Saturday, May 9, 2009

Georgia On My Mind

The last time I saw my mother, in the summer of 1996, we were bidding her farewell at the end our vacation at my parent's home in North Carolina. I remember seeing her sobbing as we pulled away from the house and being strangely overcome with the foreboding thought that I would never see her alive again. My thoughts proved to be true, and I was only to have a few now precious conversations with her before receiving the news that she had passed into eternity only a few months later. The last thing I was ever to do directly for my mother was to officiate her funeral. It was a day of extreme emotion. I was profoundly sad at not being able to talk to her or be with her when she died. No last "I love you's", no last hugs, no last laughs - just the faint memory of our last conversation and a deep frustration that I didn't make more of a mental note as to the exact content of our discussion. I remember at the time of that last conversation thinking, "I'll be able to share more with her later." The "later" never came.

Though I was somewhat haunted by these regrets, I nevertheless had a true sense of peace and confidence on the difficult and heart-heavy day of her funeral. My peace and confidence came from the undeniable truth that I knew about my mother's life - She was not just a "nice" or "good" woman, she was a true woman of faith. Her love of God was strong and deep - rooted in the knowledge that Jesus had paid the price for her sin and that she would spend eternity with Him. She shared her love of Christ with anyone who would listen, and showed her love of the Lord by loving all she met without reservation. Though I couldn't remember the specific context of our last conversation, I received comfort from the fact that I knew our exchange included a simple admonition that she always delivered as we ended our phone conversations for the last years of her life. She would simply say, "Darrell, trust the Lord. Don't forget about the Lord. Don't stop giving your life to the Lord. If you do that, no matter what happens, you'll be alright. Trust the Lord! You hear me?" It was her nature to make sure that I had a grasp on the "Bottom Line" at all times.

This Mother's Day, Georgia Laverne Jackson and her bottom line exhortations are at the forefront of my mind. Her hugs, her kisses, her laughter and her words have never left my mind and her love and care continue to sustain me more than a dozen years after her passing. Of course, because she is no longer with me in this life, Mother's Day always brings very mixed emotions. My celebration is always bittersweet because I simply miss her so much. Nevertheless, the pleasant and loving memories of her love and service to our family and others bring me great joy and call me to a higher standard of faith, service and parenthood. I am also able to celebrate the strengths I saw in her through the strengths I see in my wife Luz and the legacy of Faith-filled womanhood she has passed on to our four daughters. It is that testimony of on-going faith and legacy of godly strength that still bring a smile to my face each Mother's Day in spite of my mother's absence from us and presence with the Lord. With that in mind, let me encourage those of you who are able to give your mom a call, hug her, kiss her, shower her with praise, don't hold back any outpouring of love you can give in honoring her on this dedicated opportunity established in her honor. For those of you whose mother's are on the other side of the veil, let me challenge you to use this day as an opportunity to be thankful for the woman who invested so much in making you the person that you are. That's what I am doing this weekend. Thanks to Ray Charles it's easy for me. It's just an Old Sweet Song that keeps Georgia on my mind. Until next time...