Thursday, February 21, 2008

Mom, A Leader?

We watched a video at Mom's "Celebration Service," and in it there was a clip of she and I playing musical chairs with a lot of little Russian women. We were on a mission trip there, and you would think that Mom and I would have tried to enhance international relations by letting one of them win the silly game. But NO! Leave it to a couple of competitive Americans to push their butts (literally) out of the chairs we wanted to claim as our own. It came down to Mom, me and a little wooden chair, and Mom was the one wiggling her feet in the air in victory. It wasn't this competition that threw me into a sobbing fit at that service, it was the brief moment after the competition ended. I doubt that anyone else would have even noticed, but for a brief moment after Mom popped up out of her victor's seat, she walked up to me, laughing so hard she was bending over, and I leaned towards her and cupped her face in my hands. That was it. That one little motion summed up the complicated dynamic of our relationship.
First, it showed our intimate friendship. It's not just anyone that you feel comfortable enough to hold their face in your hands as you both laugh hysterically. We were both completely comfortable in our skin with each other. Secondly, and much more difficult to define, it showed the blurred line we walked in the relation of mother to daughter. Normally, you would think that it would have been the Mom, holding her little girl's face in her hands, but that wasn't always the case with us.

I think that, of all my sisters, I am probably the most like my Dad. I believe that Mom picked up on this early and in many small ways would turn to me for direction in his absence. Things like, "Abby, I don't really need this new white shirt that looks just like 4 other ones that I already have, do I?" Or, "Abby, you're in charge of your sisters while I run do A, B, C, D, AND E, Ok?" I think Dad must have noticed too, because whenever we went shopping, he would always either give me the credit card, or whisper to me that I was in charge of keeping Mom from purchasing the whole store for us. Never was her need for direction more apparent than when we would travel. "Mom, why do you start to get off at every exit we pass?" "I don't know, Abby, but you just tell me when I'm supposed to get off." It's hard to express in words, but the general feeling I had when I was with Mom was--You're with me. I trust you completely. Now, let's just go.

I've laughed inside many times over the past few months when people have expressed their condolences by saying, "Your Mom was just such an amazing leader." I know what they meant, but in the strictest sense of the word Mom was simply not a leader. What Mom was, was a person who radiated joy so strongly that people wanted to be around her. Wherever she was headed, they were ready to go too, and in that sense she was a leader of people. However, the really beautiful part of Mom--the part that made her extraordinary in these last years of her life, was not her "leadership" but her ability to trust. She had a relationship with the Lord that was so real that she could look to Him, just as she did to me, and say, "You're with me. I trust you completely. Now, let's just go." It was this childlike faith that made her a mighty woman of God that people wanted to follow.

So, that image that I treasure in my heart, of her laughingly resting her face in my hands, speaks all these things to me. It shows her love for me, our hazily defined relationship, but also her uninhibited joy, which ultimately came from the Lord, and made her a leader of men.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

That was very beautifully written! I hope that God continues to bless you with these "special moments" that you hold so dear to your heart! You are such a deserving and precious woman!

Cynthia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cynthia said...

Abby, These are the memories that carry us through those dark days. You are so much like your Mom, I know there is so many of us out here waiting daily for your blogs. You are like our morning cup of coffee or tea. I talk to people daily and they will ask, have you read Abby's blog? Thanks for sharing and blessing us with your family.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ab!
It was soooo great to talk with you today. It was a ray of sunshine in my day! You know, I was so focused on your mom in the video that I am ashamed I didn't realize that it was you with her! I was just loving seeing that competitive nature of her come out and now knowing that was you with her makes it that much more special! I so know what you mean about her trust in others. I always felt that way growing up with her and I was always so amazed by it. (why she trusted me I don't know!) (you are much more mature than I ever was - hehe!) She just always in her own way let someone else be in charge but also secretly empowered others by doing it! You put that so eloquently and it is so true that she trusted you. I just will never, ever forget the vision of you how you just loved on her and comforted her the whole time I was there visiting your house that day. It was such a bright spot in a very hard and confusing day for me and a memory I will never, ever forget. She was a very lucky mom to have you as you were to have her. Beautiful blog sweetie!
Love you!
Kendall

Mitzi said...

Abby, You amaze me!! When I need something expressed in writing will you be my ghost writer?!
I remember when you came back from Russia how you spoke of the orphanages. And she talked about the food!!! We love you!
Mitzi

Jennifer said...

Abby,
It was her childlike faith that made her a mighty woman of God that people wanted to follow. You are so right when you say this... There were a couple of times that I was able to share in conversations with her and I would just get more and more excited about the Lord each time I was with her. My girls and I heard her testimony at Pat Woods home and I went right away and bought the book "Streams in the Desert". I use it a lot for my devotion and boy does it always speak to me right there where I am on that particular day. I have even gone and bought more books and given them to family members and friends. One time I gave mine away and because Pat knew how much I loved it she went and bought me one and left it at my back door. What an inspiration your mom has been to me, my family and the community. I love hearing how you are doing even though we have not met. You are so much like her and I see your dad in you as well. May the Lord continue to bless you and your beautiful family.
Jennifer Jones

stewdog said...

It´s easy to just go with others analysis of your relationships. Ya know? You just sort of agree with people. I´m glad you haven´t. I feel we do that too often instead of reflecting on the truth. Well done on forming your own opinions!

dianne said...

Hi Abby! I just wanted you to know how much I so enjoy reading your blog! You are so articulate with your words and each entry, no matter if it's serious or funny, is very entertaining and inspiring to read. I'm looking forward to reading the "Heaven" book you talked about awhile back, and wouldn't have known about it if you had not mentioned it. I knew your mom and dad from high school and am still good friends with your dad, and also my son works for him at the vet clinic. Keep up the great work on the blog, you are a very talented writer! Much love to your family. Becky will never be forgotten!

P.S. I totally loved your entry about the Pine Lake Motel, and when we passed it several weeks ago on the way to Montgomery I thought about it and smiled.

Anonymous said...

Hi Abby,
I was at bible study this week and had a familiar memory of your mom. Someone brought up the verse that talks about "And even the very hairs on your head are numbered". In sunday school my Senior year, your mom told us a story about that verse and it has never left me and has continued to inspire me. I wanted to share a funny yet random story with you. I have a picture of your mom and me getting ready for graduation Sunday at Church, she was pinning my graduation cap to my terrible hair cut! It was an extreme close up shot! The funny thing is that picture some how was left in the glove compartment of my car that year. Still to this day, that picture is in my glove compartment. I've even changed cars! There have been countless times when I've been looking for something and pulled it out. I forget its there so I laugh each time I see it as if it were the first time I discovered it. I was so lucky to have her each Sunday during that important year!
The celebration service was beautiful and so special. I DO remember seeing this very scene in the video! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I enjoy reading your blog and look forward to everything you have to say. The girls are beautiful!!!

Beth Bailey Granberry