Growing up on a Maine potato farm, my parents both raised the four boys to be God fearing. Respect for the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
Being out in nature, working the land on a Maine family farm you can not help but gain a greater sense of a higher power. Something way way bigger than yourself. Just crank your head around at the beauty, scenery and wide open space that no man created. That you and I only are here on Earth a short time to enjoy.
My Mom was from a Hodgdon Maine farm family of nine kids.
I never knew her mother, my grandmother but heard from all sources what a blessing, joy she was to her family, anyone that met here. My Dad especially I remember remarking a lot while I grew up what a sweetheart she was. So knowing apples don’t fall far from the tree, my Mom had the same potential to be as remarkable, kind, loving, considerate.
Being simply born a good person, full of joy and kind respect is not a given, does not just happen though.
Other people may judge you as simply good. Or harshly bad with a like it or lump it attitude for your life here on out. Don’t listen to those people, they don’t define you, God does. You have a hand in working hard to improve, maintain and be a better person. My mom’s early teachings and ones of a kind lady with two girls both have helped me do that. Work hard to be a better person. And to get more out of life opening my eyes, removing worthless heavy baggage that only serves to drag you down.
Because of the world we live in, due to your and my need for God’s loving, guiding hand all along the way, we need to get on our knees. Wear the carpet thread bare under them. Check in with God daily. My Mom did that. After breakfast, coffee with my Dad on the farm home’s side sun porch or out in a lawn chair under a lilac, Mom got ready for the day. Getting dressed spiritually and materially. I watched it growing up.
In my parents bedroom there was an arm chair like your would see in a living room or den.
It was next to an east facing window with a bible, lesson plan in that chair. Where Mom would close her bedroom door and read scripture. Makes notes, highlighting text, praying, talking, sharing with God. Everyday she would like clockwork spend an hour devoting the time exclusively to working on her inside, her best prettiest feature.
She would ask for understanding with any thing troubling her. She would take her joys, blessings to the Lord and give thanks. And recite prayers for continued healing for this, this and that person. Checking in with the person hurting and needing to know someone cared, prayed to God about it. Mom’s Mom had the same dedication. Growing up I always heard hymns, a carry over of her being the Hodgdon Methodist Church pianist / organist for Sunday services. My wife performs with the same skills, dedication at home on piano and in church.
“Gratitude is riches” was by far my Mom’s biggest advise to any that knew her. Poverty is complaint. No matter how tough a Maine farm year was, or daily events wore on her, she would joyfully proclaim gratitude for everything in here life. See the good. Three times a day I count my blessings, list out loud morning, noon and night what I am grateful for because of Mom’s example. When you do, you look at the bigger picture and realize overall you and I have way way more than we deserve because of no real effort on our part. That is given to us. We work on the small stuff really in comparison.
Your happiness, love and respect starts, is generated from within.
Other people can try their dardest to make your happy. That is a big job for that person. The folks that are hard to live with, are not as grateful as they should be and you can see it on their face, the sadness or scowl. Reach out to help that person.
You never stretch or grow to share and build a loving relationship with others if you expect everyone you bump in to to be a clone, an identical twin. A differing opinion or outlook is healthy and makes you examine your own. Or can negatively trigger an emotional response that you need to examine. Your reaction where you feel threatened or not able to accept a statement that is contrary to your interpretation of the issue, topic at hand needs reflection.
God is love.
I remember reading that over and over on the wall in front of the church. Sitting with my mother, counting the words. And thinking just those three little words sum it up. Say it all. I was raised with a faith that sustains me. I felt loved. I have a strong capacity, a need to give and get love. And one by one depending on the struggle or joy situation that presents itself, I know I am never alone. And where to reach, search for help or give credit for everything going on in my life. I am grateful and that helps me make sense of it all. I wait upon the Lord for instruction, for guidance and direction.
The mother of our four children shared with me she learned early on to build high mental walls of stone around her. Surrounded by a barrier that she could barely peek up over. To protect and shield her from harm. And to keep people at a safe distance. She also told me, pardon my French, that she liked being perceived as a bitch to give the appearance “don’t mess with me”. I told her that is a lonely, solitaire exile existence. She envied my faith in God, professed not to have it and the ability to just hand everything over. To give the power and control in my life to him was something she could not do because she was not built that way. Needed to be in control.
Like my Mom, I was the spiritual leader raising the kids. Teaching Sunday school, quoting all the same scripture verses Mom incorporated in her life. Saying prayers with all four after tub time, stories and lights out so the sandman could arrive. That was my job. Lately I have thought of another of Mom’s bible verses. To lean on, hang on and not give up the faith with. That she had written out with perfect penmanship for me to stick on my refrigerator as a daily reminder.
Mom’s ultimate testimony for her undying love of the Lord happened with my two of my three brothers, wife Lisa the nurse all circled around her.
Standing around her sitting up in bed at Bangor’s Eastern Maine Hospital. The sun shining in on her with a view of the Penobscot River behind it. The Doctor coming in, announcing stage four cancer results meant a decision to start chemo today was needed. Just as serenely, with no fear or anxiety, I watched her smile. Her pretty hands always with lady like painted nails folded, wearing her Aunt Emma’s fiery opal ring with diamonds surrounding it glistening in the natural light. She looked at all four of us in the room calmly. Announcing she was leaving it up to the Lord. Trusting in her unwavering faith in God and not electing to have any further treatments.
It was time for her to be with my Dad, her husband of over 60 years that she loved with all her heart and soul. And never complained about it but must of be terrible lonely and missed so much over the last few years.
Her courage, application of faith when you need it the most demonstrated to her four boys, helped us with acceptance of her death shortly after that. Peace, faith, love and understanding. I owe a debt of gratitude to my wife a nurse who was my rock, the family cornerstone at the ends of both my parents lives. Those events make my love for her deeper, richer. And today it causes tears typing this blog post. The love growing daily because of that and many other unselfish act of kindness she extended. She misses my parents too but we were taught all the same. Not to fear death. Accept it as part of life.