While contemplating this month’s topic, creating beauty with words, it occurred to me that writing a eulogy presents a time to write beautiful images of a loved one. I recalled my recent conversation with my 88-year-old mother. She had described the memorial service for my Aunt Dolly. Both of them widows following decades of marriage, they had been daily confidantes sharing emotional heartaches and happy celebrations.
Mother lamented that no one spoke of Dolly’s genuine compassion, or constant devotion to every member of her family, immediate and extended.
“Everyone who spoke gave anecdotes of comical moments about how she joked and laughed with people,” my mother said.
“What did you want to hear?” I asked.
“How she loved,” she simply replied.
My mother lives in Pennsylvania, while I reside in the foothills outside of Calgary, Alberta. We spend a few weeks together throughout each year via cross-country journeys, but mostly we visit daily through our phone calls. Often, I jot down questions or prompts I will use to steer our chats into more meaningful conversations. While she reminisces, I scribble notes so I can capture her memories.
I have been applauding myself for wisely using these phone calls to help record our family history. Now I realize I have been merely collecting anecdotes.
While I still want to write down the details in her stories, what if I also focused on her and how she loved?
What if I told her now, while she still lives, how I would write of her after she passes?
Certainly, I have sent cards and letters to her over the years expressing my gratitude, my respect and my appreciation of her as my mother. But would she want to understand more fully how I perceive her love, how I understand how deeply she loved? I don’t want you to think that I have had an ideal upbringing. All of us, especially daughters, have a multi-layered, multi-winding, emotional relationship with our mothers. Even so, can I begin to express to her while she is still here with me, that I know… how she loved.
Can I write those beautiful words for her now as a living tribute?
Because my mother has tried to live her life by the fruit of the Spirit, I will follow Galatians 5:22-23 as my outline for describing how she loved. One of my pastors pointed out that perhaps this scripture denotes the fruit of the Spirit, as love. Everything that follows basically describes what love is or what it can be.
It will become my challenge to speak of my mother’s love within this fruit of the Spirit outline. At the same time, I will inquire of myself, “How do I love? What do others see today: joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control?” Because I will be outlining my life with these attributes will others perceive how I love? Will I reflect what my mother has shown me?
I will tell her, and I will write of her. This is how you have loved, Mother. This is how you still love. I hope my words of beauty offered for her will provide a confirmation that when I will memorialize her, I won’t only remember anecdotes but how she loved.
As I drove towards home the other day, I witnessed a spectacular sunset. It seemed that God had traced each cloud’s edge using a brush dipped in gold glitter. The sparkling outline shimmered with a beauty so radiant and so searing, I felt compelled to break forth with words of praise and awe.
Hmm…I pray that I will be inspired as I use the fruit of the Spirit outline to create beautiful images that reflect back to my mother. Like that sunset, as it portrayed its light with brilliance and intensity. I pray that she will hear by those words, that I have traced her years of genuine compassion and constant devotion with a living tribute that glowingly states,
This, this is how she loved.