The July 4th holiday had long passed: Labor Day was a distant memory. And, Mavis was yet contemplating the return to her job after taking family & medical leave to care for and subsequently bury her mother. After months of being away, Mavis began her morning ritual of drudgery to ready her mind and body for the inevitable return to her former employer, former position—preferring instead to find a way out—but, finding none. Mavis wished she could just quit or at least assume another position, of equal stature. Favor was what she needed. Favor was what she sought.
After exiting the shower, Mavis wrapped her body in a luscious and soft towel. She then made her way to the bedroom. The telephone rang. The sound of the ringing brought on another heaving of emotions. Years before when her marriage floundered, she and her children were forced to return to her mother. Millie Moore, the widow of August Moore, Jr., willingly welcomed them into her home. Mavis worked a lot of overtime hours to help make ends meet. Today, she remembered the late night telephone calls her mother made, pleading with her to come home. She remembered her responses: “just another hour, Mother, and I promise I will come home.”
As Mavis ended her episodic wailing, she sat motionless, and while breathing rapidly she began to frown, and became angry: Had she not left Henry, her husband of ten years, created a situation of imposition within the home of her mother, she could have spent more quality time with her mother rather than having to work so much. She became angry with herself and angry with him.
“Had he kept his vows,” she thought, “The children and I would not have burdened mother with our problems, our needs, our desires. How selfish of a person I have become.” She told herself.
Her heart was full of regret—full of anger—filled with contempt and heavy from the weight of guilt. As she sat on the bed, unable to move, unable to stop the constant churning of “if onlys” and “what ifs” in her mind, not desiring to go back to that job ever again, wanting to stay home, wallow in self-pity, self-loathing, and give way to the internal acrimony, her tears rushed downward onto her cheeks.
“My Mother is gone!” She yelled. “If only I had not neglected her, I would have been here when she collapsed! If only I had given her more attention! If only….”
The telephone stopped ringing, only to start again. Mavis regained her composure, took a deep breath, stood up, looked into the mirror on her dresser, gingerly wiped away the residue of tears, swallowed a chunk of air, and caught a glimpse of her reflection. There staring back at her was the face of Millie, her mother, now fused with her own face. Mavis smiled.
”My mother lives.” She thought. “As long as I live, she lives. Others will look upon my face, and say, ‘Girl, you look just like your mother!’”
The thought pacified Mavis for the moment. The telephone no longer clamored. But, then the dread of having to go back to the job, a major contributor to the neglect of her mother, made her angry again. She decided she would not go back today. Mavis knew she needed to pray; but, found that whenever she tried, she could not.
When her pastor, unable to reach her by telephone, came by to inquire about her lengthy absence from church services, she did not want to answer the door; but, his continual knocking kept interrupting her thoughts. She put on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.
“How nice of you, Reverend Paramore, to come by to check up on me,” Mavis said, after she opened the door and invited him into her home.
Once inside, the pastor sat and talked with Mavis, then prayed for her, and delivered “the Holy Word.” Mavis felt the burden lift from her heart. After his departure, Mavis knew she had to decide to either live with or die from the decisions she made and executed with regards to her mother.
She would make the appointment this time to get help to deal with the anger, the grief, the guilt, the remorse, the emotional frailty: No amount of self-pity would ever change the ever-present past.
Ephesians 4: 26-27 – “Be ye angry, and sin not: … Neither give place to the devil.”
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