A Mother’s Words

One of the values of being a writer is that the words can live beyond your lifetime. This is both a scary thought to me and a comforting one. Hopefully, the words I write leave the world a better place because someday they will be all that is left of me. My only mark on the world. The only part of me to live beyond myself, my kids, or my grandkids. My words are what people in the future will read to deduce what was happening in our world at this moment. What I write on paper (or screens) will live for generations. Words are that powerful.

Most of mine are tucked away in my computer. So many books started! So many pieces unfinished! Likely, much of what I have written will never be found or published. However, you never really know. That is the mystery of story. The written word, locked away, until suddenly it is found. Discoveries are made all the time of forgotten history. Some change the way we view everything. Letters, diaries, scrolls, articles…once forgotten, then found and shared for fresh perspective. The authors of such work are long gone, but their words live on to tell the stories.

Recently, Dad gave me pages and pages of paper he had found. The words on them were typed with a type writer. I recognized the font and the uneven distribution of ink. I remember typewriters, and how much effort it took just to get one page with no errors, much less a whole document. At the top of the first page was the title and author, The Giant Jigsaw Puzzle by Martha Hunter. It was dated 1977. A manuscript. A glimpse. A story. A book. My mother’s book.

I vaguely remember her writing this book. I was a teenager with much more important things on my plate that what my mother was writing. I didn’t really know she was a writer, just as I didn’t know her mother was a writer, too. Each time I come across pieces of my grandmother’s writing, poetry, or stories it is like opening a time capsule. Letters in the family bible. Bible study notes in a notebook. Poetry in a journal. All of it there in longhand for me to discover.

This time, it is Mom’s words on the pages. I am in the unique position of discovering her words while she is still here, but not here. It is an odd feeling. I’d love to be able to converse with her about her book, but that precious time has passed and I missed it. Instead, I am left with the words on the pages and how they contain threads of my own writings. Some of the very same scriptures I cling to, are here on these pages. Some of the very same thoughts about God, right here in my hands in black and white. It feels like communication to me. Like I am in her brain and she is in mine.

As a kid, I didn’t understand that parents were still growing and developing. They were becoming, just as we were. Now, I know it to be true. No one is stagnant in their own story. Life keeps happening, and therefore, we cannot help but be changed as our life experiences increase in number. This book of Mom’s is a snapshot of her spiritual thoughts during my childhood. I know she continued her faith journey from that time to this. She transformed her beliefs over the years and they transformed her, but these words give a glimpse into her foundation. I can see how much they influenced my own, even though I barely took notice at the time.

I imagine my kids, someday stumbling across my files and files of words. I imagine they too will see themselves within the words. They are very much a part of my story of growth and change. I hope they will recognize me there. And have fond memories of me sitting at the kitchen table banging on my computer writing away, amidst the craziness of life. They will have a timeline of my own growth and change, for better or worse, to do with what they like.

As for me, I chose to publish Mom’s book as her Mother’s Day gift this year. It is a Snapfish project I have been working on for a bit. I know she will not be able to read it, or even to recognize they are her words. I am hoping she will connect with it in some way, but I am not expecting it. She might linger over the photos if she is having a good day, but even if she doesn’t, it is important that her dream of putting the words out there is fulfilled, even if there are only three copies. Even if she consciously doesn’t recognize her work, I think her spirit will know. Her words will be dispatched into the world and you never know where they will end up. I trust the power of story to go and find its place.  

I know you are wondering…The Giant Jigsaw Puzzle is part devotional, part memoir. Sound familiar? The premise of the book is that God’s Great Love is found in the interlocking pieces of our lives. It is what holds us all together, and that as we examine each piece of our lives, they will fit into the framework of his love. Therefore, when we experience pain, we will not fly apart, but be joined to his love. She identified 10 types of love that make up his Great Love. Each one has scriptures and then a little paragraph or two of her thoughts. Her conclusion is that we do not need to work for the gifts God gives us because they are gifts. We simply need to recognize his gifts are already inside us and accept their presence in our lives. Pretty good stuff! I debated whether I should revise/edit this work, and in the end, I left it as it was. They are her words alone.

I know Mother’s Day is fraught with heartache for many. Women who have lost children. Women who want to be mothers but cannot conceive. Women who are single mothers doing it all alone. Women who have lost their own mothers. Women who are caring for mothers who do not know them. Mother’s Day is not always a Hallmark kind of day. (In fact, I pick cards based on their pictures now not the words, since Mom can’t read it doesn’t matter what the card says.) Motherhood is more than a Proverbs 31 sermon and a rose at church. It is a day on which many have to brace themselves, just to get through it.

Yet, most of us want to acknowledge of the sacrificial work Mothers do/did. And more importantly the relationship we have/had with our mothers. My mom may not know who I am anymore…. but I still know who she is. On this day, that is all that matters. She is my mother who has loved me my whole life and even now that I am a forgotten person in her world, she loves me still. I can feel it. She can’t identify me, but motherhood is a connection deeper that words and even actions. It is a forever bond. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms who are either here on this earth or in heaven…and for those, like mine, who are in between.

7 thoughts on “A Mother’s Words

  1. Michelle,
    You are both kind and thoughtful in honoring your mom. I am so glad you gave her this remembrance. You manifest all the beautiful qualities that your mom have always shown. Thanks again.❤️

  2. We saw the book Friday night at dinner when your Dad shared it with our group, and it is lovely! You did a great job and made a sweet memory and keepsake – more than that, a testimonial to your Martha’s life – so sincerely centered on God’s love.

  3. How cool to find out writing is in your blood. Love your thoughts and how you honored your mom through this book of hers. Well done,

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