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A Different Kind Of Mother’s Day

I don’t want to be in a group I’m in now. It’s the “Mother’s Day without Your Mother” Club. The annual drive to a local flower shop to pick out a lovely hanging basket with an attached sentimental personal note for mom is over. Mom died and went to be with Jesus less than 2 months ago. For the first time in 61 years, mom is not here. Can you relate?

When her initial life expectancy was 1 to 4 years, I had hoped for every last month of the 4 years. When projections after 1 year dropped drastically to 2 weeks to 2 months, I yearned for every last day of the 2 months. When told it would be 1 day to 14 days, I wanted every last second squeezed out to the 14th day. I knew she was sick, but my emotions said she was strong. Her life was one of superlative motherly strength and beauty with unfailing love, patience and good cheer. Surely, she would make it to Mother’s Day and beat the odds. She didn’t. She actually died on the very first day the nurse from hospice said it could.

Hospice of Chautauqua was outstanding. As much as we in the family wonderfully teamed up to be with mom and care for her, it could not have been accomplished without the expertise, assistance and support of hospice. During the afternoon on the day of her death, the music therapist from hospice strummed and sang hymns from “O Worship the King” to “How Great Thou Art” (her favorite). Mom’s eyes shined as she sang along singing, “This Little Light of Mine.” Teary-eyed, sitting in the room with her, I requested the last hymn: “Faith of Our Mothers.”

As my dad was a tremendous faithful pastor and chaplain, it was my mother whom I remember first teaching me the Bible by way of flannel-graph in primary church. I’m blessed when people say to me, “You remind me so much of your father,” but I love it when others say, “You’re more like your mother.”

On the day at dawn after her death, I was awakened by a scarcely audible indiscernible noise. Getting out of bed to track down the sound, I walked two rooms over, opened the door and discovered my sister-in-law sobbing softly on the bed where my mother slept. In that poignant moment, she said, “Your mom wasn’t my mother-in-law. She was my second mom.” She had her as a mom longer than she had her beloved biological mom who died 25 years earlier. Her weeping mourned for the loss of a mother all over again. Can anyone relate?

A fellow pastor lost both his parents this past year, both due to Covid. As tough as it was to lose the father he loved, it was his mother who was the glue in the family that tore at his heart. Can you relate?

A sympathy card I received so fittingly penned these consoling words: “Grief never ends… but it changes. It is a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is neither a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith … It is the price of love!” If tears could be counted, that price feels like a million of the costliest flowers in a thousand hanging baskets for mom.

The Rev. Mel McGinnis is a Frewsburg resident.

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