Happy Mother’s Day!

I married my mother! Whoa! Before you start thinking Oedipus, let me explain. Cindy is the only person that I know that is like a mirror image of my mother. There’s plenty of evidence that men and women alike seek a spouse that resembles the parent of the opposite sex. So, I’m not weird. I’m just giving my mother an extra compliment by marrying someone like her.

Cindy is such a super mom. She has tirelessly given of herself to all four of her children: Narcie, Josh, Caleb, and me. Well, I do like a certain degree of mothering. What guy doesn’t? Cindy does it well for the whole family. The truth of the matter goes beyond us four when I think of our wonderful son-in-law and daughter-in-law: Mike and Karen. I also witnessed Cindy’s untiring care, like a mother, to her own mother during her last 8 months of life.

This Mother’s Day is a milestone. So much has happened over the last two and a half years since the fateful summer of 2008 when I was a nominee for bishop. The whole process and coming in second was a mixed bag of emotions. However, as I ponder what has happened in this short period of time, I’d say it’s been good to have stayed in South Carolina, and we’ve gotten so much cared for in anticipation of whatever happens next year. We’ve had two births, Evy and Kaela. We’ve had two graduations, Caleb and Karen. We’ve had two funerals, her beloved Mom and my brother. Cindy’s had 3 surgeries and is finally fine. Narcie’s brain tumor is a prolonged anxiety that calls us to constant prayer. I’ve had a trip to the Philippines and Mozambique… and well what haven’t I had? The answer is that I haven’t had many awful things because I’ve been so blessed, and one of the most significant blessings for not just 2 and one half years, but through 35 years of marriage has been Cindy. Our 35th anniversary in late December and our trip to New York was a great salve on much of our wounds of the last 2+ years. Cindy’s support has been a bulwark in a crazy world.

My mother did the same thing for my whirlwind family. My mother was steady and full of unconditional love. She was so tenderhearted. Mother taught me about helping the poor and showing grace to the weak. She was a real lady with appropriate modesty and humility. She had an eye for beauty and fine things. She could decorate a hat when hats were in, and always had a new Christmas theme for the stairway banister. She loved history and made sure that I went to art classes even when I resisted. She also had a green thumb that could grow anything!

She was fun, too. She went camping with the guys and took us to Augusta for a variety of treats. Mother was the most knowledgeable person in town about the perfect route for Halloween candy. She knew just which houses to visit. The car was always full of greedy little gremlins. Every year I had a waiting list of people who wanted to go with us. She humored our every request, even when it wasn’t on her schedule. As a matter of fact, I think we were her schedule.

Mother did have a bit of a temper although she never spanked me. She was too loving for one to deliberately disobey. One time I did get sassy and got a smack across my head. As soon as I landed on the ground beside the sliding board, she was cradling me and apologizing. Believe me, once was enough. I didn’t get sassy again.

She had an opinion and words were sometimes pointed for those who had violated the parameters of southern gentility. My father was the usual recipient of those remarks. Cindy and I sometimes act out these vignettes in their honor, calling each other “Ralph” and “Sadie” tongue in cheek. Mother was spiritual and spicy, a lady and a tom-boy, and a lover of arts and crafts while being just as handy with a hoe, lawnmower, or garden tiller. We loved her, and love her still.

She fought illness with such grace and without complaint. She endured pain and despair with quiet hope. Mother kept loving even when her idyllic world began to show its age. She never lost her enormous sense of humor. I can relish her insatiable laugh in my mind’s ear right now. She lived a motto that we could all bear to emulate: “Ever she sought the best, ever she found it.” That was my mother, and that’s my wife. I am grateful.