by Dee Bowman (1934-2021)
Christianity Magazine, May 1997
It’s hard losing your parents. You labor under the strain of not having told them more often that you love them. You remember all the things they did for you and sit and wonder if you did much for them.
I was home in Lubbock for the holidays a few years ago. Mom had insisted on making my favorite breakfast — biscuits and sawmill gravy. We had a fine time. As we drove away, she was still standing on the porch, waving. I somehow thought it might be the last time I would see her. She died the next month. She was a fine Mom. I still miss her.
When your Mom dies, something of you dies with her. It’s the final cutting of the umbilical cord; there is a vacuity created by her loss that no one can fill.
I got to thinking recently about some of the things my Mom told me.
”You kids straighten up!”
Who could possibly argue with the sense of that? It means making sure of your direction, not making a wrong turn. It means looking to the end of things. It means to follow the right way every day (Matthew 16:24-26).
“Don’t slam the door!”
The noise was deafening to grown-ups. More often than not, slamming the door meant we were in too big a hurry. We slam the door on opportunities and shut up what needs to be let out. “As we therefore have opportunity, let us do good unto all men” (Galatians 6:10).
“Go wash your hands!”
I hated that. Me and dirt were a couple. How could you be a kid and not be friends with dirt? In spiritual terms, washing your hands is equal to cleansing from sin. We didn’t get to eat until we had done it — and done it acceptably. It is not enough to play at handwashing — in life, or in religion (Proverbs 14:12).
“You be in early!”
Teenagers are terribly repulsed by such advice. Mom knew that there were dangers involved in late-night carousing. “Nothing much good happens after midnight,’ she’d say. It behooves Christians to “be in early, to know where he belongs” (Hebrews 10:15).
“You can’t have dessert until you’ve finished your meal.”
This little piece of advice provided the impetus for us to force down such unwanted delicacies as spinach, string beans, and potatoes. After all, they were the means to getting to the dessert. People today want dessert, but they don’t want to eat the stuff that’s good for them. They want salvation, but have no stomach for living right (I Peter 2:1-3).
“You better not lie to me.”
My Mom wouldn’t tolerate lying. She never spanked me for lying that I recall, but every time she caught me, she did worse. She cried. Lies, calculated to deceive and dupe, can be told in so many different ways. But lies are still lies. Excuses, self-justification, and even braggadocio are all lies. God hates lies.
“Quit talking and listen!”
When she wanted attention, that’s what she said. And we’d tune in, too. The person who has learned to let someone else control the conversation has learned true humility. “He that hath ears to hear…”
“You just wait until your Daddy gets home!”
Oh, how I would dread his coming. I would invite someone over, anything to keep him occupied so he might forget. I would hug him especially hard when he came home. No matter, he did his work on my britches anyhow. The Savior will come again, this time as a Judge, not a Savior. (John 14:23)
“It’s OK. I’m here!"
Storms are vicious and awesome to little boys. Loud, boisterous, frightening. West Texas thunderstorms left me feeling scared. Sometimes I’d cry. But she was always alert to my whimpering. She’d come in where we boys were huddled under the quilts and say, “It’s OK. I’m here.” Oh, what a joy is reassurance, what a comfort is found in a restored confidence. “I will never leave thee not forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5 is God’s way of saying, “It’s OK. I’m here!”
“I still love you!”
I guess all little boys do things wrong. I did. And sometimes, when what I did was of a more serious nature I’d get a spanking. I always wondered why Mom would say, “This hurts me more than it hurts you.” The seat of my pants was the one on fire. I learned. She always closed the discipline by saying, “I still love you,” and sometimes she’d cry. Isn’t it good to know that when we have to be disciplined by the Word of God, He says, “I still love you.”
I have come to appreciate the things my Mom told me. Actually, there is not one of these sayings I’ve not said to my own children. They may seem at the time an imposition, harsh, and demanding, but if you’re a good parent, you’ll say these same things to your children. They are just good advice. For all time.