Leading The Way

With her 92nd birthday approaching (the end of August), my mother Ruthe must contemplate the final days (or years, we hope) of her incredible life on this planet. I’ve shared her stories more than a dozen times in this space, among them Everybody’s FineThe Tale of Bobbie Pringle (in 2 parts), and Safe In His Arms. I’ve also posted poems where she was my subject:  Mother of Mine, Touchstone. Along life’s journey, she has embraced numerous adventures, taken surprising risks and absorbed monumental losses. What a blessing she has been to me (and her other offspring)!

The photo above was taken a couple weeks ago. She needed groceries and I was in town, so we drove to the nearby SuperCenter. Because she lacks the stamina she once had, I suggested she try the motorized shopping cart. I’ve never used one of these devices … nor had she until that day! (Keep in mind, she’s almost totally blind, with only a sliver of cloudy light squeezing into the uppermost corner of her left eye.) Still, I figured the electric cart was worth trying, since I worried her knees might give way during our trek through the massive store.

As things turned out, we managed to collect her groceries without inflicting excess damage to the cart or any merchandise lining the aisles … and thankfully, no customers were permanently injured during this endeavor! When she first grasped the forward/reverse lever, the cart unexpectedly shot forward, leaving me far behind. I caught up quickly and decided to set my hand to the “wheel” to control the cart’s speed and direction. It was my chance to walk beside her, guiding her to the k-cups, the oatmeal and her other important purchases. Making our way (slowly) around the store, she depended on my guidance, but strange as it might seem, she was leading the way … as she always has!

For as long as I can remember, she has been my guide – loving me, teaching me, nurturing my interests, demonstrating fearlessness and a steadfast trust in God. During my youth, I watched her mother my younger siblings, faithfully love her husband and provide care (and a home) for cast-off children. She lived out her Christian faith and was my first and most influential role model.

My mother’s exceptional qualities came to mind when I opened the pages of a new book that arrived in my mailbox this week. My friend Sally Meredith generously gifted me a copy of her 2014 book, Ruth:  The Story is in the Names. When my mother entered this world, she bore the name Marion Ruth. Eventually expressing her personal preferences, Mom dropped Marion and became Ruthe (pronounced Ruthie). The biblical Ruth is one of my favorite characters from history, no doubt (in part) because my mother shares her name. So, as I dove into Sally’s book, I kept seeing my mother’s face.

This from the Introduction:  “The biblical book of Ruth is a classic from every angle. We find heartache at the deepest level. Adventure abounds. Suspense is woven in the fabric of ordinary lives … The book of Ruth tells the story of God’s love and care for the fledgling human race whose only hope is God Himself. In the end, love wins the day.”

Heartache at the deepest level? Check. My mom has experienced crushing heartache since childhood. Adventure? Check, again. A 91-year-old blind woman operating a motorized cart is only the most recent adventure she’s survived! God’s love and care for this present-day Ruth? Oh, my, how marvelously our God has loved and cared for her!

Though I haven’t nearly finished the book yet, reminders of my mom and the awesome God we serve draw me deeper into the slim volume (122 pages) … and back to my Bible where four short chapters lay out the beautiful tale of God’s love and provision for a young widow named Ruth and her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi.

Today, Mother’s Day 2018, I acknowledge my mother’s days are drawing to a close. (Not too soon! my selfish heart entreats.) This I know:  she has lived well and honorably. Through every stage of life, she’s blazed the trail for me, permitting me to piggy-back on her courage and learn what it means to finish well. She has done exactly that. I honor her today. “A woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)

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