She explained to me that mom's tears where tears of sorrow that turned to tears of happiness and joy because of Jesus!
A tribute to my dear mother who went to be with Jesus on this very date, 6 years ago...
She was small in stature -- not much more than 5'0” -- but had a heart bigger than the universe! She was a farmer's daughter from Kentucky with 14 siblings. Her maiden name was Conner, Irish descent so she had a good mix of fight and stubbornness! She never flew on a plane, didn't want to. She never drove a car and only went to school to the 8th grade. In the world's eyes she would appear very simple, uneducated, no titles, no fame, no fortune. But in the eyes of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren she was a saint representing unconditional love, wisdom – not wisdom from a book but from just living. She was strength, she was an over comer, a force not to reckon with or if you did you would regret it! She knew her mind, could speak it and yet knew when best not to. She was lovely with a beautiful smile and contagious laughter. Sang like a song bird, dancing about, light on her feet. Always doing something, never lazy, working hard. Doing what needed to be done.
For her, life dealt some very hard blows, a lot of pain, a lot of burdens. But if you were to meet her you would have never guessed it. She was an incredible person full of life, love, endurance and persistence. If life was hard you just dealt with it. She had 12 children, 2 passed on. She loved her children deeply. Oh, she had her opinions and her ways of discipline and for many of us children we felt it at the end of a switch or a hand.... much deserved! But we all knew she loved us and was there for us!
I remember one particular time playing all afternoon at a friends house (did not get permission) and of course mother was worried sick. I snuck in the back door and I ran upstairs to my bedroom, thinking I could pretend to fall asleep and not get in trouble, only to find a switch laying on the bed waiting for me. So I took the switch, broke it in two and turned around and there was mom standing in the doorway ...calmly she told me to march right down stairs and go get another one. I thought that's fine I'll get a thin one, it won't hurt. Needless to say that I had a lesson to learn and many more!
There were no strangers to her, she loved people. She had an unusual way of reaching out to others and making them feel loved and important. They walked away feeling special... I remember as child going with her door to door calling for bus ministry, inviting people to church. She always took the time to listen to many who were hurting. She didn't drive a car, but that didn't stop her. We would just walk to a certain street and start at one end and go door-to-door to the other end. She wanted people to come to church and find Jesus!
Mom loved music. She played the guitar and oh how I loved hearing her sing. She had that sweet mix of slight Irish/country/story ballad type. I can see her now strumming the guitar and singing. What a Day that will Be, There is an Unseen Hand, Take My Hand Precious Lord, Some Through the water some through flood, some through the fire but all through the blood, Where the Roses never Fade, Thirty Pieces of Silver . She loved singing in the church choir...music was a part of her life. Whenever we would go to Conner reunions you could understand why...lots of music...lots of singing; it's in their blood! She passed that love on to her children! Every one of my brothers play the guitar and a sister plays the piano!
Mom knew how to cook. She could take a few ingredients, work her magic and make something absolutely delicious out of it..She was known for her yeast rolls, her pies, her fried chicken on and on the list goes. She would always have a spread ready for her children to eat no matter what time they got in. Something was always on the stove or in the oven ready to be devoured. At Thanksgiving everyone always wanted her turkey dressing. Even now when I smell certain spices they bring a flood of memories of watching her cook, pouring love into what she made.
Mom loved Jesus! And that was it clear and simple. We were living pretty close to downtown Indy, off of State street when a knock on the door started a chain of events that changed her life. A pastor, a bus ministry and mom agreeing to send me – I must have needed it more then my siblings! -- to a little Nazarene church on Washington St. I remember seeing children riding the bus with their moms or seeing families coming to the church and I would go back home and ask mom to please come with me.. not knowing Jesus was already beginning the work. I clearly remember getting up one Sunday morning and there she was dressed so beautiful ready to go to church. It was that Sunday in the main service that I saw my precious mother go forward to receive Jesus as her Savior! I remember seeing her kneeling at the altar crying and not understanding why, and a dear lady, Mrs. Hurt sat down beside me saying, “Janie do you understand what's going on?” She began to explain to me that mom's tears where tears of sorrow that turned to tears of happiness and joy because of Jesus! My dear mother came to church that day with a broken heart and left totally changed, transformed by the healing hand of Jesus! She loved her Lord and wanted her family and others to know Him. Calling became her mission! If she couldn't go door to door she was on the phone making calls. I think how every Saturday she would call her children. If they were not home that was ok she would call till she got them even if it was very late at night. I'm sure my siblings are smiling remember those calls and some sermons too! We would always be there for her on Mother's day though...10 children, in laws, grandchildren...she was so pleased to see us all there!
Oh how she loved us, full of spunk, vim and vigor. You couldn't hide anything from her! She had a mischievous streak, loved to play pranks. She ran, played, climbed right along with us. She cried with us, laughed with us, prayed untold hours for us. She talked to us, listened to us, always, always loving on us with hugs and kisses. Those small arms and hands of hers wrapped around our lives the greatness of who she was to us...our dear little mother.
And so it was right about now as I am writing this, six years ago that she was taking her last breaths. The doctors were amazed scratching their heads that she lasted as long as she did from the massive strokes. But her children knew she would fight and hang on till she was ready! That's just how she was. I had the privilege of having her in my arms those last moments and singing, Where the roses never fade. All was quiet and peaceful when she took that last step here from us and entered another place to see her Lord!
I miss her today, and know the rest of my dear family does too. We all have many stories, many memories of this sweet little lady who gave us life. How do you put into words a lifetime of treasures, to put it on paper seems so inadequate to what the soul really feels. My soul feels so incredibly blessed by this little woman. So much that to some degree I understand the depth of love for her family. Here I am reminded how the Lord has blessed me with a wonderful loving husband and two precious sons. What a privilege I have in being a mother. What gifts from the Lord Lawrence and Elliot are! My prayer is that I can be to them what mom was to me. My heart is full of thanksgiving and gratitude for this life I have been given. Happy Mother's Day, Mom! I love you!