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Tribute to Mom

I desire to be at peace with this God who is so often seemingly unknowable. Despite all we think we know about God, and all the nuances of feelings that we interpret as sensing God’s presence, I simply want to be at peace knowing there is a God…a God who loves me. A God who loves all humanity. Always has. Always will. If you have ever been loved unconditionally and deeply loved by even one other human being, you might say that experience is as close as you may come to truly knowing God. To be loved is to be at peace with God. And to love, is the greatest manifestation of the presence of God to the world.

For me, at the top of the list of my experience of God’s love is my mother, Marlene. I was born to her when she was twenty years old. From birth this woman embraced me in love every conceivable way possible. As a child to be held, hugged, caressed, sung to, and snuggled with every single day into adolescence and beyond…minus the snuggling perhaps in later years…was the touch of God in my life. From birth, to be told over and over again, “I love you,” and that “you are amazing” and “you are so good” at everything is a profound influence. The same applied to my two younger brothers as well. She fed us every single day of our youth growing up; made us lunches for school every single day through high school; gave us a hug and a kiss every single day before we walked out the door to go to school and told us she loved us.

Mom taught me about God and Jesus faithfully bringing us to Sunday School in the same church she grew up in as a child. Mom never mentioned hell or accused us of being sinners. Not that we didn’t deserve a lot of blame for a few misdeeds now and then. Sure, she disciplined us but never laid a hand on us or said anything mean spirited or personally degrading or insulting. Mom was not perfect, but I am hard pressed to come up with examples of her imperfections. She exemplified everything about God I hoped would be true of Him. All my life. Jesus loves me, this I know…thanks to mom.

Mom became suddenly ill a month ago. She came down with a grave lung infection that also revealed she had lung cancer. She never recovered and on February 23 the world lost a true light of God. I and my brothers, my late father were not the only recipients of the love of God through Marlene, known as Yia Yia to her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and many others. All the blood relatives experienced her gracious hospitality and love over the years. She was a second mom to many. Countless friends of hers adored her. Those who met her for the first time would experience the touch of God. I could not keep mom to myself. She had to be shared with all and that’s the way she was.

A few weeks before mom passed, a friend of mine from Oregon visited my mother at her home while he was down with his wife and their adult daughter and her husband. They had a few days planned to visit Disneyland and wanted to meet Marlene. My friend managed an account of hers and though they’ve talked on the phone numerous times over the past few years, they had never met. I flew down from Nor Cal as well so I could hang out with them and mom. They spent a day at mom’s and enjoyed one of her home cooked meals. We visited for hours, laughing, mom telling stories. Days later my friend texted me that after spending several days at Disneyland and returning home his daughter told him that her favorite part of the trip was visiting my mom! Disneyland vs mom: mom wins! His daughter texted me after mom passed expressing her sorrow and condolences. I texted back: “If you met her once, you knew her.” She replied, “So true!”

Having mom gone is like losing a direct link to God. I have many other links to God in my life, but none had the bandwidth to carry the love of God as much as dear mom. If any of you had a mother or father who loved you dearly and unconditionally, and I’m sure many of you did, then you know what I’m talking about here. Here’s to you mom. I’m right behind you. See you in a few. Thank you, God, for the gift of her life.

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