Love. Wife’s love, mother’s love, sibling love. I witness love applied in very generous and uplifting ways by my mother. Do I believe my mom’s love sustained our family for a time? By sheer force, Mama Book’s strength lifted our spirits and kept out dark thoughts with anything less than positive feelings. Her love with her faith and incredible hope carried our family through dark times. Often I hear the following verse quoted in weddings, but my mom practices her brand of love in just this way.
1st Corinthians 13: 4-7 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
November 2007, just before Thanksgiving, doctors diagnosed my dad with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Referred to an oncologist to Chicago, two hours from home, my dad began chemotherapy January 2, 2008. No words describe the devastation, fear, and utter disbelief cancer brings to families.
If asked, my mom would humbly respond with what choice did I have? But she had a choice. We all have choices: to give up, give in, lash out in anger, sink to despair, denial, refusal to help or to ask if anyone remembered her thoughts or her feelings. She shed tears and sent up prayers; we all cried our fair share, but she summoned strength to push us through to the other side.
Friends and family members visited, brought dinner by, and my aunts especially used vacation days and airline miles to hold hands and give hugs whenever possible. But even with community and family support, my mom still spent lonely nights in hotel rooms and tracked medication in addition to everything else. She leaned on her faith and encouraged my dad in the process.
I remember the winter of 2007-2008 as dark. Cold, snowy, with little daylight, joy and laughter and trips every three weeks to Chicago for six rounds of chemo. My dad fought through nausea, house bound restrictions, hair loss, infection and multiple hospital visits both locally and in Chicago. He fought bravely and with deep faith, but I know my mom’s hope and strength compelled results. Her resolution powered through doubt and darkness.
My dad’s diagnosis also deeply affected our family farm. As top decision maker and partner with my uncle, my dad directed daily operations and developed financials for the future year. With my brothers not yet finished with college, my mom gallantly stepped forward. My mom partnered with my uncle and helped my dad stay connected while farm business pressed on. She embodied leadership.
To this day, I struggle to really understand generous love practiced without selfish instincts. Perhaps practice makes perfect or kids change you. My mom is still every bit human. She has flaws, but her light and love overpowers the other stuff.
Eight years later, my mom, together with my dad provides a strong foundation for our family. But outsiders see success of our family farm and often overlook my mom’s vital part in all that my family built. Her strength and sacrifice helped my brothers and I succeed and empowered my dad. This Mother’s Day and every day, thank your mom for her part in your success this mother’s day.
Kris lives in Peoria, Illinois area and works in technology with dreams of being a freelance writer or at the very least teach writing to others. She loves writing and reading almost all genres short of science fiction and textbooks. In the last few years, she has also rediscovered her roots in agriculture and really appreciates growing up on a farm. As her parents say “That gravel road got you to where you are today.” In addition to writing pieces like this, she enjoys supporting agriculture through organizations like Illinois Farm Bureau and especially roots for family farms like her own.