Happy birthday, Mom


Today would have been my mom’s 79th birthday. She probably would have said that Moses didn’t get his big job until he was 80, which would give her another year to study. However, she would not have turned away cake or presents for a future date. Here I look back at the eulogy I provided for her.

I met Valeree Lane in 1968. We were womb mates for 10 months at which point she evicted me. It was amicable, but 44 years later she’s again exposed me to the cold, cruel world. She’s in Heaven rejoicing and I’m left to sit and cry. If you find me in that state, try what worked in infancy — offer me a change, a bottle, or a burp.

Asked to describe my mother, I wold say, “Godly woman.” She did personal study, research for others and raised Doug and me to know that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. She also explained that fear was not scared trembling, but holy reverence.

She read us Proverbs at breakfast and prayed scriptures over us daily.

I believe our faith walks have been influenced greatly by her. Doug is the head usher at Faith Tabernacle; Cheri is pursuing a counseling ministry; Zachary has been on a couple of mission trips and is looking into more; and Amanda has always been a woman of God, who thought about youth ministry. As for me, I read and study, trying to better understand the Jewish roots of Christianity.

Our home is filled with books, but the two most important are the Holy Bible and Adele Davis’ Let’s Get Well. Sore throat? Pantothenic acid and zinc. Nerves shot? B vitamins.

I don’t want you to think that Mom was all study and no play.

The eldest of six sisters, she had a fair amount of responsibility. Always of a mechanical mindset, she could keep her charges in line by grabbing their hand, then touching the electrical fence.

I’m glad she perfected her rearing instincts before Doug and I came along.

Family was always important to Mom. Her grannies and grandpa were legendary in the family. Once in a softball game, Granny Griffin was asked to bat. The outfield moved in and Granny hit a grand slam home run.

Grandpa Griffin was a writer who wrote stories as varied as his descendants. It’s said that he was published once in Reader’s Digest, and that the Tennessee Waltz was stolen from him when he sent the words in to be set to music. That’s okay. I’m going to start the rumor that he coined the phrase, “Don’t mess with Texas.”

One of my favorite stories involves Granny Mitchell. Mom bought a house before she was married. It was the location of many parties and one found Granny imbibing the best punch of her life. Mom went out earlier in the day to shop. The response to what anyone needed was something tall and wet. Mom returned with a gallon of wine, which ended up in the punch.

I never saw my mother drink alcohol, but it became a running joke when she had frequent dehydration issues. “You never offer me something work drinking,” she’d say.

Mom never expected to get married and have children. She met my father at my Aunt Carolyn’s wedding. He was making numerous trips out to Uncle Donald’s car. She described him as a drunken, cross-eyed walrus. Look at the mustache now. Was she wrong?

Courting a girl from Texas wasn’t easy. He took her to a shooting gallery, not realizing she’d been handling a rifle since age 9.

Hormones kicked in, and a quick marriage in a small Los Angeles chapel lasted 46 years.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention her wit. She saw me reading A.J. Jacobs’ The Know It All, and asked if I had written it. A couple of years ago my parents were fighting about the lawn tractor. When Dad went back into the house, I asked her how she ended up with such a (insert your own expletive). “Which one?” she asked deadpan.

She was a remarkable individual whom I will spend the rest of my Earthly life missing. I’m so glad she is out of pain and reveling in the company of all of our kin who have passed.


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