can still be seen nearly 80 years later.

Mom was a little girl during the Great Depression. Her family struggled to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. Mom tells of the many times her father and mother sacrificed their dinners so their children could eat.

To make matters even more difficult, Mom’s mother had tuberculosis and was institutionalized in Kearney Nebraska, several hours away from her family. She was hospitalized for two years. At that time, very few who entered that hospital ever lived to return to normal life. During her hospitalization, her husband, my mom’s dad, had to travel extensively opening stores for Montgomery Ward and was home infrequently. As a result, my mom, her younger sister and older brother were placed in foster care. But when their dad could be with them, the entire family slept in a single bed in a hotel near the Lincoln railway station.

Mom’s mother did get well, and was finally released from the TB hospital in 1936. Times were still hard for the family, and they moved frequently, sometimes staying just one night in a given location before having to move again. Nevertheless, what they remember is that they were all together! In 1937, Mom’s mother had her fourth baby and was hospitalized again for six months as a precaution.

Despite the challenges of her childhood, Mom and her siblings look back on that time with certainty about the love of their parents and the lengths to which they went in order to keep the family together. The four siblings are still quite close.

(Jerry, Jean, Jane and John)
In fact, they can't be together for long before they're sharing a good laugh!

When Mom was in her mid 20’s she was encouraged to go on a blind date, and ended up marrying the handsome Air Force pilot just a few months later. They quickly started their family, giving birth to my two older brothers within the first 3 years of marriage. My parents were best friends and made family their highest priority. My mom loved her roles as helpmeet (Gen 2:18) to my dad and mother of three.

My parents’ marriage held plenty of adventure. For example, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, my dad was airborne with an assignment to bomb the Soviet Union if the antagonism between the two countries escalated to the point to no return. We find it amazing my mom now has six (soon-to-be nine) grandchildren born in that very country.

After just twelve years of marriage, Mom lost her best friend and husband in the crash of a plane on which he was just a passenger. This left Mom the single mother of three young boys (10, 8 and 7). Despite experiencing this amazingly heavy blow, she persevered in devoting herself to raising the three of us, keeping our family together despite the tragedy. She lived James 1:2-3, “consider it all joy when you encounter various trials…” To this day, we all remember my dad’s death with sadness and a feeling of loss, but we also remember our childhoods as happy and fulfilling as a result of mom’s sacrificial care.

Last month as we celebrated her birthday we acknowledged the hard times she has lived through, but also rejoiced in the legacy her life represents. She has 15 grandchildren who will carry her in their hearts all their lives.

Mom - I love you and thank you for all you did for me while growing up. I'm so happy that you love Jesus, as we can look forward to an eternity together.

Jim (Mr. Beaver)


WhiteStone said...

Thank you for sharing your Mom (and Dad) with us. Amazing story of a loving Mom.

The Nordstroms said...

I loved reading your mom's life story! God is good!

Scott said...

Well Done. Thank you. I'm humbled.

Natalie said...

That was beautiful! What an amazing legacy and excellent example to follow.