NOTE: I wrote this blog on Mother’s Day, May 10. I started with a made-up story that illustrated the point of the unreliability of family legends. As I was rewriting it, the “tenses and pronouns” got changed until it sounded like it was MY family, MY Uncle Billy, and MY story. That was unintentionally misleading and many have assumed it was a true story. I apologize. While I am a storyteller and there is always some accepted blarney in good stories, this one crossed the line and I do not want that to happen. One of the most important aspects of my life of sobriety is honesty. Again, I am sorry and ask you to forgive me. This is the more corrected version: Mike, May 12.
We all have family legends that are just assumed fact until we do a little research to verify them. One family talked about Uncle Billy being in the CIA. Everybody in the family knew that and liked to tell the story of the spy they had in their family tree. Most never met Uncle Billy. He was killed during the Korean War, probably on some secret mission. But they all told the story of Uncle Billy in the CIA.
Then one day. Someone decided to look into that. Maybe one of the grandkids was writing a paper for school. They did a little research. Called some elderly cousin that lived in Arizona. She went farther back than they wanted to go and told more than they wanted to hear. Eventually, she circled back around to UB and said, “No, Uncle Billy wasn’t in the CIA. He was a private in the Army and worked as a security guard at the Pentagon.” (Now, it’s all coming together.) “And he actually was hit by a bus in Baltimore as he was leaving a Korean restaurant.”
Man, you have to be careful about family legends. Here’s one from my family; my sister was born on May 10, my mother’s birthday, and ON MOTHER’S DAY. How cool is that? WE have told that story as long as I can remember. Charlotta was the best Mother’s Day present that my mom ever had. Really, it took a lot of pressure off of us down through the years. We long ago quit agonizing over buying the perfect Mother’s Day gift. No matter how good it was, we knew that at some point during the day we would hear the words, “Well, you know that Charlotta was the best Mother’s Day present I could ever have.”
I will admit, she was a good one. Of all the Courtney kids, she had the biggest heart. From the very first, when we would gather at night for family prayer time, Charlotta would pray for missionary children all around the world…BY NAME…ONE AT A TIME…LONG PRAYERS. She was the one to take in stray people. We had a military young man, Brian Cisco, that Charlotta adopted and made a part of our family. She was about 8 at the time. For years, Brian was at our table for special occasions. We still hear from him around Charlotta’s birthday. (The best Mother’s Day my mom ever had!)
Sis, we called her Sis, was tender, talented, and loved God. She was the best piano player in a family of piano players. She spent days and days every summer witnessing to college kids at Myrtle Beach. She surrounded herself with a young group of girls she called “The Power & Light Company”, (catchy huh?) and did little coffee house shows up and down the Grand Strand.
Most of you know that Charlotta had put together a little community youth choir in Ashland City, TN, and was going to lead them in a 4th of July concert for the town. She was killed in an automobile accident the day before, July 3rd, 1976. (I checked the date.)
Well, imagine my dismay when I sat down to write this little blog about the best Mother’s Day present ever and, just to be sure, Googled, Mother’s Day 1955. Guess what. It was May 8, not May 10. Charlotta might have been the best Mother’s Day present ever but she came 2 days AFTER Mother’s Day. Another family legend bites the dust. 😊
So, what application do I have for you about that? Well, Mother’s Day and Mother’s Day gifts transcend the calendar. Moms, of all people, give gifts all year long, when they sit by our beds while we have a fever, when they come to our ballgames although everyone knows we will ride the bench and not get in the game, and when they tell us what a great prayer we prayed when it was way too long and mentioned every missionary kid in 5 continents. And, moms, of all people, get gifts all year long. They revel in the recitation we learn for kindergarten President’s Day. They are delighted by the fact that we thank them in our high school graduation speech. And they count it such a wonderful gift when we drop by with the grandkids on our way to the lake, just to let her see us before we leave town for a week. Gift giving and gift receiving is so wrapped up in being a mother that there are no calendar restraints.
The second application is that mothers and Mother’s Day transcends time. Charlotta was indeed born on Mom’s birthday, May 10. (Two days AFTER Mother’s Day in 1955) She was indeed killed just 21 years later, July 3, 1976. But for the next 40 years, Mom celebrated her and her birthday by telling the story of the “best birthday present ever.” In fact, since 2012 (so many dates), when Mom went to heaven, we have celebrated on May 10, the fact that Mom and Charlotta (and Cheralyn, but that’s another story) are spending their birthday together, eating cake and ice cream with Jesus. Motherhood and mothering are as much in the nature of God as fatherhood and therefore, remain eternally present I think. Jesus said that we won’t have marriage and marriage relationships in heaven like we do here, but I don’t believe that precludes us from having mothers there. I hope that is true. Next to Jesus, it will be her intercession for me that gets me in, I’m pretty sure.
So, on this Mother’s Day, May 10, 2020, just know that whether your mother is still here or is waiting for you over there, she is still your mother and always will be. She might get on your nerves at times. She might drive you crazy. She may even have made a mistake or two, but the Mother relationship transcends all time, lasts for eternity, and deserves our very best gift, our presence. Love your moms today. My guess is that if you simply give them a call they will say, “Best Mother’s Day present ever.” And if they are gone, tell good stories about them. The bad stuff will fade away if you do.
As for Uncle Billy, aww, keep him in the CIA. It makes for a much better school report than getting hit by a bus in Baltimore.
Happy Birthday Mom and Sis….