This is a picture of my mother and grandmother.
As I awoke this morning there was this constant tug at my spirit that I was to share with you the most difficult piece I have ever written among all of my blogs. I am being called by my Father to tell you about my mother’s love.
My Mom was a special creation. My stepfather would often say to me in remembering my Mom, “Kevin, when God made your mother, He threw away the mold. “He was right. Mom was to me a combination of being a counselor when I needed a listening ear, a nurse when I would fall and scrape my knee and need a band-aid and a woman of a rare internal beauty.
She taught herself how to paint landscapes from the art books she purchased. She would often go without many of the luxuries other women were enjoying to afford her art books. Mom sacrified much for herself so as a teenager i would receive my First set of Funk & Wagnalls encyclopedias.
Mom would be elated like it was Christmas morning when a new art encyclopedia would arrive. She trusted me even as a child to leaf through the stories about the different artists like Rembrandt, Picasso, Gaugin and Davinci. The beauty of Rembrandt’s painting of the Prodigal Son stands out in my mind.
The musician Michael W. Smith says the Parable of the prodigal son should be the story of a father’s extravagant love. A wayward son living a reckless life returns home not to scorn, but to the arms of a father’s love (Luke 15:11-32), Please take time to reflect upon the love the father shows the son. Our Father’s love is like that. He holds you in His arms of love whenever you need His extravagant love.
In reflecting upon my Mom she was a work of art – a masterpiece of love, grace and beauty in her Master’s hands. I loved her so much that even as I write this piece tears come to my eyes. Yet, with them in my Lord’s mercy comes beautiful memories of laughter and singing songs together like Amazing Grace . Her rendition of How Great Thou Art was filled with a boundless love for her Lord.
Mom encouraged me in my singing and writing. She told me the Lord gave me a gift that would be used to heal many wounded hearts. I thank my Lord with all humbleness for being able to sing and write about His amazing love for me a sinner saved by grace – the grace of a Savior’s tender and compassionate love.
After 27 years of being away from school my Mom went through an intensive preparation of many weeks of study to be accepted into Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology in Toronto. She studied to the point of exhaustion, often laying her weary head on the dining room table with her math book beside her. I would pray for her as she slept that God would allow her to pass her entrance examination into Seneca College.
Mom’s stomach felt a gnawing nausea the day of her exam. I assured her that whatever happened I would love her just the same. Mom’s haunting fear of failure hung over her like a dark cloud. My father in his sickness of manic depressant schizophrenia abused her so much emotionally and physically that it wore away at her self-confidence and sense of self-worth. My beautiful mom, ever the fighter was hoping and praying that she would pass the exam that she was told many fail the first and even the second time they are tested. She was determined she would make my stepfather and me proud of her. We were proud of her already.
Weeks went by as we all waited for the letter to arrive with her test results. Week after week and day after day my Mom would check the mailbox. No letter today. No letter the next day. No letter that week or the next. Finally, the letter arrived.
Before Mom opened the letter she wanted our assurance that we wouldn’t think less of her if she failed. That’s the really sad thing about abuse. It makes you afraid to fail at anything because it only serves to confirm and re-awaken those spirit-killing words of your abuser. They were the words my sick father would speak over mom, my sister, Val and me. “You’re no good. You’re a loser. Kevin, your brother is smarter than you’ll ever be. You will always be a failure.”
We waited with butterflies in our stomachs prepared for the worst. It was a tough exam. Mom opened the letter. It read something like this. “Mrs. June Miller, you have passed your entrance exam. Welcome to Seneca College.”
Mom performed well as we all expected she would. She graduated from academic upgrading in subjects like math, science, sociology, English, bookkeeping, typing and accounting with a 97.5 % average.
These are two highlights from Mom’s time at Seneca that stand out in my memory. Her thoughts on race relations prompted Gordon Orr, who was her sociology professor, to rewrite two chapters of his book on race relations. The second memory is the art lecture mom gave on landscape painting. Students were standing outside the classroom getting as close as they could to see or even hear my mother’s lecture. Students hearing that mom was going to be giving a lecture on art skipped two of their classes to attend it.
She came home surprised that so many valued what she taught them. I wasn’t because I knew what my mom was capable of. In assessing my Mom’s ability in English her teacher had to start her three quarters of the way through her English grammar book. Mom was told that she had the equivalent knowledge of English and writing as a university graduate.
These next words are so difficult to write. Mom experienced a massive heart attack three days before Christmas 1992. My stepfather, George, called out to her thinking mom went into a deep sleep. He said, “June. June! June! ! No response, not even the sound of one reassuring breath.
Dad shook her and shook her again. He called 911 and immediately started performing CPR. I fight back the tears as I write this. God’s message must get out. The Enemy won’t have the victory. There is a message of love and healing many need to hear.
My stepfather later told me what happened.The paramedics arrived. They worked feverishly as they tried to shock my mother’s heart to start again. Finally, a deep sigh of relief came as they got Mom’s heart started again.
Dad didn’t want me to see what was happening. I still remember as if it was yesterday my mom’s ashen face with the paramedics racing the stretcher past me. Mom was wearing an oxygen mask. She looked so pale.
My heart pounded. Thump. Thump. Thump. In my icy fear I cried out to God in the silence of my terror . “Lord, please let mom live! I don’t want to lose her! Not now. Not this way.” Tears welled up within me. I fought them back as best as I could. I must be strong for my stepfather.
It took the paramedics too long to get Mom’s heart started again. The neurologist came with the gruesome news. “Mr. Miller, your wife has had a second heart attack.The scan of her brain shows that there is only 10% brain activity left. She has unfortunately developed a brain infection called encephalitis. What I have to say next will be difficult to hear. If Mrs. Miller takes a another heart attack do you want to sign a DNR order? That means if she has another complication like a heart attack or a stroke we will make no efforts to resuscitate her.”
A look of horror came over Dad’s face. As Dad struggled with his own tears he said, “Kevin, what should I do? I know June wouldn’t want to live like this with such extensive brain damage, but I need your help in making the decision.”
Through my own tears I said, “Dad, mom wouldn’t want to go on this way. We need to do what is merciful. Sign the DNR order.” Something within me told me that soon Mom would be going to her heavenly home.
Dad shook his head in agreement. With a shaking hand he signed the DNR order. Shortly thereafter, Mom had her third heart attack. We were told to say our good-byes.
First, Dad went in. As he came out I hugged him as his tears soaked my shirt. Then, it was my turn.
That ER room was as chilly as the Arctic Circle. It felt cold and clinical. There was no warmth in that room. Mom was laying there on the metal examination table. Still. Silent. I walked over to her and held her hand. Tears came in torrents. I saw her wedding ring. The small diamonds in it were my reminder of how God had shaped His beautiful work of art.
She married my stepfather in 1980 after divorcing my father for physical and mental cruelty. Two young sweethearts who met when Mom was 16 and my stepfather was 21 had said their good-byes. Now, it was my turn.
Part of me thought this was some surreal dream I would wake up from. Surely, this wasn’t happening before my eyes, but the bitter reality was that it was.
As I held my Mom’s hand suddenly I could feel her fingers touch mine. There was a warmth to her hand that defied reason.
That warm hand was God’s gift to me. My Lord allowed me the opportunity for one last fleeting touch of a mother’s loving warmth.
I spoke these words. “I love you, Mom. I’m going to miss you so much. See you in Heaven some day.”
Mom was only 57 when she died.
She’s in Hevaen where her pain is no more, where there is no heartache, no more soul-crushing sadness, no more sorrow. There is only the wonderful exuberant joy of her Father’s perfect love.
My Mom was far from perfect, but she was perfect for me. Not all of us have been blessed to have such a loving mother as I was. Yet, for reasons I don’t yet fully understand the Holy Spirit moved upon my heart to tell you about my mother. I pray with all of my heart that my thoughts about my mother ministered to some hurt in your own life.
No matter how badly you were treated remember this truth. Just as my mom was a work of her Master’s hands, so too are you. He loves you even if you don’t love yourself. Your Lord wants you to pour out all of your pain to Him to heal you as He is healing me.
Mom was a work of art and so are you.
Please prayerfully reflect on the words of the hymn Have Thine Own Way.
Let Christ have His way with you today .You are His work of art.
God’s peace be with you all.