After more than twelve years of widowhood her health had finally deteriorated to such a point that she basically fell apart. She required 24 hour care. Unable to walk, reluctant to speak, she was imprisoned within a failing body, confined to an uncomfortable nursing home bed. She was a little woman, hardly 4’9’, who had been a real dynamo in her day. Oh, like many of us, there were areas in her life which she chose to “ignore” or put on the back burner, but my mother had grit. Often as oceans of silence passed between us I would study her face and remember the days of my childhood as I sat in her room.
I reflected upon times that when life had given one of the five of us “lemons” rather than lemonade, she would be sympathetic, but would not tolerate whining. In closing her conversations with us, her final sage quip would often be “Life is real, life is earnest”. (I never did like the earnest part). Somehow, even as kids, we knew that her insight was full of truth. Life was not fair. In fact, it could be extremely hard… and somehow we each had to learn to “deal”. So I was “dealing” while we were physically close… and yet miles apart …in that odd smelling place.
One particular afternoon as I sat and read the Scriptures, I was silently moved to tears. I had been by her side since early morning and the day seemed to drag on for hours while she slept. My heart was heavy. I knew that I could not avoid the fact that we were rapidly approaching the day which I had dreaded all of my life. We were set on a path from which there was no retreat. After pulling myself together I stood up to give her a sleeping form a gentle “hug”… just once more for “good measure” while she was with us. As I leaned over the bed and lightly put my forehead against her shoulder in a daughterly embrace, she reached up and softly cradled the back of my head. In a hushed but steady voice she whispered two words…“Be brave”. She knew I was there. She “felt” my soul. My heart was strangely warmed. She had impressed us throughout our lives to tough it out and now she shared it once again.
She rarely ever spoke to me after that. Some weeks later she passed into eternity. It took me months after that day to realize there was more than her grit alone in those two words. There was a spiritual blessing... a godly word... given to me from Heaven in that little phrase. While we were sorrowful and discouraged in that dreary place the Lord had seen and heard me grieve. In His lovingkindness He had given my dying mother a "word" to lift my soul. It was from one of my favorite passages which I somehow "forgot" in my dismay... Essentially He gave her words from those He spoke to Joshua as encouragement when he was facing the formidable task of conquering Canaan… “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid nor dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9.
Today I honor her memory and ask Him to help me continue to "Be Brave". May His Name be blessed!