Mom, let me begin by saying “thank you” for some of the things that are very special about you.
Thank you for being intellectually curious. I’m glad to be the son of a woman who did not check her brain in the hospital in exchange for her baby. One of the reasons I am an insatiably curious person, a persistent reader, and an expressive writer is because you talked to me so much as a child. You exposed me to books and ideas and to people, who became educationally rich opportunities for me,
Thank you for not being possessive. I don’t remember your ever having pulled the emotional umbilical cord. Even though you hid your tears, I know it was hard to let me go away to another state for a residence high school and to see my sister become a missionary in another country. I understood a little more when my own children chose to explore life away from home.
Thank you too for growing with me. It’s hard to be a mother at 17. You must have struggled with that responsibility but you had a knack for reaching out to the resources around you, especially your own parents. You could have thought that you had to teach me everything, but you were wise enough to share that opportunity with my grandparents. It is a gift for which I could never repay.
Thank you too for having an “open” home, not only to your friends but to mine also. It was always easy to invite my friends over for dinner or to spend the weekend. The memory bank of meals we shared with guests in our home is an immeasurable treasure.
Thank you for helping me to know what to choose in a wife. Maybe I should thank Dad for marrying you. You never sat down and said, “This is the kind of a girl,” but your ideas and the life you and Dad modeled guided me in that choice. I saw that a good marriage is made up of open exchanges, managing differences, and an ever present expression of care and concern.
Above all, you have been a Christian mother. You had your frailties but you were always there in the crises of life. From the time you met Christ when I was only 12; there was a difference in your life. It became more visible over the years. I wrote this poem in 1963 but it still expresses many of my feelings about your sharing Christ with me.
My Mother’s Christ
When I was but a little lad, my Mother told me of Him
Who, though good, died for the bad. She told me that He loved them.
And she would come and sit by me and tell me of His fame.
I thought she was old fashioned and that her Christ was too.
I could scarcely have imagined that all of this was true.
I waited for the day to come when I would be of age
And leave my Mother’s home to star on this world’s stage.
I would pay the winner’s price for my mark on history’s page.
But I met Him one day in a quiet holy place.
There I knelt to pray and claim His saving grace.
And through the years we walk in perfect harmony,
And through the day we talk, my Mother’s Christ and me.
I often think where I might be if Mother hadn’t shared
The message of her Christ with me and told me that He cared.
Let me close this letter by thanking you for being a good grandmother. I have watched you with my children, your grandchildren, and have seen again many of the things I experienced as a child. One Christmas, while we sat around the tree opening presents, one of the insights of that holy season reached out and grabbed me: God wanted His son to know what it was like to have a mother. Thank you for helping me to understand that truth.