Friday, May 15, 2015

Happy Birthday, Mother

Today is my mother's birthday.  I'm embarrassed to admit that I lose track of the exact number, but it probably won't hurt her feelings for that piece of data to go unmentioned anyway.  Let's just say that she is older than a couple of decades or so...and leave it at that.

Born and reared in New Mexico, she found her way to Texas in pursuit of a Christian Education degree from T.C.U.  It was there that she met a slightly older seminarian whom she married, and with whom she launched into a life together and a companionable ministry of her own.  While he spent time in the pulpit, she spent time in all those classic ways -- in the choir loft, at the organ bench, in the Sunday School classroom and ginning up the Women's Fellowship.

Somehow they found the time to start a family which, as she later acknowledged, she considered to be her primary vocation.  I was her second and final round in the maternity ward, my brother preceding me by a couple of years.  She might have preferred a daughter along the way, but she never intimated that we were anything but the answer to her dreams.  Besides, she had prior experience with boys -- growing up as she did with both an older and a younger brother.  So she was prepared for testosterone, and made the best of  it, although it hasn't hurt our standing that in addition to attentive daughters-in-law and a couple of cherished grandsons, both of us have offered up granddaughters to fill the feminine void.

But as I say, if we two sons hadn't been her first choice no one in the universe could have known it. Never  have there been two more adored boys, from childhood through adulthood.  We could do no wrong, even though we often have.

She was our first piano teacher, sitting us down at the keyboard around the second day after we were discharged from the maternity ward.
Right after we got home from Sunday School.
If we weren't the most attentive students, it should cast no shadow on her teaching.  We simply had other things we thought we needed to be doing.
Nonetheless she was a happy meeting of firmness and indulgence.  She set the kitchen timer on the piano and insisted that we practice until it rang, and pretended not to notice when we advanced the needle on the dial to abbreviate the torture.  Long after she handed us off to more "professional" teachers, she insisted that we practice and play the "serious" music we were assigned, while also promising to buy us any popular sheet music we wanted to learn.

That's been pretty much the story:  tough and tender, inseparably intertwined.  Our strictest overseer; our biggest cheerleader, encouragement, publicist and support -- through heartsong and heartbreak; through aspiration and humiliation; through accolades and disappointments, contentments and unsettlements she has been there to nudge, console, embrace and celebrate.

She might move a little slower these days than in some previous years, but her heart still beats as adoringly and warm, and she has never put down her maternal megaphone.  She is still close by in the bleachers, cheering us all on, enjoying our little victories even more than we do.  How great is that!

So today we'll do a little celebrating on her behalf -- in thanks for her birth, in thanks for those to whom she has given birth, and for all the many and vivid ways she bears witness to the image of God alive and well among us.

Happy Birthday, Mother!