"The Best Mom in the World"

17 01 2006

She was born a few years before the attack on Pearl Harbor and several years before television was a regular part of life. I have trouble imagining what life was like in 1938. A friend of mine owns a 38 Chevy – cars in those days were vastly different than today’s cars. Portland was a small city and life was very different back then.

My Mom had a rough life. Her parents brought their own dysfunctions to the marriage and passed many of those on to their daughters. All told, five young girls grew up in this household. They lived in Southeast Portland, in the Hawthorne neighborhood. My Mom loved her dolls, she loved her dog, Mark, and she loved to roller skate. She was a beautiful child and a beautiful young adult.

My parents met on a blind date. My Dad saw her beauty and immediately was attracted! Later that night, my Mom told her parents that she found the man she was going to marry. They were married on August 18, 1957. I was born just over a year later. My birth was a life changing experience for her.

From my Mom I learned much. She was very creative and had a big heart. She taught me to cook, to sew, to explore, and to expand my horizons. She volunteered as a room mother in our school, she sent flowers with me for my teachers, and she was our Cub Scout leader. She took us on field trips to see fascinating things that most kids never see.

We toured a bowling alley and saw how pins are collected and reset. We toured McDonalds and saw how french-fries are made. We toured Pizza Hut and got to make our own pizzas. We toured Franz Bakery and saw how bread is made – then we got to eat fresh, hot bread until we were stuffed.

My Mom took us to the zoo, to the Rose Parade, to Oaks Park to roller skate, and on the bus to Lloyd Center and Downtown. My Mom took us to Mt. Tabor and to Laurelhurst, and she taught us to love our grandparents.

My Mom made a big deal out of my Dad coming home from work and we, my Brother and I, always rushed to greet my Dad when he came home from work. My Mom was an amazing, loving, beautiful, and creative woman. But I didn’t always know that – or feel that way.

In my teens I began to exert the independence my Mom had instilled in me. She wasn’t quite ready for me to be independent however and we ended up in power struggles for the next couple of decades. I was trying to cut the apron strings, but she had such a love for me that it was difficult for her to let go. We struggled with this for years and there was a lot of pain on both sides.

In fact, I threw caution to the wind and severely rebelled against God and everything I held dear. My Mom would lie awake at night and pray and worry about me. Her faithfulness in prayer was incredible. It was always hard for me to admit how much a part she has played in my life. I was still struggling for independence, even after allowing God into my life.

It was about 6-7 years ago that my Mom was diagnosed with cancer. After her bilateral mastectomy, it looked like everything would be OK. But a couple of years later the cancer returned. In early 2003 she was diagnosed with cancer throughout her body. Roger and I asked my parents to move to Colorado to be near us and after much coaxing, they agreed.

As the cancer progressed, we prayed that my Mom would live long enough to see my daughter, Scarlett, born. We knew it was important to her to see her first-born’s first-born. Indeed, we wanted our child to meet her Grandma.

But I was still wrestling with the role my Mom played in my life. My parents would make occasional sojourns to Colorado Springs – about two hours from their home in Windsor – and stay with us. We made trips up north about once a month. At one point, they removed my Mom from Hospice because her health was so good and the cancer was not progressing very quickly. Then she had a stroke – last August. This was a severe blow to a woman who has had much pain and turmoil in her life. After a couple of months of therapy, she was able to get around, but with limited speech abilities, and some awkwardness. In fact, she fell a couple of times and struggled to find the energy to eat and be with people.

It seemed like a cruel blow to a woman who was battling cancer and had been fighting depression for years. But something amazing happened. She came to accept her condition. For the last few years she feared death, sought healing, and yet feared the pain of a continuing life. She waffled between her desire to be healed and her fear of life. But after the stroke, she resigned herself to her impending death. She surrendered her life fully to the Lord and lived with a peace that was beyond understanding.

A few months ago, she was once again placed under the care of Hospice and we were told she had about six months to live. It didn’t seem like she was that sick and at times we doubted the six-month prognosis. However, I looked at the calendar and realized that if I continued to visit about once a month, I would only have about six more visits with my Mother. I thought I could increase my visits when she got worse, but it turned out that she didn’t even make it that long.

In the last month or so, my Mom and I came to a peace in our relationship that allowed us to finish well. Several years ago I quit trying to make “my point,” and I resigned myself to accept her as she is. I also forgave her for the mistakes she made and for some of the pain I experienced – but I was still trying to have the “big talk” with her and resolve some of the issues. That wasn’t working – her pain was so great that she feared opening that can of worms. So, I learned to let go of my need to have that discussion.

But it was really in the last month or so that I really moved closer to my Mom. I realized that she would soon be gone and none of the “issues” really mattered. On Thanksgiving Day, I walked my parents to their car. Like a couple of times before, she and I had a deep, wordless conversation with our eyes locked on one another. But as I helped her into the car and worked to fasten her seatbelt, she began to cry. Her cry turned into deep, sorrowful sobs. I wrapped my arms around her and held her – I wouldn’t have been able to do this in the near past. It was too close and too intimate.

Several months earlier God had impressed me to allow myself to be intimate with my Mom. I was reluctant, but I knew I had to do it. I didn’t want to grow in this way – it scared me. My biggest fear of the dying process was the fear of allowing myself to be vulnerable to my Mom. Now, as she sat in the car, our eyes locked on one another, and she sobbing – uncontrollably – this was my opportunity to be there for her. We both cried with a thousand emotions wrapped in each tear.

Years of estrangement, years of love, a bond that I am only begin to understand through my daughter, and a love that can only come through a mother – all of it came flooding out. She sobbed and sobbed. I held her.

I think she was morning her loss of me – of her family. Even though she knows she will soon be asleep in Jesus, she is already missing us. I believe she was empathizing with me and the pain I was soon to feel at the loss of my Mom. She was such a caring person that it was hard for her to not empathize with the emotions of others. I believe she was living the pain and grief I was soon to feel and it was breaking her heart. She is gone and she won’t know anything until resurrection morning – but she was feeling the separation and pain of loss of that bond that only a mother and her first-born child can experience.

For years, as I tried to pull away and cut the apron strings, she tried to explain the bond she has with me. I couldn’t even begin to understand it until Scarlett was born a year ago. I still have a long way to
really understand it.

I held my Mom – uncomfortable, I was – but I held her while she sobbed. I cried too. I was determined to stay their forever. Part of me was very uncomfortable, part of me never wanted that to end.

When she stopped crying, I told her I loved her and appreciated her. It was one of the most powerful experiences of my life.


Once, while visiting my parents in their small apartment, my Mom gave me her boom box and any CDs I wanted. I didn’t understand at first why she was giving these to me. She loved music – but then it dawned on me. She didn’t have the energy to listen to music and she was bringing closure to her life. She knew I would appreciate the legacy of music she was leaving for me. Realizing that was difficult.

My Mom has been giving Jennifer numerous gifts of knickknacks and personal treasures. My Mom helped us decorate Scarlett’s room and passed on many personal treasures to help us decorate our home. She was coming to closure and had finally accepted her impending death. She was at peace – and that was comforting. I had only seen her have glimpses of peace in her life and now she was ready.

Christmas Day was hard on my Mom. She was tired, weak, and overwhelmed. But the next day we spoke on the phone. It was one of our last deep and meaningful conversations. She was doing better and we once again expressed our love for one another. Her last days were rapid, but she was relatively pain free and filled with peace.

On January 3rd they admitted her into inpatient Hospice. On the 4th, my Brother called and said she didn’t look good and I better come up. Later he called and said I better bring Jen and Scarlett. We shared some good time with her – sang songs, read from the Bible, prayed, and sat with her. She knew us, but had trouble talking. When we left, I kissed her and told her I’d miss her.

On the 8th we stopped to see her again. We were on the way to pastors meetings, but we detoured to spend some time with her. Again, we sang songs, prayed, held her hand, and spent some good time with her. The kids drew pictures for her and we taped them to the wall. She was more confused on this day.

Roger and I left Glacier View on Tuesday, the 10th and we met with the Hospice caseworker and nurse. My Mom was much more confused and had difficulty communicating. We realized she was in her last days. After taking my Dad to lunch, we returned to GVR. On Wednesday, the 11th, Jen, Scarlett, and I went home.

The next day, on the 12th, my Brother sent me a text message just after 7 pm. I was leading a small group in Pueblo. He told me it didn’t look good. As we moved into worship in our group, I was struck by the powerful emotion of love my Mom had always shown me. I realized, possibly for the first time, how unconditional her love was for me. Despite my rebellion, arrogance, and selfishness – she never stopped loving me. When I turned my back on her, said nasty things, and disrespected her – she never stopped loving me. When I was in my worst state of rebellion and showed total disregard and a lack of respect for everyone, she continued to love me. I have done things (usually unintentionally) that have really hurt her. I put her through needless worry and stress. She NEVER stopped loving me.

I realized for quite possibly the first time, how a important a mother’s love is. I realized for the first time how powerful my Mom’s love was. I never knew…

As we sang songs of worship last Thursday night, I realized how this represents God’s love for us.

As we progressed through our group experience – I knew I wanted to get to Greeley and apologize to my Mom. For years I had sought her apologies for hurting me – now, for the first time, I realized that I owed her an apology.

As soon as we got home and got our stuff together (Jen was at another small group), we got in the car and sped north. Roger text messaged me several times. Giving us updates and asking about our location. About a half hour out, he asked, “Where are you?” I knew we didn’t have much time.

At 1:11am, on January 13th, Roger sent a message that simply said, “Mom is Gone.” We arrived at the hospital about 15 minutes later.


I am comforted by the memories of our deep, silent conversations. She knew I loved her and she knew, that I knew, she loved me. I will never have another person in my life like my Mom – but, I know now, how incredible of a woman she was and how incredibly I was loved and blessed.

She gave me life and she made my life what it is today. My Mom, Sharon, was a gift from God. She was so proud of both of her boys and we are so proud of her!

Thank you Lord Jesus for letting me have the Mother I did. Thanks for the love she brought to our lives. Thanks for answering our prayer and letting her go quickly, peacefully, and painlessly. Thank you Jesus for giving us the “best Mom in the World.”




2 responses

20 01 2006
craig bennett

G’day Gary,

I am sooo glad that you have made peace with your self and your mom. Now that you know your mothers love and forgiveness, you need to ensure you have accepted that forgiveness and forgive your self for all and every thing you ever did, after all , our Lord already has.

May the Lord bless you, keep you and make his face shine upon you all, and may you truly release all the pain of grief and not hold back any whatso ever.

Praying for you and your whole family, and may you not hold back any of your emotions from your family, may you not retreat from your wife emotionally and physically, may you be strengthened to truly turn to her, for her to minister to you and you to her.

Blessings and i truly am sorry to hear of your loss.

Your aussie friend, craig

23 01 2006

Thank you, Gary for bing humble, vulnerble and willing to publish your story. While I personaly know a lot of it and more. Cuz we were/and are best friends, I can say that I am proud of you and the growth you have allowed in your life. That growth is usually painful, and very hard work. God has certainly taken you and me on one wild ride in an effort to get our attention over the past years.

Your story really got me to doing some soul searching. I knew of your struggles, and you know I have them, although different, with my mom too. However, I must say that you have had the chance to come to terms and acceptence that I have not accomplished–yet. I don’t even know where my mother is let alone have a desire to see her, but your story and the loving way you told it is causing me to want to see if there is even a possibility that she could reconcile with me, or that it would even be safe to contact her. But, you know Joseph–in the Bible–forgave in his heart long before his brothers showed up unexpectedly. And, I must do the same. I will need to regrow a love for my mother that is more than the love I have for all human life, for I do not have feelings for her more than I would have for any stranger, except that I pity her in her hell that she has created. I would like to see her set free from that and enter the world of those who are healed completely by the great physicisan, Jesus Christ. If that happens, we could have a relationship and be reconciled. I would like that, cuz every guy is sopposed to love his mother, but I am left out of that club, and want in real bad.

Thank you for sharing with all of us the struggle and final resolution and reconciliation that you have been willing to allow to happen in your life. I know it hasn’t been easy for you, but then God didn’t promise us a rose garden. I’m proud of you for the hard work you have done in working through the stuff that has been so long between you two. It’s an encouragement to me in a very personal way to hear that you did it and did it well. I’m proud of you and am honored that you are my friend inspite of the stuff that I’ve done and the neglect I laid on you over the years. I really let you down when I didn’t come to our class reunion. I wanted to, but was too scared to step out–how selfish of me. I’m sorry for that. I pray that you will forgive me for not being more conciderate of you and your needs in that social situation.

I will do all in my power to be at your mom’s memorial service, as I really liked your parents and your mom was always so helpful to me and gracious and non-judgemental when I had the chances to meet her over the years. I’m a little jealous of you that you have been able to stay in relationship with her especially in the latter years of her life and that you could come to respect her limitations in where she could go as far as your ralationship was concernecd. Your are a good man, Gary and the world is a better place for it. I’m glad your wife and daughter have a man in their lives who is an overcomer.

You are in my Prayers.

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