If you have been reading my blog or if you are a friend of mine you know that I have been having an “existential crisis” since the beginning of last December. The precursor to my nervous “break-through” happened a year ago on Mother’s Day. On the way to brunch I became aware of an abyss of deep-seated and unresolved emotions about my mother.
These unresolved feelings began when my mother began a series of psychiatric hospitalizations and suicide attempts in my pre-teen and teenage years. Although not successful in taking her life her numerous attempts left a deep scar in my psyche which has clouded by entire life, mostly with a lot of misdirected anger.
Starting in December I began to face and then unravel the past hurts with my mom. I sought and received psychotherapy. For a time I tried medication to deal with anxiety and sleeplessness. Eventually I had a cathartic experience that relieved a huge amount of the burden I had been carrying.
For the past twenty-some years I had never visited my mother’s grave, just one more symptom of my angst. It was the day before easter and Loretta and I were taking my granddaughter Annie home. The cemetery was on the way, impulsively I turned in and we began to look for my mom’s grave. Twenty years is a long time and so we were unable to find it. Ben and Annie were running up and down the rows of gravestones while Loretta and I looked more methodically. I didn’t have any great expectation or ritual to perform at the gravesite, but I did want to find it!
After a trip to the office, with map and instructions in hand we returned to the general vicinity where we had been looking, and suddenly there it was. It had been so long that I didn’t remember what we had put on my mom’s headstone. Cleo Charlene Hight Wear, my mom’s name when she was married to my dad was in capital letters on the first line. The second line read: “Mom and Grandma.” My mom was a very sweet person who suffered from “smiling” depression. After her time of severe psychiatric disturbance she went on to live a life of connection to her children and her grandchildren. She babysat for my kids on a daily basis for a number of years.
When she renewed her faith and rejoined the church she naturally gravitated to the nursery. She loved children, especially babies. It was herself she didn’t like.
And then the third line on her gravestone, “Love Never Dies.” When I read those words the sob immediately escaped and I began to gently weep. As I stood there by my mom’s grave I felt her love for me echoing long past her death. My wife, Loretta stood with her arm around me as I wept. Ben and Annie put an easter egg on the grave. We hadn’t brought flowers.
And then I was remembering the love of God. The Love that has echoed throughout eternity. The non-ending, and eternal love of God. Who, knowing full well the mess we would make of things made a plan to rescue us from our mess, all because of love.
Yesterday we celebrated Mother’s day with Loretta. Cards and Mexican Food for lunch were the order of the day. I thought about my mom, and my grandmothers, and my great grandmothers, the women who held together my family over the years. They were a strong group of women who faced trials. The love they had for their children and grandchildren reverberates past the grave and touches their descendants today.
Father, thank you for your unending love and the love our mothers, Amen.