Oh mom, how much I will miss you.
Your name was Ella, but you hated for anyone to know that. You grew up in the hills of Arkansas with Wendell and Odell that were twins, and a sister named Marlene. Odell was gone at a very young age of 2 years old. You often talked about having to walk to the one roomed, school house up on the mountain in the snow and sometimes barefoot, uphill both ways. I often giggled at the expression until you are Marlene took me up on that mountain to see that school house (which is still standing) and I understood. It really was in the middle of the woods and because the school itself sat down in a sort of dip in the land on the mountain, it really was uphill both ways if you walked to it. Amazing, that the building is still there, and wonderful that you took me to see it.
I remember you telling me that you met dad at a skating rink and that he ran into you, causing you both to fall down and you to break your arm. You both had such a good sense of humor and it’s because of you that my dad came to church and to know God.
I know I was such a handful as a kid and you often wondered if I would be okay. I have such a strong and somewhat odd imagination that my mind would wander away often in the middle of some important lesson you were trying to teach me. I was, at a very young age, always attracted to darkness. Witches, and vampires, all things dark were my fascination long before Harry Potter or Twilight was ever even thought of. Amazing too since you censored everything I watched. I was an odd child.
At the age of eleven, even though I was in a revival and surrounded by my peers, you were the one that noticed I was at war with myself from across the room. You were the one that followed me out of the sanctuary to the car and you were the one that held me and then led me to Christ that day. It changed my life forever and is part of the reason I am still here.
So many nights I made you worry while I was going to college and just hanging out with my friends. I was just being a teenager and testing my limits, you were a prayer warrior praying constantly for my safety. Oh how you laughed and laughed when I had girls and then called you to apologize for all those long nights I made you worry. You told me my time to worry and pray was coming because you can’t sleep when your child is out late. You were right.
I simply have no words to convey how much you helped me, how many things you taught me along the way. You had more spiritual and physical strength than anyone I have ever seen. From the time I was very small you taught me to think for myself, to reason out my own problems and stand on my own two feet. When I was 15 and a Junior in high school, you went with me and signed for me to be able to work at B. Dalton Bookseller. You did this because you knew I needed a job and that you might not be there. You had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and given approximately six months to live. You decided the doctor was just human and had no idea how strong you were or what God is capable of. You were right. You endured two years of chemo that was way over what they were supposed to give you and crawled your way back to health and working. You had cancer two more times through the years and each time beat the odds leaving the doctors amazed at your spirit and asking what you believed.
You were hard on me and made me strive to always work harder, try harder, reach for more, ask questions, suck it up and keep going. Our ways of looking at and dealing with things were vastly different and I know I was a source of frustration and worry in many ways because I approach things so differently. Yet we were learning to communicate better, to see each other’s point of view and to share new discoveries in our beliefs in our interaction with people and in studying the bible. I do not believe you were ever satisfied with me, but were learning that since I see myself as a constant work in progress, that it is okay. You told me you were glad I am a knowledge seeker and that is something you wanted to see me continue throughout my life.
You taught me anything is possible if you work hard enough, keep your integrity and treat others as you would want to be treated.
I will strive to be the person you knew I could be. Thank you mom, for such a wonderful example.