Remembering Mom

The Maddock family, circa late 1960s (missing my brother, Pete)

From left, front: me, my sister Judi; back: Mom (Mary), Dad (Pete)

Her children rise up and call her blessed. – Proverbs 31:28 (ESV) 

My mother wasn’t the cuddly, “warm fuzzy” type. She was a strict disciplinarian who found joy in family, faith, hard work, and music.

She didn’t need an alarm clock to awaken her at 5 a.m. Her biological clock did it for her. She woke up wound up, kept wound up with pots of coffee, and finally wound down after the dinner dishes were done.

 Back then, there were no dishwashers, automatic washers, and clothes dryers. Dishes, pots, and pans were washed and dried by hand, then put away as soon as the meal was done. Clothes were washed in a wringer washer and hung on a line to dry. When the weather was cooperative, they sashayed in the outside breeze (after a finger-wagging to heaven from my mom—“Now don’t You let it rain!”). When it wasn’t clothes-drying weather, they hung from wire lines strung through the basement.

Mom never left a job for the next day, unless it was a major project, like knocking old plaster off a wall with a crowbar to prepare it for new plaster. She could snore away on the sofa in peace every evening because her work for the day was done.

Paydays meant trips to the bank, the grocery store, the utility company, and wherever else money was owed or something needed — and she walked because she didn’t drive. Dad tried to teach her, but she ran the car into a telephone pole and refused to get behind the wheel again. We used no credit cards. If the store extended credit, the bill was paid on payday.

She did not have a job outside the home. Her house and family were her job. She was the family accountant and, because of her childhood poverty, knew how to stretch a dollar. So when Dad was laid off, she knew how to tightening our belts, with using toilet paper for facial tissues and serving meatless meals, such as bowties and cottage cheese or tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches — still two of my favorite meals today.

Technology was on the distant horizon. No one was tethered to an electronic device 24/7, so I had time to learn to play the piano, visit with Baba (our grandmother) across the street, go to the library, and read to my heart’s content.

Life was simpler. We were taught to obey and respect our parents and teachers. If we didn’t, there was a leather strap in a kitchen drawer that was to be avoided at all costs. 

“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed better than silver or gold” (Proverbs 22:1) was one of the Maddock family mottos, as well as “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12).

I never realized how much my mother modeled the Proverbs 31 woman until I sat down to write this column. 

I only wish Mom were alive today so I could tell her, “Many women do noble things, Mom, but you surpassed them all. I love you. Thank you for teaching me, by example, how to be a wife, a mother, and a woman of character. ”

 Help me, Lord, to be a Proverbs 31 woman. Amen.

Read ands reflect on Proverbs 31: 10–31.

From God, Me, and a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

It’s Lilac Time

Our lives are a fragrance presented by Christ to God. –2 Corinthians 2:15 (NLT)

When we first moved to the country, my mother-in-law gave me a small lilac bush, an offshoot of one that grew in her yard. I planted it in the ground at the front corner of the house, upwind, so the soft spring breezes would carry the heady fragrance of the flowers through open windows. After being closed up all winter, I reasoned, the house would smell fresh and clean. 

It didn’t quite work out that way. The first few years, the bush grew, but not the flowers. The transplant needed to take to the soil and grow a strong root system before it would blossom.

Then there were the years an early spell of warm, summer-like weather coaxed the buds out, but then a heavy frost would freeze the blossoms. We still got flowers, just not as many. 

Each year, the bush grew taller and fuller. Each year, I’d open my windows, but somehow the sweet scent of lilacs didn’t fill the house as I’d envisioned – until 25 years after I planted it. Perhaps the bush needed time to mature. Fragrant purple blossoms now cover the bush, which is nearly 20 feet high and 10 feet across, dominating that corner of the yard. And the sweet smell of lilacs fills my home day and night. At last.

My lilac bush and I are alike. When I first became a Christian, I wanted to set the world on fire for Christ. I was bold, enthusiastic, hungry for God-knowledge, and wanting to share what I had with everyone around me. I had dreams of packing up my guitar on going on the road, singing the songs I wrote and telling audiences about God. Didn’t Jesus tell command us to go into all the world and tell others about Him? 

But things didn’t work out the way I’d envisioned. Three months after I told God I’d do anything for Him, I was pregnant with our third child. No going into all the world for me. My guitar would have to idle in a forgotten corner, my music on a dusty shelf, while my fingers busied themselves, not with plucking strings, but diapers, dishes, dust rags, and dirty clothes. 

But those were good years – in hindsight, the best years of my life. I spent a lot of time in the Word and on my knees. Like the lilac bush, I needed time to mature, to grow my roots deep in Him, to weather the extremes of life. Funny, but now that my children are grown and I have the time and opportunity to do what I dreamed of so many years ago, I find myself wanting not to go into the world, but to stay home. 

But God has spent decades getting this lilac bush ready to do what He called me to do (and it’s not singing), and I must obey His call. It’s lilac time.

Dear God, let my life be a sweet-smelling fragrance to the world around me. Amen.

Read and reflect on 2 Corinthians 2:14-17.

© 2011, 2023 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Image by Nicky ❤️🌿🐞🌿❤️ from Pixabay