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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Valentine

1200 months of life

Motherhood – all love begins and ends there. Robert Browning

Do you see this darling, precious woman? She will be celebrating a major milestone in a few weeks. I came to know Mother D about 20 years ago in my church. We refer to all of the ladies who are wise and are of age (starting around 70) as Mother. It is an endearing and respectful term, although some only see the title applicable for someone who is old - it is much more than that. When you think of someone who truly embodies the spirit of a mother, whether they have had children or not, it is an image of a nurturer and encourager. This is what I receive from this wise lady.

​Our relationship started in Sunday School. We were both members of the women’s class and even though we were 40+ years apart in age, I would always look forward to whatever contribution she made to the discussion. She has never been an old lady. Even at a mature age, she could out walk you on the walking trail because she regularly walked 3 miles. She was also not intimidated by computers. She enjoyed taking a computer classes so she could stay up to speed on technology.

The fellas love and respect her. During the early part of our worship service, we stand while singing the opening songs (praise and worship or devotions depending on what phrase is familiar to you). This was before we had a children’s church or a nursery, so the fellas sat with me. As you can imagine, those little legs kept trying to get to the pew after every song. “Can we sit now?” My response was “Do you see Mother D standing? When she sits down, you can sit down.” Out of sheer deductive reasoning (I believe my little legs can stand as long as she is standing) helped them foster this church discipline. We only had to have that conversation once.

Understanding that she was many years their senior, it didn’t take them long to understand the importance of focusing on service during the opening songs. Despite the fact that we’d run, walked and stood for hours playing sports the entire day on Saturday, out of pure pride, they weren’t going to let Mother D outlast them.

Mother D lost her mom when she was a young child. Her father never remarried to make sure “no one mistreated their children.” Children typically assume more household responsibilities in these situations, but you can tell Mother D really benefitted from this. She told such wonderful heart felt stories in class and she always gave me words of encouragement when we would greet her. “Hang in there, you are doing a great job. Look at those boys. You are doing a fine job.” These small phrases of encouragement really spoke life to me. In the early days we could only make it to church twice a month. Getting there meant not only would I get my booster of spiritual encouragement, but I would get some natural encouragement from the mothers. Women who had already raised their children and knew by faith and experience that it was really going to be alright.

In a few weeks Mother D will be a centenarian. She doesn’t make it to church as often. She lives with family a good distance away. When we do get to see her it is a treat. She is not as mobile, but she is still in her right mind and with those gentle eyes still encourages me. Happy birthday Mother D!. I count knowing you as one of my finest gifts!

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