Last week my mother would have turned 95.
It’s hard to believe she’s been gone 23 years, but her influence in my life is ever present and will be with me all my days.
Minnie Fay loved to socialize, play cards (especially Bridge) and do things spontaneously. She loved to travel and try new things, and I got that from her.
Though she was not a college graduate, she wanted me to be, and for me to experience different cultures and ways of life outside West Texas.
When I was in the 7th grade I remember her telling me that, when I grew up, she didn’t want me to live in Odessa. Not that she didn’t like Odessa, but she felt there was more for me to experience and explore beyond the arid plains of the Permian Basin.
I always knew she loved me. She told me so, frequently. I was an only child, and she sought out different venues to expose me to cultural things like the time when I was 12 and she dragged me to Montilla’s Dance Studio to sign me up for ballroom dance lessons. As a “wannabe” football hero, I protested as best I could, blurting out, “Mom, dancing is for sissies!”
That is, until that first lesson when I realized there were 2 girls for every boy in these classes. Mom knows best!
When opportunity opened up for me to go Europe for 6 weeks with a group of graduating seniors right out of high school, she immediately said, “you’re going.”
It was a life-changing adventure that set the course for my future career and lifestyle. My mom was one to share little nuggets of wisdom with anyone who’d listen. Quips like: “You got to love people --- warts and all.” “The most important things in life aren’t things.” and “Be sure and take a cookie when the plate is passed.“
Most importantly, my mother laid the foundation for my heart to be open to spiritual things that would come to fruition later in life. She was the one who first told me Jesus loves me. She reminded me often she was praying for me, and that God was always in control.
Though I did believe in all that, I went through a disinterested, apathetic phase of life in my early college years. When pressed if I’d attended church one particular Sunday morning, I recall telling her on the phone “Mom, how could I go to church,? I‘ve got the worst hangover I’ve ever had!“ But Mom persisted and taught me through example like putting $25 faithfully in the offering plate every Sunday, even when we didn’t have a lot of money.
She reminded me that God owns everything we have, and that He loves a cheerful giver. When my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer at age of 71, she became an even greater witness of her faith to all those around her.
She told those who had listening ears that she had no fear of dying and that soon, God’s angels would be escorting her to her eternal home. She yearned to see Jesus and took comfort in knowing she’d see us again on the other side.
I was with her when she passed from this life. Kneeling beside her deathbed, I heard her say, through strained whisper, these last sweet words to me: ”Charlie, my son, I love you....YOU were the highlight of my life.”
How does one process those words? I felt honored, humbled, unworthy - and loved. I bowed my head and cried. I missed my momma. It’s then I realized that there’s nothing quite like a mother’s love for her child, regardless of age... warts and all.
Charlie Norman has lived in Somervell County since 1994. He and his wife have two adult children, who graduated from Glen Rose schools. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.