I fell heir to my dad’s copies of his dad’s letters to his children as they were scattered throughout the United States and around the world in ministry. Among them, I found a a piece that my grandpa, R. G. Finch Sr wrote after his mom passed away.
I know Mother’s Day has passed but it is still May and May is the month of mothers so I’m going to share it with you.
“I hope and pray that this article will be the means of saving someone, or man, from suffering as I have done since the funeral of my precious mother a short time ago. I feel that I failed her, and my loved ones, and the great crowd that filled the little white church that Sunday afternoon. If I had the opportunity again, I would rise to my feet as the preacher sat down, step to the foot of her coffin, (I sat within six feet of it), face the congregation and say:
“I have known this little mother nearly forty-six years. I never saw her angry, but many times observed her eyes sparkle with mirth, joy and gladness, and, at other times, swim with tears caused by sorrow and suffering. One of my uncles told me sometime ago that she was always the life of the crowd. She would ignore and ride over her own sorrow to make others happy. My father died six years ago and Mother told me each time we met that she missed him more each year. Thiss she told but few, always hiding her shadows behind smiles and a cheerful voice.
“There is no doubt in my mind that her careful training held me from getting clear away from God in my teens. I could not bot out the picture of us children kneeling at her knees praying our ‘Now I lay me down to sleep…..”
“I saw her in crushing sorrow, alone with her little family, ack in the black-jacks of Tennessee when little Arlie — her baby — died. Arlie, like Mother, was tender — full of pity and love. Arlie did not know that the poor sick kitten she picked up and pressed to her little heart belonged to the little girl across the creek who was so sick with diphtheria.
“The little girl across the creek got well, but Arlie died. During the long months following, I would run into the house, as any child would, to tell Mother something or to ask for something only to find her on her knees in the pantry, weeping. Perhaps she would be scrubbing mixing the salty tears with scrub water. All this gripped my childish heart, until a picture of labor, suffering and prayer has followed me through the years. I saw labor necessary, suffering sure, and the only relief was prayer.
“As I walked home at the age of twenty after praying through at the night meeting, it suddenly dawned upon me that it had been years since I had put my arms around Mother, kissed her and told her that I loved her. Oh, I had been fairly good to her but she had washed my clothes, ironed my shirts and done all that she could being a mother of limited means, to make me happy but I had neglected what would have cost me nothing but would have meant so much to her.
“I felt so bad about this that I resolved the next morning to make up for lost time as much as possible. When Mother and I were alone, I slipped up behind her, clasped her hands and buried my face in her neck and told her she was the best and dearest mother in the world and that I was sorry for my neglect and carelessness. She tried to turn around to get hold of me but I was ashamed to have her see the tears rolling down my cheeks.
“She quivered with emotion while tears flowed down her cheeks as well. Ever since that morning she knew that she would get loved every time I came home. Although my work took me far from home, I have tried to see her as often as possible. I recall the picture of Mother on the front porch with a clean apron and her face twitching with gladness, half-laughing, half-crying, stepping here and there because she knew her boy would soon be home to take her in his arms, to love her and kiss away unfortunate memories of his neglect through his teen-age years.
“I’m so sorry that I did not speak in this way at my father’s funeral. I can see him coming across the yard, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, for he, too, knew that he would be kissed. Oh, for more love, more prayer, more old-time family altars, more Bible reading and more nestling up to God and the truth.
“No matter where I have gone, my mother’s letters have come as regularly as the seasons. When she did not know where to write me, she would send my letters to my home address and tell my folk to forward them.
“Mother taught me my first prayer. She gave me a life example of patience. She was a peacemaker. Ever since knowing a little of the Bible, I have coupled her with that verse in the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ which says, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’
“Mother is in heaven this lovely day. She has seen our Savior, met the loved ones who had gone on before and been greeted by them. I shall miss her letters, oh so much. I will not have her to draw me to old Indian Hill any more; but, Pearl and Roy, you are still here. Covenant with me to set our faces to go to that Home one day that Jesus went to prepare for us. Let us be true to our parents and faithful to our children.
“These are the words I wish I would have said that Sunday afternoon at her funeral, but I failed. I wish I had for my mother’s sake and for all the love she always gave me.