2018 | Week of May 7 | #1254
When she stretched out full-length standing on her tip-toes, my mom was almost five feet tall. She always lamented that she had a belt-buckle view of the world—and eyed with a certain envy those of us who saw considerably above belt buckles.
When I was two years old, knowing I was adopted, a pediatrician told Mom, “You’d better be ready for this one and have her under control quickly, because she’s going to be a tall one—a lot taller than you or your husband!” Mom must have taken that admonition to heart, because this strong-willed daughter figured out early on not to mess with, as I called her, my pygmy Mom!
We joked that I outgrew her shoes—size 5 and super narrow—by the time I was four! And oh how she loved her shoes! Heels, sandals, flats, slippers, boots, tennis shoes–you name it—she had them—and always in amazing colors and styles.
In my teen years, when we’d go shopping together, we’d go to the petite shops for her and the tall girls’ shops for me and then to the specialty shoe stores so we could find shoes small enough for her and long enough for me! We were quite the sight, I’m sure. I’m towering over the clothes racks and over the women shopping in the petites. In my department, you can’t even find mom among the tall girls and their clothes! While in there, she’d frequently take a pair of slacks off the rack and hold them up to her and just giggle. “Look, honey,” she’d say, “these are taller than I am!” And they were!
The difference in our height was also apparent in a car. I wasn’t very old when we realized it was downright dangerous for me to ride in the front when Mom was driving. The old bench-style seats didn’t offer a separate setting for the passenger side. So, here we’d be…the seat all the way forward and Mom’s little short legs still barely reaching the pedals, even with her sitting straight up and on the edge of the seat and me, well, my knees and chin almost met and my forehead was perilously close to the windshield! Needless to say, I spent a lot of time in the backseat, while my younger brother rather smugly sat in the front.
But what I remember most about my mother is that while she really was short and petite on the outside, she was a giant on the inside. She loved the Lord and sought to live a life that exemplified that she was a Christian.
She showed that giant-like character in how she cared for her family and in her care for those who were emotionally or physically hurting. How many times we took in a teenager who needed a stand-in family and a place to call home. It was Mom who made the suggestion, threw the door open and made it all work. She frequently made meals for people in our church or in our neighborhood who were experiencing tough times.
Mom had the unusual ability to see the best in people. She didn’t sit around gossiping or belittling people. In fact, I remember one time she went to a society function, and when she came home she announced she wouldn’t be going there again. All the women did, she said, was sit around talking negatively about other people. That wasn’t Mom. She was the one who frequently said to others, and especially to my brother and me, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” She practiced what she preached.
Mom taught by example the Golden Rule—treating people the way we would like to be treated— and she taught that skin color or disability or economic status didn’t matter one iota. As we lived in Atlanta, Georgia, in the 50s and early 60s, Mom had plenty of opportunity to show us how to do just that—and she did.
When Mom died in February 2002, after over 20 years of battling Alzheimer’s, I found the Bible she had most recently used. It was well worn, with lots of notes, underlines, and exclamation points in the margins and anywhere else she could find available space. I was reminded of how many times she would gather Jack and me after dinner, and we’d read the Scriptures together and pray and of how many times I had seen her sitting quietly alone in her room reading and praying. In so doing, she set a wonderful, giant-sized example for her children.
This commentary, while certainly a tribute to my own giant of a mother, is really a tribute to every mother—regardless of her physical stature—who has sought to or is seeking to rear her children to love the Lord and to walk in His ways. May those of us who have been the beneficiary of these giants of the faith remember them and honor them this Mother’s Day. It really is what’s inside that determines the size of a mother.
This is Julaine Appling with Wisconsin Family Council, reminding you the Prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”