A KISS FROM HEAVEN
This week I celebrated a birthday. I have to admit this one was a little difficult. Not only did I celebrate Mother’s Day for the first time without my Mom. This was also my first birthday without her. On a more superficial note, instead of creeping up on 60 years of age, I seem to be galloping at full speed. I have a feeling that the big 6-0 is going to jump on me when I least expect it! I know, I know, age is just a state of mind. Unfortunately, my body and my mind seem to have a breakdown in communication. My mind says I’m still 30; my body just laughs hysterically.
When I was growing up in East Tennessee, we were very poor. We really couldn’t afford big birthdays or birthday gifts. Instead, Mom would cook our favorite meal and cake for supper. For several years, my favorite cake was a deep dark chocolate cake with a special snow-white icing that was hard on the outside and soft in inside (can’t remember what it was called). As I approached my teen years, my cravings switched to her homemade German chocolate cake. My favorite meal for years was her fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green peas and sweet iced tea. Is your mouth watering yet?
When I moved away from home, Mom didn’t always send traditional birthday cards. She had a tendency to make her own or send me a sweet message on her favorite stationary. When Mom started fighting cancer and mental illness in 2005, she would sometimes forget my birthday. For a few years, my feelings were hurt. Now, I realize she was having a hard time just making it through one day at a time.
I miss Mommy. I miss being able to call her and share the joys and struggles of the everydayness of life. I miss being able to send her photographs of my camellias in the winter, gardenias in the spring, and now the peaches from our peach trees. She would get such joy out of the simple things. She loved flowers, birds, trees, and dirt – yes – the dark rich fertile dirt of Tennessee where she and Daddy always had a beautiful garden.
As my birthday was ending and I was getting ready for bed Thursday night, I glanced up to the top of one the bookshelves and noticed one of my old jewelry boxes. I reminded myself to look through it soon and donate some of the old jewelry.
When I came home Friday, I retrieved the box and opened it up. There on top were two treasures I had received from Mom years before. The first was an envelope from October 2000 full of photographs of her front porch, her flowers, her bird bath and many of her simple pleasures. Each had a post-it note attached setting forth a narrative as she gave me a guided tour around her yard, starting with her front porch.
I want to share some of the narrative with you.
Dear Daughter, I love you dearly. Wish you were here. I took these the day
before we had a killing frost. We’ve had one every morning since! “Global
(On the photo of the front porch), “This was before we bought the patio set
and screen. As you can tell the porch needs a railing . . .. “ (On the next photo
of the porch,) “As you can tell the porch needs a pretty wrought iron railing.
It will cost an arm and a leg-but . . .” (On the third photo of the porch), “As you
can tell the porch cries out for a new wrought iron railing!!” (She had drawn an
iron railing around the porch in the photo.) “Isn’t it pretty? I have white and red
roses ready to climb.” “Can’t you hear the wind chimes these cold frost mornings?”
The photographs guide me along . . . out the back door, down the steps,
“See my pretty little bird bath. My bluebirds love it. This is my ‘heaven’! . . .
turn around . . cold, cloudy, wonderful leaf filled day . . . flower filled, bird filled,
dying . . Daddy’s garden . . .see the eggplant, sunflowers, okra, morning glories in
the dead corn! Smell the dirt, cedar, leaves – “Home”! I love you Kathy. God bless
your life with Carey. I hear the mighty hunter returning. Love, “Mommy”
As you can imagine the tears started to flow. Especially when I saw the photograph of her sweet little birdbath and her referring to her "heaven" . . . knowing that right now, she is in her true heaven.
I set those photographs aside and reached for my next treasure.
My Darling Girl,
This is an early “Happy Birthday” card filled with my love and prayers for you—even
enclosed a smell of this place I call home. (She had enclosed a sprig of lavender.)
I pray for you – and yours—sunshine, flowers, peace, the smell of good earth, fresh
Be good dear one. Give everyone hugs and kisses. All my Love, Mommy
In addition to the sprig of lavender, she had enclosed a page from the May 1999 “Country Homes & Gardens” magazine. It was a drawing of a women sitting in a chair on her front porch, a book folded on her lap, while she gazed out over her flowers, her yard, and the trees. Mom had written, “How close our hearts must be – I thought of you on the porch!” I pray this “place of peace” for you. Love, Mommy.
She had written this while I was living in Dallas. I didn’t live in a place where I could sit on the front porch or back yard and gaze out over the flowers or trees. Now, seventeen years later, while living in lower Alabama, I do find peace sitting in my back yard with a book in my lap, soaking up the sun, admiring the trees, the birds, the grass, the breeze . . . praising God for His creation and thanking Him for the senses to enjoy all the “simple” blessings He gives.
For my birthday God allowed my mother to send me a reminder of her love. Finding those little treasures Friday morning was my Mommy’s kiss from heaven.
I am not offering any theological truth here. I’m just sharing the simple blessing of finding memories of a mother who valued the simple things in life. She was a woman that found joy in flowers, birds, trees and dirt (can’t get much simpler than dirt). Most of all, she loved the Lord with her whole heart and she loved her family dearly.
May we all be reminded to slow down and value what is most important: our relationship with the Lord, our family and friends, and the simple beauty of all the blessings we take for granted every day.
Thank you Lord for Mommy’s kiss from Heaven.
Kathy Garrett McInnis