“They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.”
(1 Timothy 6:18-19)
My mother grew things well.
Cranberry-colored ginger lilies with their coordinating green leaf ensemble wrapped exotic arms around the perimeter of our patio; periwinkle-blue morning glory blooms cascaded delicately across the entire length of the backyard fence; multicolored Gerber daisies commandeered six flower beds across the front lawn beneath the shade of giant fir trees and bougainvillea blooms. I still picture my mom after a long day at work, standing in her garden with the hose in hand, sprinkling the flowers with her special dose of care.
She labored beside my father in the family business, matching his passion and looking after their staff of ninety like a mother hen with a brood of chicks. Together they nourished the company, saw it prosper and expand, and knew the satisfaction that comes from overcoming obstacles and setbacks.
When their store burnt to the ground for the second time, and the smell of smoke and cinders became an unwelcome addition to our home, my mother rallied my father’s spirits and reminded him of their dream. Together they built their store back better than it ever had been before. My mom lived out this truth: “An excellent wife who can find. . . The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:10–12).
My mother’s gift of hospitality caused the college ministry of our church to flourish, and every Friday night for a decade or so, a hundred students gathered in our home. My mother made certain everyone had a plate full of delicious food to go with the nourishment of the Scriptures. All five of her children were expected to pitch in to make these Friday nights successful. Along the way, we learned what service looks like on the front lines. Within each of our hearts, Mummy planted the desire to serve; that garden is still bearing fruit.
My mother loved people well—all sorts of people, people others hardly saw. The grocery store clerks wept at her funeral. The garbage men who hauled our trash away on Monday mornings always enjoyed the food she carted out to them when their trucks rumbled by. They mattered. Everybody who came anywhere near her was served a slice of her kindness.
My mother left school early and never earned a college degree. She married at the tender age of sixteen, did very little traveling, and never saw her role as one that was particularly important. But she was unparalleled in the business of making lives flourish. As a young mom, she turned her life over to the Savior and grew in the humility and grace only he provides. He poured himself through her, even through the difficult years when a stroke robbed her mobility. From the wheelchair, and maybe especially from there, she became a willing vessel to accomplish the “growing up” of a great many lives on earth.
Elizabeth A Mitchell
Photo Credit: Oleg Magni on Pexels