“…the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ ” (I Corinthians 15:54-55)
When I was a teen, my mother was my best friend. Mom was a stay-at-home mother, as were most mothers in those days. I would come home from school and she was always there to greet me. After working on my homework, I would sit by the stove while she prepared dinner (in those days, moms did that too). We would chat. I could tell her about almost anything and she usually had some wise advice. I clearly remember telling her about some boy I had a crush on, who didn’t know I existed. Her advice? “Marilyn, boys are like street cars. If you miss one, another one will come along.” I can’t remember who the boy was, but I do remember Mom’s wise counsel.
Mom was a godly woman. She loved the Lord and served him ably, along with raising 6 kids, one of whom had very special needs. Along with serving in many capacities at church, she took very seriously her job of raising her children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). When I would act out in anger or pig out on a favorite food, Mom would quietly admonish, “The fruit of the Spirit is…self-control” (Galatians 5:22). When we siblings would get into the inevitable skirmish, Mom would remind us, “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9).
I lived at home the first 3 years of college, so the closeness continued. Sixteen years ago, my mother came to live with us, which she did for 13 years. How I loved that woman! She always had a smile for us and always knew when to speak and when to hold her peace. She was a very wise and very loving person.
As Mom aged, she suffered from ever-worsening dementia. Her last 2+ years of life, she lived in a memory care facility. She was the favorite resident of most of the staff. In spite of her dementia, she always was ready with a smile and a hug and never uttered an unkind word or curse. As many people succumb to dementia, they lose control of much, including their sense of propriety. How often I would hear elderly persons swear a blue streak when upset about something. Mom never swore. I never heard her swear when she was cogent, and I don’t think swear words were anywhere in her brain that they could sneak out when she was frustrated and demented.
Mom died last month. I truly expected to be devastated. However, every time I think of Mom, I rejoice that she is with Jesus where there is “no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4) I think of Mom restored in body and mind, singing praise to Jesus for his saving work on the cross that allowed her to enter heaven. I sing, too. I will someday join Mom with all the saints who went before us. I miss Mom, but I know she is far better off with Jesus. Save me a spot, Mom; I’ll be coming eventually. Meanwhile, Death has no sting! Praise God!
Marilyn is a retired OB/GYN and member of the Study With Friends Ministries advisory board. For more about the “fruit of the spirit” mentioned here, you may enjoy our Galatians 5: Fruit of the Spirit study.