Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Home for Christmas (11/20/08)
- TITLE: Home isn't home without Mom there
By Karen Lucille Gross
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I don’t know what “home for Christmas” really means anymore. For one thing, my parents have moved twice since I left home. I still say I am going ‘home’, because home is where your parents live, right?
The other reason that my parents’ home doesn’t really feel like home anymore is that my mom died last year. So now it is just Dad’s house, even though I keep catching myself saying “Mom and Dad’s” house.
My dad and I were never very close. I had never spent much time alone with him. If he answered the phone when I called, we usually made a bit of awkward small talk and then he would ask if I wanted to talk to Mom.
This is a very difficult confession to make, but after Mom died, I found myself actually disappointed that she had to die first. My dad has always had a bit of an anger management problem. Even after I grew up and left home, I was still rather afraid of him. It has been worse since my own children were born. When Dad would get annoyed at my girls, his reprimands somehow sent me back in time, and I would feel like his angry words were for me. Needless to say, I tried to avoid any situation where the girls and I would be alone with Dad. When Mom was alive, she was my buffer.
An unexpected thing happened after Mom died. Dad’s heart got softer. I hugged him for the first time, and he hugged back. He started reading the Bible – often. He even started attending church. Last Mother’s Day, I brought flowers for Mom’s grave, and I expected him to say something about what a waste flowers were, but instead he came along to the cemetery and I saw that he had also brought flowers! I don’t remember him ever buying flowers for Mom.
Dad has also come to visit me, usually with my sister, but a couple of times now he has come by himself. Our conversations are getting less strained, although I don’t feel quite ready to discuss anything really personal.
My sister has also grown comfortable with Dad. She is back at school, taking graduate classes, so she sold her house and is staying in student housing, which meant that she needed somewhere to stay during the summer. I was a bit surprised that she chose to stay with Dad. I asked her if it seems awkward to be there without Mom, and she told me that she has become much closer to Dad than she ever thought possible.
Mom’s death was a tragic blow to our family, but I have been overwhelmed by the ways in which God is using this blow to heal us. First and foremost, Mom turned to God when she realized that her eternity was closing in on her. I don’t think that she had ever felt the need for God in her life until she saw the end of her life approaching. My aunt brought her pastor to visit my parents when Mom was sick. Both Mom and Dad thought that it might be too late for salvation, since they had lived their lives without giving Him much thought. The pastor convinced Mom that it wasn’t too late. I must confess that I didn’t get brave enough to talk to Mom about her relationship with God, but I did send an email in which I described the parable of the workers from Matthew 20 – how the workers hired last who only worked for one hour received the same reward as those who had labored all day. Salvation is not a reward for the work we have done, but is a gift for all who accept.
Celebrating holidays without Mom hurts; it hurts so much to go to the home where she lived. The house is still so full of reminders that she is not there. But as much as we miss her, we have to trust that God knew best. If He had allowed my mother to live a long, healthy life, she may not have recognized her need for God until it came too late.
Going “home” for the holidays will be bittersweet. Mom won’t be there, but we will be celebrating the birth of the One who came to give us life. We have the comfort of knowing that Mom can celebrate with the Birthday Boy Himself!
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