This will be the second Mother’s Day without my mom. She passed away in October 2020 after a long, brutal battle with Alzheimer’s. When I think about Mom and who she was to me, the good gifts she gave, I go back, before the disease ravaged her brain. 

With her quick wit and outgoing personality, Mom was always the life of every party. And if there wasn’t a party, she started one. She loved to dance and it was not uncommon to see Mom and Dad “cutting a rug” in the kitchen to a favorite tune. Mom also loved to sing – at church, in the car, in the bathroom. She enjoyed cards and games. In fact, Mom and Dad taught me and my brother how to play dominoes and card games as soon as we were old enough so we could all play together. Mom and I also often played Scrabble together.

Mom taught me how to do ceramics and cross-stitch. Mom and a friend even owned a cross-stitch shop for many years. Mom was a great judge of character and taught me how to be discerning when choosing friends. She also set a good example for keeping a clean and orderly home. (Sadly, Alzheimer’s stole that ability from her early on.) Unfortunately, Mom also taught me the fine art of sarcasm and saying whatever comes to mind. I’ve been working on “unlearning” those things for years. 

A Few Things Mom Did NOT Teach Me

  • Cooking – Although Mom cooked for our family, she did not enjoy it. She had a handful of simple dishes she repeated. And she used a LOT of cream of mushroom soup.
  • Healthy eating – When I was growing up, we ate a lot of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, frozen pepperoni pizza, and one-pot dishes made with canned soup. Though there is one unhealthy casserole that my brother and I both feel very nostalgic about. I have made it a few times over the years. Mom called it “Mexican Casserole.” It involves hamburger meat mixed with cream of mushroom soup and Rotel, layered with big Fritos and grated cheese. For after school snacks, Mom kept plenty of Ding Dongs and Twinkies in the pantry.
  • Fitness – Do you see a pattern emerging here? I don’t think I ever saw Mom do exercise of any kind. Dad kept in good shape, but not Mom. The stationary bike in the garage revealed she may have had good intentions at one time. But I don’t remember ever seeing her on it.

Good Gifts from a Good Mother

My mother was not perfect. But she did some of the most important things well. She left gave good gifts that provided me and my brother with a good foundation for lives and our own families.

  1. Mom loved us unconditionally – I never doubted she loved and valued me. Mom was my biggest fan. She encouraged my hopes and dreams. She opened our home to my friends and made them feel welcome. (I don’t know if this memory should be here, but Mom was also the one who bought the toilet paper and took us rolling during slumber parties before we were old enough to drive.)
  2. She loved my father – Mom was not the perfect wife, but she obviously loved Dad. (And so was his love for her!) Public displays of affection were common at our house. I never doubted their commitment to each other. Their relationship provided us with a safe, stable place to grow up. 
  3. She loved and supported my children – When our three kids were young, Mom was a real friend to them. They talked to her about everything – especially our two girls. Many times, Mom and Dad came to stay with them when Wayne and I needed them. Once, they came all the way to Canada from Louisiana to stay with the kids almost three weeks while Wayne and I went on a mission trip to Africa. Sadly, Alzheimer’s robbed Mom of experiencing her grandchildren grow, marry, and have their own babies. Even though Mom had four great-grandchildren by the time she died, she was not aware of them.
  4. She loved Jesus – Mom had a saving relationship with Jesus. She and Dad encouraged me towards Christ and set the example. (If you want to know more about eternal salvation, see “How to Know Jesus.”) In one of her last months, even when Alzheimer’s had a strong grip on her brain, Mom reflected on the goodness of Jesus. (See “Alzheimer’s is No Match for the Spirit of God.”)

Let’s talk! What good gifts did your mother leave you?

Good Gifts Suggestion for this Mother’s Day

Looking for a meaningful gift for your mom, a friend, or family member this Mother’s Day? My devotional book, Heirloom: Living & Leaving a Legacy of Faith will encourage and inspire them. Heirloom tells stories of the past to impact our faith today. These 52 heart-felt devotions weave stories of faith and family history with Scripture, beautiful artwork, and ancestry research tips and techniques. Through these stories of persevering faith you’ll discover the potential your story has to impact future generations. Key features of Heirloom:

  • Includes 52 inspiring stories of faith from the Bible, family research, and history
  • Gives 52 genealogy research tips to help you explore your own family
  • Shares 52 biblical and practical tips to inspire you to live out your faith in ways that will impact your family tomorrow
  • Encourages you to trace your heritage and document the stories of your ancestors

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