Many emails the last couple of weeks reminded me to send Norma the flowers and candy I usually send her on Mother’s Day. But I didn’t order them. I haven’t spent that 45 minutes or so picking out the exactly-right Mother’s Day card. And I’ve made no Mother’s Day phone call to tell her how much I love her and talk about my next visit. There will be no next visit in this life because my Mom, Norma, went to be with her Jesus on December 19.
How I miss her: her mischief smile that came at special times, her Delft blue eyes and the sudden surprise of her laugh!
I don’t think I will ever get used to using the past tense with her. How to describe her, the one who inspired my major passions for God and country? All her life she’s been known as a whirlwind, a firecracker – feisty, totally unstoppable, completely irresistible. She radiated her bright spirit and love of her Lord wherever she went, even on her answering machine: “Leave a message, I’m out spreading the Word!” Even with the debilitating health problems of the last year, ask her how she was and she’d flash a grin and chirp, “My cup runneth over!”
She was born Norma Louise Nordlund, second child of Karl and Selma, two hard-working Swedes who immigrated here in their teens. They instilled in their daughter their fierce love of America, their proud work ethic, honesty and integrity. These values guided her all of her life and she passed them on to her family. I learned from watching Mom how to become a voice for those values as she lobbied for phonics in the schools when we were kids, later demonstrating at Tea Party rallies for smaller, more responsible government, and writing so many letters to the editor that she was at one time actually banned from the paper in Naples, Florida where she lived — but only temporarily.
Her reverence for the English language and expressing oneself well she passed on to me and to the other writer in the family, my daughter Meredith. Mom’s views were never restrained by political correctness and I’m the same way – that must be a gene because most of her children and grandchildren share that frankness. She and I also shared a love of skiing—she learned when attending Colby Junior College in New Hampshire, getting an education uncommon for women in that era.
But her major passion was Jesus. “The Lord will provide” wasn’t just a Bible verse she constantly stressed to us, we could see it every day in her life – even to the mysterious way she always found the best parking space nearest wherever she was going – so predictably it became a family joke. Whenever a child or grandchild had a disappointment or didn’t get a desired job, Mom would always say, the Lord has something better in mind for you, sweetheart and she was always right. And when I was just a girl, she was the very first person to tell me that I could be anything I wanted to be and do anything I wanted to do.
What a talent she had for people. She visited every week at the Care Center in her community and used the saving Gospel of Christ to lift the spirits of those who were ill or lonely or depressed. She befriended strangers in the grocery line or at the next table in a restaurant and touched their hearts. Throughout her short illness we heard from so many she encouraged and prayed with through the years. How comforting it was to hear these people talk of how Mom had helped them.
Her energy often seemed supernatural and was surely God-given. For years she walked about three miles around her community daily, at a pace so brisk that her neighbors said their dogs never barked at her because she had sped past before they even knew she was there.
She was a force of nature in so many ways. But even though she had many saintly qualities, she was as fully human as any of us. She could be difficult and prideful, insisting on her will. She never let any of her three grown daughters drive her car – only her son. How annoying! And she was sometimes prickly about little things, inflating them into big things. But these sticky wickets, common in all families, never lasted long.
Mom acted out Jesus in her giving spirit and taught us so much about what it looks like to have him as a best friend. We knew she had special clout with him because her prayers were so powerful. We laughed that she would outlive us all and we half believed it.
But written in her worn Bible in her tiny perfect hand is this: “Death is moving day.”
Mom’s moving day came much too soon for us. On this first Mother’s Day without her I have many tears and so very many memories that my heart hurts with them. But then I think of her glorious entry into God’s presence – greeted by the love of her life, our Dad, along with her Mom and Dad, her brother — and the crowd, the enormous crowd of souls she actually helped to save and the people she touched with her love. I see them all coming toward her hands outstretched to clasp hers, huge grins on their faces, and the choir of the heavens singing their sweet rainbow harmony – and I can hear the trumpets sounding. Mom looks just over the heads of the crowd and sees a golden glow, a spectacular radiance full of power and grace and there suddenly is — Jesus. God says hi.