Cowboy legend Roy Rogers and his wife, Dale Evans, used to sing a song telling us that “Faith, hope and charity” is “the way to live successfully.”
Early last Thursday morning, we said good-bye to our mom, as the cancer she had been fighting for nearly a year finally won the battle. But faith, hope and charity is a big part of the legacy she leaves for her family.
Mom had a strong faith for as long as I can remember, and she held on to that faith until the very end. When we were still in school, Mom saw to it that we were ready and on time for every service at the church. It didn’t matter if we didn’t have our homework done or there was still washing and ironing to finish that day, we went to church.
As her body grew weaker, she would sit in her chair with her eyes closed and her hands raised toward heaven, saying, “Lord Jesus, please help me.” And he did, sending those who could help ease her pain and take care of her needs. Her faith that God could and would help her never wavered.
Mom always had hope. And somehow she knew what she needed to do to keep that hope alive. Not only did she have hope for things to happen, she did everything she knew to make those things happen, leaving the outcome to God. She hoped for many things: that babies would arrive safely, that traveling members of the family would get home safely, that we would have a miracle and Dad would somehow recover from his cancer, that the storm wouldn’t be as bad as predicted, that the cookies she was baking for the bake sale would turn out good – she had always had hope, whether the need was great or small. She coupled that with her faith and held on tight through all the storms of life which came her way.
One dictionary defines charity as “unselfish love, giving while expecting nothing in return.” That truly describes the life Mom lived. When she was just out of her teens, Mom came to Brookville to work at Sylvania. My aunt, who was a young child, said Mom always took something home for her when she went home for the weekend. Sometimes it was candy, or a piece of clothing or even a doll baby. But she never neglected her little sister.
Later, after we girls came along, she always had homemade cookies on hand. If we were outside playing when snack time came along, there were always enough cookies to go around, no matter how many children were in the group. Her homemade donuts and the “bouncy ball” centers were a favorite treat for us and many of our friends.
In recent years, when she would hear of a family who was having a skimpy Christmas, she always wanted to pack a basket to be delivered anonymously. She bought items to put in our shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child, knowing she would never see the children who received those gifts. She was an ardent supporter of St. Jude’s Hospital for children suffering with cancer, long before her own diagnosis. The pepperoni rolls she made for our church conventions were enjoyed by many.
My mom wasn’t perfect; none of us are. But the faith, hope and charity that she believed in, putting it into practice every way she knew to do, is part of the tremendous legacy she leaves for us, lessons that will never be forgotten.
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Thought for the week – There is no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a great one. (Jill Churchill)