A Mother’s Day Tribute
The year was 1924. It was a cold January day when a baby girl was born into this world. She was the second to oldest in a family of six. Emma Irene lived a life in the country surrounded by animals and farmland as far as the eye could see. She was bright and lovely and full of ideas and often dreamed of becoming a teacher.
She excelled in school and had plans to earn a high school diploma, but that was not to be. The family came first, and this family needed an able-bodied worker more than they needed another student. High school was not going to be an option for Irene, and neither was her dream.
Irene left her family home to move to the city and into an apartment. The year was 1944. The war had created a demand for factory workers and Irene knew she could support herself by finding one of these jobs. Her sisters were getting married and starting their own families, but Irene hadn’t yet met the man who would make her weak in the knees.
It was at a fundraiser some time later that a tiny event in her life would grow into a lifetime of change. A strapping young soldier introduced himself and bought her a box supper. He was enamored of the beautiful woman so full of life and so genuine. He began to court her and in 1946 he proposed they head to Georgia with another couple and “tie the knot”.
Irene’s life was changed forever. She soon became the mother to four beautiful children whom she doted on. Her quiet Christian life was a great influence on her husband, and he began to follow her example and also devoted his life to Christ. Together, they raised four Christian children who taught their children the importance of God in their lives. This ripple effect would bring dozens more to Christ.
As a mother, she taught her children the importance of self-sacrifice, the value of family and, most importantly, living a righteous life. She was known far and wide for her culinary skills, particularly her chocolate pie. At the local bake sale, her pies always had the highest bids. Her recipes were coveted and shared freely from generation to generation.
Irene’s table was never empty, and no one left her home hungry. The only thing to match her cooking skills was the love with which the food was prepared and the hospitality with which it was given. She exemplified a grace and beauty in her hospitality toward others. When she said “Come in and stay a while,” she truly meant it.
As a grandmother, she taught the values of endurance and calm strength, of compassion and forgiveness, of friendship and thoughtfulness, graciousness and kindness. Her grandchildren knew her love by her hugs, which were accompanied by her often spoken phrase, “Love those bones, Granny’s little sweethearts.” She would rock the grandbabies in the old black rocking chair, lulling them to sleep with the creaking of the chair while quietly singing “Rock-a-bye baby.”
In 2014, Emma Irene was laid to rest. She had spent over 90 years on this earth, 68 of them married to the love of her life. Her ambition of finishing school to become a teacher was a dream that was never fulfilled by her, but instead by her daughters. Her belief in the importance of education resonated with her children and produced a wave of educators in the next two generations.
She never became famous in the world’s eye. She never started a multimillion dollar business or traveled the world. She never stood on a stage and delivered eloquent speeches or even accepted a diploma. But, don’t think that she wasn’t enormously influential or inspirational.
She inspired hundreds by her grace and quiet beauty. She influenced dozens with her unconditional love. Even after her death, many still speak of her hospitality and concern for others. Personally, I spend my life considering if I might make her proud.
Though she was never famous to others, she was, and is, famous to me. I will never live up to the example she set as a mother and wife. I will never have her patience. I will never have her ability to accept what I can not control. I can only hope to have her generous and thoughtful nature to influence a new generation of her children. She was and is a hero to me.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers who have, quietly and gracefully, inspired a new generation.
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