Pearl Brock Tohline, February 18, 1916 – March 28, 2001

It’s Mother’s Day, so obviously my thoughts are turned to you. Most daughters might begin their Mother’s Day cards or letters with a paragraph of thanks, and God knows that next to God I am most grateful to you and Dad. I will get onto that later, but for some reason or other I want to tell you first how sorry I am. Because I know who you are I also know that you would say that there is nothing to apologize for, but knowing myself, I reiterate that there are.

There are countless reasons to say how sorry I am that I was not a better daughter to you. Because if anyone deserved a wonderful daughter, you certainly did. At least better than you got. Forgive me for ignoring your advice so many times, to my own detriment. Thank you for never saying I told you so when I discovered how right you were. Instead you always seemed to be proud that I had found out for myself what was right. I apologize that I was embarrassed by your enthusiasm for life. You always looked at life as a joy and you expressed yourself joyfully. I blushed to see you acting like a kid sometimes, and blushed even more in shame when I saw you catch my harshly critical eye. It was a long time before I realized that you were a genuinely happy person who drew others toward you lie a magnetic force. All sorts of people, especially children and the elderly came to you for laughter and comfort and love. In an effort to separate myself as an individual, I often ran the other way and as a result lost out on so much happiness and so many more happy memories we could have shared.

I am sorry that your pride in me was rejected out of hand because of the foolish notion that “parents have to be proud – it’s built into their DNA. They won’t tell you the real truth.” It wasn’t until I became a parent myself that I realized that our parents are the only ones who really know us, inside and out, and will always tell us the truth, because they know it better than we know it ourselves. Forgive me for not believing you when you told me I was beautiful and talented and lovely and loving. And thank you for telling me when I was being lazy and selfish and prodigal with all the gifts I had been blessed with. You were an amazing Mom, and no amount of love I could shower on you now could ever come close to what you showered on me.

Forgive me for being angry that you got Alzheimer’s Disease just when I needed you most. As if it was your fault. No one in the world deserves such a terrible fate, and you deserved it least of all. I wanted so much to be patient and caring with you, but it always seemed to come out as irritation and frustration. I wanted you to be my Mama, and not some empty-eyed look-alike doll who eventually did not even know who I was, but was somehow always glad to see me – whoever I may have been. I am so sorry that I became unable, rather, unwilling to give up a day and visit you in the last few months of your amazing life. You would have been horrified to know that I was also angry at God, because it seemed as though you had been robbed of your blessed assurance – that sure and certain faith that all would be well again. Thank you for proving me wrong. You taught me that nothing enshrined in one’s heart can ever be taken away without our permission. I know more than ever that your heart was the home of the Lord Jesus Christ, and you would never let Him go, but cling even harder in the face of tragedy, illness, pain, and disappointment.

Thank you for forever revealing to me that truth through your last words to me. On one of my last visits to you in the nursing home, I was sitting and holding your oh-so-thin hand in my own. You had long ago disappeared from sight behind blank, seemingly soulless eyes. Suddenly, out of the blue, you turned you head and looked at me. You really looked at me as though the shade had been lifted from inside, and all of you was present with me. You said something to me that I at first did not understand, and I implored you to say it again. “What did you say? What are you thinking?” Then very clearly, as plainly as you had ever spoken, you quoted a favorite verse of scripture, and one that I will never forget;  “Love one another.” The shade went down almost immediately, but I no longer cared because your last words to me were more precious than any others could have been. They proved to me that God still dwelt in your heart, and that you still had within you the prayers, hopes, and dreams for all of us that you had always held fast upon.

Mom, you were not perfect. I thank God for that every day, because it showed me that I did not have to be, that I could never be, no matter how hard I might try not to repeat the “mistakes” you made – all those things I swore to myself that I would never say to my own children, but inevitably did, and do. Thanks for letting me know that perfection is not required for good parenting – just do the best you can as you can, and trust God to fill in the blanks.

Thank you for being the “Granny” that  I will always aspire to be. Thank you for loving each one of your six grandchildren as precious individuals. Thank you for coming to the hospital right after our first born, Joshua, arrived. You had said you would wait til we brought him home, but excitement overtook you. Even though he was not your first grandchild, you just had to come, because, you said, “it’s different when it’s your daughter.”

Thank you for being a role model for me. I guess it is deep within me that I will always feel it impossible to ever measure up. You were a true student of the Bible. I remember every morning that I rose early enough, I would find you sitting at table in your favorite room in our house, “the blue room,” (decorated mostly in your favorite color), studying scripture along with several commentaries or devotional guides, and also sitting quietly in conversation with your Abba. You never began nor ended your day without praise, thanksgiving, or supplication. That is one of your disciplines I have yet to take on completely. From one of your study books you once read to me a line about the Samaritan woman at the well. “Jesus placed a crown above her head, and she would spend the rest of her life growing tall enough to wear it.”

Dear Mom, you did much the same for me. You exemplified for me a Christian, and I shall spend the rest of my life in an effort to follow your example, and the Example you yourself followed all of your days. Thank you for the forgiveness I feel from you at this moment, and for all the love, and tenderness and the stern reproach that you used with care to bring me to responsible adulthood. I ask only that you overlook the areas in which I am not yet complete, because you and I both know that “God isn’t finished with me yet.” I will always love you and be grateful for gifting me with enough. . .

Love, “Pook”

P.S.  My dear Gentle Readers, don’t miss out on the opportunity to tell your Mom what she meant and/or means to you. Time is always growing short. Also, remember that the equally important Father’s Day is coming next month. You can expect that I shall be writing another letter.