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Topic: Rejection (11/15/04)
TITLE: A Mother's Gift
By Angie Schulte
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The sharpness of the late October night bit into him, but he could not bring himself out of the place that she had wrapped him within. He knew that some would call it grief. But it was not grief, at least not in the sense of her passing. He knew that would come painfully later. It was in the sense of the secret that she had taken with her. It was in the essence of who she was.
He closed his eyes and tilted his head back while trying to bring her image to life before him. He could see her in his boyhood bedroom as he was getting ready for bed asking, “Charlie, did you brush your teeth and wash behind your ears?” In spite of himself, he smiled. He’s always wondered why washing behind’s a guy’s ears was so important. Who looked there anyway?
He heard her soft voice urging him to pray before going to bed. He remembered the time he’d said, “Lord, thanks for keeping me fed, I’m going to bed.” Her response had been an admonishment to speak to the Lord with respect and love.
Prayer to be her had been a time of intimacy and guidance. Charlie had never understood or made the connection. He remembered her prayers of thanks for dinner, and he could see her stop throughout the day to find moments of strength. His mind’s eye could see her sitting in her old armchair with only the light of the soft glow of a lamp for reading the book that now lay beside him. He could almost touch the face that was bathed in a peace he’d never understood.
He could see the tears in her eyes when on his graduation day from college; he told her that he didn’t believe in God. She had spoken with sadness yet a sense of that strange conviction. “Charlie, I’ve tried to be both mother and father to you, and maybe I didn’t do it right. Maybe, there were things I should have done differently, but I always tried to show and help you understand that there was something more than yourself. Son, you’re a man now with a man’s right to make his own choices, and I’m not going to argue about this. However, I will keep praying that someday you understand what you have today rejected and learn to find the joy of it.”
She had kept her word. She’d never harassed him about it, and he had known that his name was on top of her prayer list. Their lives had gone on just fine. He’d married and had two children whose religious training was left to his wife. Then last month his mother had gotten sick. Cancer had eaten away at her until finally early this morning, it had won.
While he had railed at the doctors and her, she had remained non-complaining until the end. At the moment, even in pain, she had reached out to him, asking only one thing. “Charlie, it’s almost time and I’m ready. But I need just one promise from you.” She had been weak so he had tried to get her to conserve her strength. “Charlie, just promise me that you will read my book for one year. Please promise me.” He had promised.
Later, he’d found himself with her book. On top of it lay a piece of paper with only a few words.
Charlie, I have loved you as best as I could with the Lord’s help. I know that you say you don’t believe, but, my dear son, every time you rejected Him, you have rejected who and what I was. I can’t make you love your heavenly Father that is between you and He, but I can ask you to no longer reject me. Son, please keep the promise I know you gave, and if at the end of the year, you still don’t believe, then, you can go on with your life. I will cherish the gift of love you gave.
Somehow, even sitting here in the dark, Charlie knew he wouldn’t need the year, he simply couldn’t reject who and what his mother had been.