Thank You for Keeping Me….a Tribute to Mothers
We never know for sure how today’s actions will influence tomorrow. Sometimes it’s not until years later that the impacts of our decisions are fully understood…
Over the years I have had numerous opportunities to speak to students ranging from elementary school to college. Many times I have been approached afterwards by a student expressing how the services at the Mission had blessed their family. Sometimes that blessing came through their experience as a volunteer or when a family member needed support. Other times the connection is even more direct.
I was being interviewed one morning for a television program through one of the local high schools. As I looked out into the audience of students and faculty, my eyes were drawn to a young man whose eyes were keenly fixed. The intensity of his gaze let me know he was holding onto every word. His eyes filled with tears as I continued to speak. There was nothing very personal about what I was sharing, but this eighteen-year-old boy was obviously touched as he wiped his tear-stained face with the back of his hand.
Seeing the gratitude of this young man’s heart reminded me of my own mother. My biological dad was killed in an airplane crash in Germany while my mom was pregnant with me. He was in the Army and as two planes collided, he plummeted to his death. I knew some of the story but never asked questions. Since it happened before I was born, I never gave it much thought.
At age thirty-five, I was married with two small daughters and my mother was living in Alaska. Rather than haul everything with her, we were keeping some of her items in our basement for storage.
While fiddling around the basement one day, I came across an old box of her memorabilia I decided to peruse. As I opened the box and began rummaging around, I came across an old newspaper clipping from the Topeka Capital-Journal. The large picture on the front captured my eye; in it stood three smiling women. They were in the New York City harbor as they stood on a ship, waving cheerfully as it slowly pulled away. I smiled as I read the article about the young ladies who were eagerly leaving the United States to join their husbands in Germany. My heart filled with pride as I thought of my mom.
I finished the article and put it aside. Directly underneath was another clipping with an entirely different feel. “Three Went, One Came Back Alone,” the headlines read. My heart sank as I realized the article was about my mom and the devastating tragedy that had taken the life of my dad. She was now coming back to Topeka, twenty-one years old, pregnant and alone. Then reality hit me… the child in her womb had been me.
Feeling sorry for her, some soldiers had snuck her onto a huge cargo plane so she wouldn’t have to endure the two-week trek home by ship. For hours, she bounced in the air suffering from the effects of her pregnancy, motion sickness and sorrow.
When Mom did arrive back in town, she had nowhere to turn. The survivor’s benefits from the military had not yet kicked in and she had no income. Had her parents not still been alive and in town, she too would have been homeless.
While I read the article, my heart was gripped for the first time with the realization of the sacrifice of my mother and what she had done for me. She could have easily given me away or attempted to seek an abortion. Instead, out of her love and sacrifice, she held on and gave birth to her son.
I trembled with great emotion, heaviness and gratefulness in my heart as I picked up the phone and called Alaska. “Mom?” I said as she picked up the phone. She responded but I couldn’t speak. I had a lump in my throat the size of a watermelon and no words could escape. She asked if I was okay. When I couldn’t respond she asked if Tami was okay… and then about the kids… and then once again, she asked about me. I still couldn’t speak. Finally, through the cracking of a tearful voice, I whispered, “Yes… I just want you to know how much I love you.”
I explained to my mom what had occurred and how I had read the newspaper articles from so long ago. I told her I never realized the extent of all she had endured and done just for me. “Thank you for keeping me,” I breathed. Still trembling I spoke and continued to share and thank her for the many ways she had been such an amazing mom.
The young man I met at the high school knew, but hadn’t realized, the sacrifices that had been made just for him. When I looked at my mom, I now realized the same. The loss, the fear, and the pain these two women had to endure just to keep their boys, is still more than I can hardly comprehend.
Jesus had a mom. She carried Him in her womb, nursed Him, nurtured Him and stood by His side. The difference between this child and others was that He was born to die. I can only imagine the pain she felt as she walked through her life. The rejection she endured as her pregnancy was scoffed, the sorrow she felt knowing one day she would have to release her firstborn from her care, and the unexplainable pain she experienced as she watched Him die in anguish before her very eyes. As Jesus sacrificed His life, she sacrificed her son… all so that you and I might live.
Are we really aware of the many sacrifices that have been made for us?
There were days for these mothers when they must have wondered if they could really go on; if their sacrifices were really worth the effort. But through their love and in spite of the hardships that came their way, they pressed on and continued to care for the children God had placed in their hands. Through Christ, each one of us can find the strength to do the same. You do have the strength to
I thank God that He sent His Son, that through Jesus I would have eternal life. And I thank my mom that she endured through the pain and trials that I might experience life in this world.
Who is it that you have to be thankful for today? It’s never too late to say “thank you,” and give honor where honor is due. May you never forget the multitude of sacrifices that have been made, just so that you could live.
The room began to clear as I prepared to leave but the young man stayed behind, evidently waiting for the appropriate time to approach me in private. When the last person left, he walked forward and bravely shared.
When he was just a baby, he and his mother became homeless. His biological father had disappeared; his mother had no money and knew very few people in Topeka. Hopeless, with nowhere else to turn, they moved into the Mission. For the first time in his life, while listening to me speak, this young man began to realize what it must have been like for his mom. She had told him over the years it was because of God and those who served at the Mission that she had survived the experience. It was only now that he caught a glimpse of what she had meant.
As the young man continued, he shared of friends he knew who had gone through similar situations. The difference with them was that their mothers had walked away and given them up. With an expression of gratitude and awe he faintly said, “But my mom kept me.” The tears were now streaming down his face as he looked up and with all sincerity said, “Thank you for helping my mom.”
In time, his mom got back on her feet and did what she could to give him the best life possible. His face lit up as he spoke of the amazing man she married who had become his new dad and of his two younger siblings. He was now making plans for college and was excited about his future. Before saying goodbye, he shared with a smile, “It wasn’t until today that I realized how much my mother has done for me… and I can’t wait to tell her tonight when I see her.”
My heart cries out in gratitude to You. Thank You for the abundant sacrifice that You gave that I might live. Give me an understanding and revelation of others who have sacrificed, allowing me to be alive this day. May I go to them with my thanks and appreciation and may their lives be blessed for their giving.
In Jesus’ Name.
This story is an excerpt from Barry Feaker’s book “In Darkness, A Light Still Shines”.