I have a sweet elderly friend that I met when I used to deliver Meals-On-Wheels. Her name is Frances but the children and I lovingly dubbed her, “Miss Frances.” Over the past ten years I have watched Miss Frances age. She transitioned from using a walker to being bedridden to being moved to a nursing home. I no longer deliver Meals-On-Wheels to her home but I deliver cheerful happiness to her in her nursing home every month. And I gain so much in return.
Miss Frances is now 102 year old and she has two living sons and one who has gone to be with Jesus. She does not have any daughters to visit her, so when I visit, I dress to the hilt. I put on my flashiest shirt (sequins are great) and pile on my loudest jewelry. Sometimes I add extra jewelry in the parking lot before I go in. Miss Frances loves to see my outfit, touch my jewelry, and comment on my hair. She’s commented on other aspects of my body (including my bra size) and she’s given me sex advice. She is a hoot.
All joking aside, there are lessons that I have learned by observing how Miss Frances has loved her sons even while imprisoned in a worn-out body in a metal hospital bed. I have tearfully watched her heartfelt expressions of love to her sons. There are three lessons that mothers of any age can learn from Miss Frances:
1) A mother never stops praying for her children. Miss Frances’ sons are both are retirement age but she is still praying for them. I’ve been there with her when they visit. When it is time for a son to leave, they go to Miss Frances’ bedside, lean their head on her chest, and then she wraps her gnarled hands around the back of their heads. And then she prays for them out loud. Even at 102, she knows there is power in prayer and in pronouncing blessings over her sons. “Jesus, protect and keep them…” A mother never stops praying for her children.
2) A mother stops caring for her children. Even at 102, in a body that is wasting away, her mind is still worried about her children. She worries that one son eats too much junk food. The other one works too hard. She tells me with sadness about upcoming surgeries for them. One of her sons now has cancer. When they leave after a visit, she yells after them,”Take care of yourself!” and she continues to shout instructions at them as they are walking down the hallway. A mother never stops caring for her children.
3) A mother never stops sacrificing for her children. One of Miss Frances’ sons visits at 3 pm each day. At lunchtime, she eats part of her lunch, and saves the rest for him. Recently I was with her when her lunch tray arrived. She picked up the soft bread roll, painstakingly found her knife, and proceeded to slowly cut off 1/3 of her bread. She put 1/3 of the bread on her tray for her to eat, and placed the other 2/3 of the bread in a bag for her son. For later. For him to eat when he comes.
That may seem inconsequential, but the thing is, she gave the best of her lunch to her son. Miss Frances has no teeth, so the soft white bread would have been the easiest part of her meal for her to eat. Not the turkey. Or the dressing. Or the nasty chilled peas that she dislikes. She gave him the best. A mother never stops sacrificing for her children.
No matter what stage of motherhood you find yourself in today, you can probably relate to Miss Frances. You have forever prayed for your children, even when they were in your womb. You’ve prayed them through good times and bad tough times. You’ve cared for them so much that you’ve had sleepless nights filled with worry. And you understand the sacrifice involved with being a mother…giving our best away and taking the leftovers.
The great love that you have for your children will never end. It will continue until you find yourself old and frail and perhaps trapped inside an ailing body.
Even from a position of helplessness, you will always be a powerful mother.
A mother never stops praying for her children.
A mother never stops caring for her children.
A mother never stops sacrificing for her children.
Just like Miss Frances.