July 20, 2019

How She Loved – Denise M. Ford

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.


  1. Oh Denise, this is just lovely. I so enjoyed reading your post. And what a special undertaking to write beautiful words about your mother and how she has loved while she is still with you. A lovely gesture we can all take to heart.

    Thank you!

  2. I agree with Brenda - this is such a beautiful post and a loving tribute to your Mom.

  3. Hi Denise! This is an amazing and beautiful message for we as readers to absorb. This is how I receive your words. Yes, while you still have your mother comfort her by saying "how she loved." I'm going to remember this post for a long time. My parents died a number of years ago. I never told them how much I loved them. This has taught me a lesson. I now let my children and grandchildren know they are loved. I make it a point of telling and showing my wife, every day, how much I love her. Yes, let's not wait until we are faced with memorial services to let people know they are loved. Thank you so much Denise!

  4. Thank-you Denise, I ditto the above comments. It is a wonderful idea to pay a living tribute to your mother.(My mother passed a year and a half ago.) The sunset image is wonderful!-I love how the clouds glow when the sun shines on them-no sunset is ever the same.

  5. What a model you have written for us, Denise. I have never thought of my mom in terms of the Fruit of the Spirit, but that is exactly what my mother showed us every day. Through your writing, this image that Paul immortalized in his letter to the Galatians has become more meaningful and dear to me. What a wonderful gift it is that you can share this image with your mother while she is still with you and that you stay connected with her by phone.

    I know what you mean when you say, "All of us, especially daughters, have a multi-layered, multi-winding, emotional relationship with our mothers.” My mother has passed on, but I realize that I can now begin to express to my children while I’m still here how much, and in what ways, I love them. With God’s help, I can strive to be more in tune with the Fruit of the Spirit.


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