in loving memory
A few hours ago I was working on Greek and I needed to consult a Bible. So I got up, pulled an NIV off the shelf and opened it to find that the case also contained a notebook. A black Moleskine, specifically, which, if you’ve seen me in the last several months, you might know as the notebook I always have with me. I looked up the verse that had been giving me trouble, and then I looked in the notebook. It turned out to be the notebook my mom used to keep sermon notes and prayer requests in the last few months before she died, and then it was used for the same purpose by my dad for the next five or six months. I immediately had to share with my dad the fact that I have an identical notebook that I keep with me at all times, and it contains primarily sermon notes, to do lists, and prayer requests. He asked if that was something I’d started doing on my own, or if I did it because I’d seen my mom do it. I had to admit that I had had no idea that notebook existed and, while I know my mother was an avid listmaker, my own much-loved Moleskine had no connection to her habits. He laughed and said something very familiar– that I am my mother’s daughter.
I hear this comment on a fairly regular basis, and it always has the same effect– to delight me and intimidate me.
It delights me because I think my mom was a wonderful person. Her constant optimism, patience and perseverance (in spite of more hardships than almost anyone else I know) are a joy to remember, and I can only hope to reach her level of intelligence someday. My mom was the most open-minded person I’ve ever known. Talking to her always showed me the complete complexity of every person and every issue in ways I would never have realized on my own, because she saw everyone as valuable, created in the image of God, with something to offer. I think it’s a life goal of mine to see the world the way my mom did, but even on my best days I don’t even feel close. She’s why I place so much importance on thinking for myself and questioning everything I hear, because I know that nothing has any meaning unless you process it for yourself. Our house was filled with thousands of books, nearly all of which she’d read, and no piece of literature, experience or humanity with which she came in contact escaped changing her in some way. She was able to integrate everything into a perfectly woven worldview, always changing, always growing and always an admirable mystery to me.
It intimidates me for all of these same reasons. I’m not my mom and I’m not trying to be my mom. I know she wouldn’t want that– she’d tell me to be myself, because that’s what I’m going to be best at. And that’s what I do, for the most part. She liked who I was and who I was growing up to be more than I did, most of the time, and that continues to be a huge source of confidence for me. In some ways it’s tempting to mold myself into her, because I think the world could use as many people like her as it can get, but I know that’s not how it works. I can and do follow her example in a lot of ways, but I am not her, for better or for worse.
I know that no matter how much I change, my mother will always live on in me, and I’m incredibly grateful for that. God blessed me with her in ways I can’t even begin to express. My absent-minded, sleep-deprived geek of a mother will always be part of me, and I know that my self will continue to be as inextricably linked with hers as it has been my whole life. I hope that the things she instilled in me are things I’m doing a decent job of living out, and that her wisdom and grace continue to influence me, not only for my own sake, but for the sake of the people who will never get the chance to know her.
(My mom’s blog, if you’re interested)