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In My Mother’s Image
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Most little girls want to grow up and be like just like their mom. I wasn’t one of them. From the day I was born, there was tension between my mother and me. She was fond of saying that I cried all the time and wouldn’t let her hold me. I blamed her for preferring my brothers. Looking back, I probably would have preferred them, too.

We lived on a farm and as bucolic as farm life can be, it’s also hard work. I watched my mother. She worked tirelessly. She taught me the value of a full work day and the love of all of God’s creation – except maybe people. She was a private person and had difficulty making close friends and trusting. I mirror that, too.

She was “strong as an ox.” In fact, she was the family’s arm wrestling champion until my older brother finally beat her when he was 16. I never did.

She was also strong of spirit. No one envied her her difficult childhood, but she grew strong in spite of it—maybe because of it. As an adult, she managed the farm, her live-in-mother, her much younger sister, cared for two elderly “paying” patients, and four young children. My father left bright and early each week-day morning for classes at the University of Virginia.

Welcomed Me Home

I recalled her emotional strength when I went through marital problems, substance abuse, and financial difficulties. Even though we’d lived five decades with tension between us, she welcomed me “home” when I moved to Florida following my separation. She even verbally blamed my ex for our marriage difficulties—which wasn’t necessarily true, but very “motherly.” I found through it all that I too could be strong of spirit.

Even while dying, my mother showed strength when I stood at her bedside and asked if she wished hospital personnel to uphold her “do not resuscitate” orders. She was circumspect, knowing that death was not the end.

In the years that have passed since her death, I’m remembering my mother more and more fondly. I’m also recognizing and embracing the strengths I either inherited or learned from her. This, combined with wisdom from the Holy Spirit—also learned from my mother—has gotten me through some tough times.

I’m obviously a slow learner—it took me more than six decades—now I want to be just like my mom.

"(She) did what was right in the eyes of the Lord … In everything [she] followed the example of (her mother)" (2 Kings 14:3).

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By Dee Litten Reed. Copyright © 2011 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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