My Mom's name was Stephanie, but she preferred Nancy. Why I don't know. As I write this it is the first time I thought of her real name in many years.
She had two sons and two daughters; Mary Lou and Gloria, Michael and myself. I was the second oldest. Our father, Ramon, had died back in '70 from complications of alcoholism. I remember many nights seeing or hearing him beat my Mom. Twice he almost killed her.
She never remarried.
When I got saved on July 3rd of '92 I soon went home to tell my family what had happened. It taught me a lot.
We were all raised Catholics by my Mom and in later years I had learned a lot about what the Bible said and what Catholics believed. So when I went home a baby Christian I was too quick to tell my Mom what was wrong with her religion. I was pretty harsh. It would have been gentler to have pulled the rug out from under her. Fortunately I realized what I was doing before the damage was done.
So after I came back here I decided to send her a Bible for Christmas, the easiest to read version which at that time was the NIV. All I could do was pray that God would show her something through it.†
That was 1994.
July of '96 came with some tragic news: Gloria, who was two years younger than me, never married seeing what kind of marriage our Mom had and was sharing my Mom's house. They slept in the same Master bedroom. However my baby sister Gloria had killed herself and my Mom was the first to find her in that room. †
So I went home to help bury my sister. I was there three weeks. It didn't take me long to find a way to use the Bible to give my Mom some hope. By that time I had learned some things.
So did she.
I would take our times when we were alone together and talk about something the Bible said, maybe even recalled a story from it. I soon learned something from my Mom.
Almost every time I started to quote a verse she would finish it. When I recalled a story she often finished it. I soon realized she had been reading that Bible I had given her. After every time we talked I saw her go from grief and pain to grief and peace. She would still be hurting but there was a sense of resolution.
I always made sure that when I talked about a promise in the Bible I pointed out that it was intended for someone who believed in Jesus. So it eventually made me wonder about where my Mother stood with Him.
I came back to Albuquerque but went back a week later. While driving back home I asked for wisdom and a sign as to where my Mom stood with this Biblical God. I needed to know how I could find out what was the state of her heart.
When I was young my Mom and I had a common love for movies. We often stayed up late to watch something together and we liked the same kind of movies. Even as non-believers we still liked to watch movies about Jesus.
So I knew of a movie that had been made in the late 80's simply called "Jesus". It's often used in missions, translated into other languages and only ran two hours. When I made the suggestion to her she was quick to agree. So we watched it.
Two hours became three because I had to stop the movie to explain what was happening. At the end my Mom was crying. When I asked her why she was she said, "He was so good and they did that to Him!"
I saw God's wisdom acting there. So I took her to another room and explained why she could believe in the Resurrection since He was no longer dead. By that time I had learned how to give a person reasons to believe Jesus rose from the dead.
I quoted Romans 10:9-10 pointing out the need to confess belief in the Resurrection as I explained the event. After thirty minutes she was crying again, though in a different sort of tone. I asked her why.
She said, "I believe!"†I got my answer.
In the days to come she got pretty radical. She was a daughter in a family with five boys and six girls. Many of them were staunch members in the Catholic church (Knights of Columbus, for example) but we knew many of them were doing things, like drinking heavily and sleeping around. I learned of many times my Mom confronted them about how they needed to "Repent and turn to the Lord."
She was quickly ostracized and she was okay with that. I never saw or heard about her visiting them again. I believe she knew she did what she could.
I went to visit her in August of 2003 because I wanted to celebrate my birthday with her. We went to see a movie together and attended a Calvary where she lived. She really enjoyed it. I also talked with her about some things I had done simply because I wanted her to know. I was happy to learn she forgave me.
I recall praying for her and encouraging her to continue with the Lord. It was very hard to leave her. When I drove back I had decided that I would go back to have her come and live with me. Also on that same night drive I had the sense that was the last time I would see her. I ignored it as best I could.
Three months later she passed away. She had Parkinson's and the Lord had a better idea. I remember reacting with a little jealousy thinking, "She got to go home." Grief can come without bitterness, without that sting.
In a phone conversation with my older sister, Mary Lou, she admitted that she "knew" where my Mom was. My sister was a non-believer at that time. A couple of years later I led her to the Lord in the Sinner's Prayer over the phone.
I believe my Mom was used in that though she is no longer here.
If someone is gone from your life you have not lost them when you know where they are.
I wrote this at the hour I learned of my Mom passing away:
Death has struck me,
† After striking mine.
Yet deathís pain†
† Has become my joy.
The sting of loss
† Is caught by scarred hands.
My sorrow stays,
† For it stays to change.
I have sought You, knowing
† Thereís no divine reluctance to overcome.
Instead I seek from You
† Your highest willingness.
I have touched Your heart
† By Your Sonís name.
I have authority,
† As Iíve chosen conformity.
I have Your peace,
† Which is more than stillness of soul.
It is sufficient resources
† Through One faithfully providing.
All of me is Yours,
† Yours to have, forevermore.
Do with me what You will,
† Heaven is much nearer than before.
Take me into Your plan,
† And this will be my contentment.