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Meditations on My Mother

Meditations on My Mother

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Published by Russell King

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Published by: Russell King on Feb 27, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Meditations on my mother.
By Russell KingIn the book of Luke, as we’re told a few stories about Jesus as a boy, we’re also told “His mother stored up all these things in her heart.” More than that, we’re told “she treasured all these thingsand pondered them in her heart.”When I think of my mother, I think of that scripture. She treasuredthe life of our family, she pondered it in her heart. She was thekeeper of our family story, and she kept it as you would keep thething you love most. She knew our joys and our pain, she knewwhere we had been, what we had come through and whom we had become. And she kept the story documented by photos, letters,clippings and little items saved over the years others have longforgotten. People without understanding, without eyes to see, sawit as clutter, but in fact it was treasure. Our treasure. Our lives.One of her favorite stories, and one of mine, happened when I wasabout 6. We had an especially hard winter that year, and to burnoff some of the pent-up childhood energy, Mom would chase mearound our unfinished basement. I’d run around and weave between the metal support beams, laughing hysterically andcheerfully calling “Catch me, Mommy! Catch me!”She chased me around, letting me stay just out of her grasp, thenswept me up into her arms, kissed me, and set me down to runsome more. It is a memory that feels like a metaphor.As I grew, I went my own way, started my own family, left mychildhood behind – but never too far behind. Mom and I, over theyears, made certain that she was always just one step away, alwayswithin reach. Just beneath the surface of my today, there wasalways our yesterday; just beneath the surface of her son, there was
always my mother.My mother came into this world, the first, but the smallest, of threesisters born that day. She was given the name Mellidean AlvaCripps, but for the first half of her life, they called her “Tiny.” Thefunny thing is, her stature was the only thing about her that wastiny. Her heart was big. Her love was bigger. Her generosity wasenormous. Largest of all, however, was the role she played in our lives and the place she occupies, even still, in our hearts.She grew up on a fruit farm coaxed from the sandy soil near Alpena, Michigan. In her youth, and on that farm, there was a lotof work but very little wealth. The eldest child in a large family,her childhood ended too soon; growing up through the GreatDepression and a world war, her childhood was marked byhardship.You might expect that a human heart planted and nurtured under those conditions would emerge as hard as the soil of sun-bakedAugust fields, but in this case you’d be wrong. In this case thefruit harvested from the Cripps Berry Farm was a will as strong asforged steel in the service of being soft, of being warm, of beinggentle. What emerged was a woman as tender as a kiss, as sweetas the fruit she picked and as constant as the waves of nearby LakeHuron.I suspect my mother was mostly a product of her mother. Never did I hear her speak to or about her mother, Lillian, with anythingless than the highest possible regard. Her respect for, her devotionto, and her love of her mother remained, throughout her life, alarge part of who she was.In fact, love – and love in a great many flavors – seemed to be thegenesis of my mother’s life force.
Her love of her mother and her brothers and sisters both touchedme and impressed me.Her love of her husband surpassed, I think, the epic loves we readabout in poetry, novels and myths. That love, by the way, wasinitiated by her love for the man who would become her father-in-law, Roy King. She often told me that she gave Dad a chance only because she so admired his father and she thought the son mightturn out as well. Her theory, it turned out, held true.Her love of the Earth was overwhelming. She may have left thefarm to follow Dad into the ministry, but the farm never left her.Wherever she was and whatever else was going on in her life,Mom was growing things. Many things. Amazing things.Beautiful things. From tiny flowers to towering trees, Mom wasalways planting, always nurturing always tending to some life thatneeded her.Four things in particular needed and received her nurturing – my brothers, my sister and me. And, yes, her love of her children wasanother driving force of affection in her life. Even Bonnie Rae,our baby sister we lost on the very day she was born, was a dailyobject of Mother’s love. Mom never forgot, never stopped caringfor, that to which she gave life, regardless of how brief that lifemay be or what course that life may take.And, of course, Mom’s life was driven by the passionate loveaffair she carried on with God. The two of them, Mom and God,seemed always to be on the best of terms, in constant contact andsharing an exceptional love. I think there were only two momentswhen Mom was angry with God – when she lost Bonnie and againwhen she lost Dad – but there never was a moment when the loveshut off, never a time when the communing stopped, never a nightwhen her faith was in peril.

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Hi Derek! Ws great to see you.
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