It’s been ten years. To the day.
Or was it only yesterday?
Even though it feels like my mother never left me, she died on January 11, 2012. Frannie Bishop would have turned 100 this September.
Yet I still hear her gentle voice and her words of wisdom every day. There she goes again, smiling, pumping her fist, and exclaiming “Yes!” Sometimes, I even hear her scolding me, though always returning to her sweet way. She lives within me, a worthy assistant of God’s Holy Spirit. The three of us have been doing life together since I became a Christian at age eight.
The older I get, the more I appreciate my mother.
Born the second of four children, her mother died when Mom was just five. Young Frannie would learn life skills by necessity from Daddy, hired housekeepers, and the school of hard knocks. She grew up faster than most but never lost her youthful spirit or desire to grow and learn.
Mom’s adult life was shaped by heartache and loss, including my father’s untimely death at the age of 37 with three adolescents still in the home and my oldest brother in his first year of college. She could have cut and run, turned to the bottle, or looked for love in the wrong places. But that’s not who she would become. Her God had better ideas.
Instead, with a modest salary and little discretionary income, she worked diligently to see all of us through college and gainfully employed shortly after graduation. How she did it is beyond me. Only big personal sacrifices could have made it happen. But I never heard about them.
In today’s age of specialization, we see fewer people like my mother—those who can cook, sew, do the books, prescribe homegrown solutions to whatever ails a person, and gently dole out wisdom on life issues such as parenting or grieving a loss. Part child psychologist, part home economist, and part nurturer, she always found time for acts of service even when time was in short supply. Despite her independent streak, service to others was never about her.
When I proposed to Debbie at age 52, no one cheered harder than Frannie. In Debbie, she saw the answer to many prayers, as have I. But that’s another story (Two Are Better).
In some respects, I’m glad Mom didn’t have to endure the bipolar politics and social strife since she’s been gone. I know what she would’ve said about transgenderism, the welfare state, and perceived social injustices. Though she might have wanted to knock some sense into people who have fallen victim to victimhood or unbiblical values, she would’ve recognized them as confused and in need of help. Her perspective was not one of privilege but of someone who had been in some deep holes herself. If anyone was qualified to play the victim card, it was her. Yet it remained buried in her back pocket, never to be tossed into the ring of public persuasion.
I’ve coached people online since my mother left her physical body ten years ago. So many of them don’t or didn’t have a supportive parent or role model. Their lives are a mess. Instead of a fountain of encouragement, voices of condemnation spew from the dark places within them—and will continue to long after their parents are gone unless Jesus intervenes.
So, I now realize what an unfair advantage I’ve had in life. I had a mother who loved me no matter what, who believed in me and was proud of me. She modeled the love of the Father so well. But she was also a shining example of how one can overcome obstacles through perseverance and unwavering faith in God.
I still look up to her. I always will.
Thanks be to God for Frannie Bishop.