A Mother’s Parting Gift

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turks.jpgThe last several years of our mother’s life, she often expressed concern about running out of money before she ran out of days.  A lifetime in ministry had afforded her and my dad only a modest income and one of her worst fears was that she would have to depend upon her children for financial support once her resources were depleted.  It was a situation she desperately wished to avoid.

Like most parents, she desired to leave us something of monetary value that could be labeled “inheritance”, no matter how small its amount.  She was clear in her instructions that IF there should be any money left for us to share, we were to each buy something only for ourselves.  “Now, don’t pay bills with it!” she would insist. “Just use it for something you really want.”

When Mom passed away a few years ago, my sister and I had already decided exactly what we would do with any extra money after funeral expenses and incidentals had been paid.  We would take a trip together. Just the two of us. Some place we had never been before just as together we now journey the land of the motherless and fatherless, also a place we had never been before.

She was clear in her instructions that IF there should be any money left for us to share, we were to each buy something only for ourselves.

Nine years before our mother’s death, on her 80th birthday, we had a large party with friends and family in attendance from several states.  While my sister was in town for this event, Mom insisted that we spend a day making a list of the items we each wanted after her death.

Her health was excellent at the time and my sister was extremely resistant to the idea of even discussing her death, let alone dividing up her belongings on a piece of paper with a line drawn down the middle.  The idea of it seemed gruesome and appalling. But my mother wouldn’t take no for an answer and said she had seen too many families whose relationships were ruined by misunderstandings after a death. To assure that wouldn’t happen she wanted to “just settle things now”.

So after repeated protests we both granted her wish and spent the day choosing pieces of furniture and keepsakes for ourselves and our children.   What had been an attempt to avoid any contention between her offspring turned out to be a very practical benefit my mom had bestowed upon us. Later in the midst of deep grief, physical exhaustion, sleep deprivation and funeral arrangements, the division of assets was one less burden to add to our pain.

On Mother’s Day we sat by the ocean remembering the woman who gave us life.

For several months we were both too emotionally raw and stunned from our loss to even think about or discuss a trip.  Around the one year mark we eventually began researching, planning and designing our special time together. We wanted a warm climate, a beach and somewhere neither of us had been before.  After much deliberation we settled on a week in the Turks and Caicos, rather small and quiet British ruled islands in the Caribbean.

For one week we pushed our feet into the sand, took long walks at sunset, had leisurely meals without interruption and enjoyed the gift of each other.  Then on Mother’s Day we sat by the ocean remembering the woman who gave us life.

We were both fairly certain there was nothing that would have pleased her more than knowing we had spent our inheritance in this way.  For a parent, watching your children grow into adults who value and cherish each other is a priceless treasure. I am always so pleased when my adult children make plans to be together and enjoy each other’s company.  The reason is when their dad and I are gone, I want them to be able to give to each other the love and support we are no longer here to give.

3 John 1:4 has become one of my favorite Scripture verses as my children have grown into adulthood.  “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth”.

The fulfillment of that scripture would be my greatest goal for each of them.  And one of my next greatest wishes would be for them to love each other to the end of their days.  Devotedly. Compassionately. Completely.

My sister and I spent a wonderful week waking up to the beautiful turquoise of the Caribbean waters.  We ate, laughed, talked and prayed. And yes we sometimes cried. But mostly we gave tribute and honor to our mother by the simple act of loving each other.