My most treasured attributes, the things that positively make me who I am, those things came from the influence of a totally unnoticible, uninfluential woman that I called “Mom”. Sometimes the greatest thing we do in life is simply the investment we make in someone we love.
Though she had only been gone 2 years, I immediately stopped grieving my mother when my wife died. We tend to grieve our greatest loss in the forefront, but the remnants of loss remain as a residual. After a couple of years I circled back on that grief, because you never escape the grief process, you either face it or delay it.
No single person influenced the direction of my life more than my mother. It was her presence in my life. Even when I lived in Indiana and she lived in Florida, she was present in my life, her presence affected me. Knowing she was accessible by phone or a short plane ride was a comfort to me, but more than that, her presence in me just always influenced me.
Because of her presence in the world, I knew someone was proud of me, someone would care even if no one else did, someone was interested in the details of my life. Someone would read every blog post, listen to every podcast, and dote on every detail of my life. You know, I have a few people in my life that care about me and everything I do, but mom cared about everything in my life, everything, like no one else ever can or will.
When I was a little boy she was present. My kindergarten rented or borrowed classroom space from First Baptist Church. As a kindergartener, when I walked out of First Baptist at the end of my day I knew I would see a white 1963 Ford Fairlane with a red accent stripe and white wall tires parked at the curb in front of the church. I knew that sitting behind the wheel of that car would be a woman with permed and styled dark hair, and cheap drugstore sunglasses, that I called “Mom”, waiting for me. She was present.
In second grade, near the end of the day, I would look out the second story window of Mercer School to see if she was there. I always saw a white 1968 Ford LTD with a dark green roof, and a driver sitting behind the wheel. She always parked in the same spot at the curb. She got there early so she could be in the same place so I could find her. She was present.
She didn’t really express a lot of outward affection, because I don’t think she got much of that when she was a little girl. She raised her children one at a time, so she was able to cater to what I liked, she wanted to. She babied me too much, probably, but in the long run it didn’t hurt me. She was present in a loving way. At times a bit over protective, definitely worried too much, but it was because she cared, a lot.
When I was a young teenager Dad abandoned us. I haven’t written about that much because in the end, Dad and I became close. During that time, Mom just couldn’t cope with life and the situation we were in. She was medicated a lot. The mom who doted over me and was always there just wasn’t anymore. I started down some wrong paths… and then… the greatest gift she had ever given me kicked in. When mom just could not emotionally be there, Jesus Christ was. The Spirit of Christ kept me. Everything eventually worked out and got put back together. Every Christ follower has a story of a time when Jesus became real to them. I unapologetically appreciate Christ who lives in me. It’s not dogma or doctrine, it really is just a redeeming and transforming relationship.
My mother had a daughter (my sister) that she loved very much, and when she was nearly grown Mom wanted another child. For some reason she felt she was supposed to have a boy. Like Hannah (1 Samuel 1.11 in the Bible), she prayed to God for a little boy and she promised that if He answered, she would dedicate that boy to the service of the Lord. When she was 32 years old God answered her prayer. God spoke to my mother saying in essence, “I am going to give you a boy and you are to name him David, for he will be a man after my own heart.”
When you grow up hearing a story like that it affects your life. Some moms encourage their sons to be great leaders, great athletes, great students, or successful business men. My mom… well, she always encouraged me to have a heart for God. All of the other things were fine, but nothing even came close in importance to loving and serving God. This has so impacted my life that as a young man I came to be known as “Dave”, but one day the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “I told your mother to name you “David”, not “Dave”. From that day forward… I am David.
Mom is still there. She’s been gone for 7 years now, but she is still present in my life. The other day, Donna and I published a podcast. Something in it would have made mom proud of me. That fleeting thought that all of us have had who have lost someone important flashed through my brain, “I need to tell mom about this.” Just as quickly as the first thought flash, the second reminded me that was not possible.
We make an invisible imprint on people’s lives. Mom was introverted, she had zero self-confidence, she worried about everything, she was afraid, but she trusted God with an uncharacteristic and incredibly bold confidence. She was the poster child for embracing weakness so the power of God can be demonstrated through us. This is the “thumbprint” she left on my life. We don’t have to be dynamic or impressive to make a difference, my mom was neither of those, but she cared a lot, had an unbelievably strong faith… and she was present.