Yesterday I kept a commitment I made to my mother in 2009. Mom and I were sitting on her deck enjoying our coffee, and the discussion turned to end-of-life issues. As we talked, Mom said that when the time came, she wanted me to speak at her funeral.
I kept that promise yesterday, and I used Proverbs 3:1-2 as my text: “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.”
I summarized Mom’s “teaching” in 10 lessons:
• #1: Justice should be swift and there is benefit to impending doom. Mom believed in executing judgment and then let me squirm with the words: “And when your dad gets home you’re telling him what you’ve done.
• #2: The cure for sowing wild oats is to pull weeds. There were fewer weeds in our lawn than any other place in town. The price of misdeeds was to uproot unwanted weeds.
• #3: The remedy for poor speech is a bar of soap. My mouth was washed out with soap so many times, I could tell you what brand it was just by the taste.
• #4: Be thrifty. Solomon said that we should, “Consider the ways of the ant and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” With 8 kids, Mom couldn’t afford to be frivolous, so she would study the weekly ads and then stock the food pantry with whatever was on sale.
• #5: Splurge once in a while. Birthdays were special because Mom indulged you by cooking whatever you wanted to eat.
• #6: Be timely. Ecclesiastes 8:6 tell us that, “A wise man’s heart discerns both time and judgment, because for every matter there is a time and judgment, though the misery of man increases greatly.” There were times each one of the kids in the family experienced an increase in their misery index because they arrived home one minute after curfew.
• #7: Clean your plate. I never understood why I was supposed to clean my plate, but I wasn’t permitted to lick my ice cream bowl.
• #8: Eat a little bit each time and you’ll learn to like it. Some of Mom’s kids never learned to choke-down slimy green vegetables.
• #9: Life isn’t fair. Mom had more than her share of trials and sorrows, but she believed that when hard times come your way you should trust God, huddle with your family, lean on your friends, and pull yourself up by your boot straps and keep on keeping on.
• #10: Love. In I Corinthians 13 we’re told that, “Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful. It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Regardless of what I did, Mom’s love for me never wavered.
My siblings and I were blessed with a wonderful mother, and we thank God for her love and the lessons she shared with us.