As we enter the season of thanksgiving, we thought you might like to read this email that Ed Welch sent to CCEF colleagues after his mother passed away in September. Her blessings to him will leave you feeling blessed as well.
I just received news that my mother died this morning. She was 84 and had been at Quarreyville Presbyterian Home in Lancaster County. Her mind had been erased by strokes over the last few years. It had been about 8 years since she recognized me or my sisters.
Heroic in many ways. A lover of Jesus. She grew up in West Philadelphia, dirt poor. The second of four children. Her father left the home before she was a teen and I don’t think she ever saw him again. But she never complained about the past hardships. Instead, I would always hear about how much fun she had making cookies with her younger brother, Tom.
As the co-valedictorian of her high school class she was given a full scholarship to Penn. She deeply desired to be a teacher. Her mother, however, said no – which I have to admit still bugs me a bit, and I know it was a disappointment to my Mom. The reasoning was that my mom needed to make money for the family (her older brother had been severely wounded in WWII and wasn’t able to work at the time).
She met my father at Philadelphia College of the Bible (now PBU) night school. Had a daughter Donna, then me, then Carol. She was self-deprecating and self-giving, both to a fault. The best and most prepared teacher I have ever met (never had a note, memorized every word) – every girl in the church looked forward to having her as the 7th grade Sunday School teacher. She was also the best women’s basketball player I have ever seen. Put her on the wing, near the three point line, two-hand set shot, swish, money in the bank.
Ask me to tell you the Pssst story. I will try to get through it without crying.
When I married Sheri, my parents weren’t able to come, so I decided to talk about my dad and mom to the people who attended our ceremony. I got through the part about my dad easily. Not that I didn’t like him; I just wasn’t emotional about it. “My mom …” that was as far as I could get.
In an age when so many people have experienced so much hardship because of parental cruelty or neglect, I am almost embarrassed to admit that she was an unfailingly loving mother. I remember on nights when she hadn’t yet spoken personally with me, at least as much as she had hoped, she would come in my room, ask me questions about the day, and when I was getting groggy she would take up the conversation on her own, always about interesting things, knowing that I would nod off before I could respond, but that was fine with her.
Imagine this if you can. She asked me personal questions about my life everyday from the moment I can first remember until the day I graduated from high school. Everyday. And she was always interested in what I had to say. Everyday. Everyday. That still amazes me. And I am sure she did that with my sisters, my father, and many others. After I was married, she seemed to take less interest in me as she redirected her attention to Sheri, then Lindsay and Lisa. Not that I minded. I couldn’t think of a better reason to be neglected. She must have known me well – her love for them was the best gift she could give to me.
Though we hadn’t had a conversation in years, it is still hard that she is gone. But I am grateful, deeply grateful, to know for certain that she is with Jesus and like Jesus (1 John 3:2).
I have been blessed.
September 25, 2009