It's been a long, difficult struggle for Mama, and for all of us who loved her. She's fought long and hard
for almost 3½ years, before finally losing her battle with lung cancer. We were so blessed that God allowed her to be with us
for so long, more than twice as long as anyone thought or even hoped. I believe that God, in His infinite wisdom, knew it was going to
take that long for us to prepare ourselves to face this day.
Back when she was first diagnosed with the cancer in March of 2006, I was praying my heart out and I told God I just wasn't ready to lose Mama
yet. Suddenly, as I was praying, I felt God's presence with me, and sensed Him speaking to my heart. He said, "Kathy, you know, even if I gave her another
10 years, you still wouldn't be ready." That is so true. We are never ready to lose someone we love. And when we lose
our Mother, we've lost something very special and irreplaceable: the person who brought us into this world. The person who gave us life.
It sort of feels like we're suddenly left alone. But of course, we're not alone, for God promised to always be with us.
So, God gave us almost 3½ more years with Mama, in His mercy and wisdom. Then, because her pain and suffering had become
more than she could bear, with tender, loving compassion He took her home to glory, and our lives will never be the same.
But I don't want to just talk about her death. I also want to celebrate her life. Even apart from the cancer, Mama had to deal
with many hardships, trials, and troubles in her lifetime, more than many people ever have to deal with. Mama just kept on keeping on,
no matter what life threw at her. She was definitely a survivor, and an overcomer.
During this last hospitalization, I had several long and emotional talks with Mama - things we've never really talked about before.
The kind of things we should talk about but it seems like we always wait for a better time, until we realize that there may not be another time to say the things we need to say.
One day I told her I was very proud of her, and she seemed surprised as she said, "For what?" I said, "Because you've always
been there for your family, no matter what. You've overcome every obstacle you've ever had to face, and never lost your faith
in God or your love for your family. I think that's something to be proud of." She just kind of smiled as she drifted off to sleep.
I hope she knew how much I meant it. That, and so much more.
Mama often said, since becoming a Christian, that she didn't know what her spiritual gifts were. She didn't think she had any.
But she certainly did. She had a servant's heart, just like Jesus. She didn't consider any task too menial for her, if it would help someone
else. And she surely took care of others. She sat for hours with Aunt Sue, during her long illness, and with Aunt Judy, as well.When Ronnie's house burned to the ground, she was right there with him
throughout that long night and the weeks to follow. When Jenny got so sick and almost died, Mama took care of the kids and the
house for her, and sat for hours telling her about the Lord and explaining Scripture to her. She took care of John when he was hurt and couldn't walk, and Denny
after his terrible accident. She took care of Josh when Vicki was in the hospital for a month.
Mama took care of each and every one of us, at many different times in our lives. She was there with me many times, especially when I faced my own
battle with cancer. It's really ironic that Mother lost her battle with that horrible disease during the same week I celebrated my 16th year of being cancer-free.
Mama served those within her church family, as well. For many years, Mom and Aunt Judy were always there to prepare the food, set up tables,
serve the meals, and then clean up after every dinner or get-together the church had. She never thought of herself as such, but she truly had a humble, serving heart.
We all know what Jesus said: "And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted." (Matt. 23:12) I have no doubt whatsoever that
Mama is being exalted up in heaven right now. She may not have ever had a lot of material riches here on this earth, but
she has a mansion up in glory. Not because of her works, but because of her faith in Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.
No, Mama couldn't leave us much in the way of earthly wealth, but she left us her faith. She shared that faith with all of us,
many times, so that even as we face this day of loss and mourning, we face it with the comforting assurance that not only is she
no longer suffering, no longer in pain, but she is walking in heaven with her Lord and Savior and with all her loved ones who
have gone before. And we can be comforted by knowing that, if we have also received Jesus as our own Lord and Savior, that we will one day be reunited
with Mama, up in heaven.
Until that day, she left us with enough love, enough laughter, and enough wonderful memories that we will never truly
lose her. She will remain forever in our hearts and in our memories, because a mother's love never truly dies.