As a second grader I won an essay contest titled, “My Mom is best because…” Today on her 68thbirthday, I think I’ll try again.
Sue Young Jones was born into a large farming family in Lisbon, LA. She grew up poor but says they did not know it because they had food to eat, clothes to wear, and a house to live in. Mom was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes when she was seven. The diagnosis was difficult and the prognosis was grim. Few diabetics lived beyond their twenties in that day. Life expectancy was short and expectations of families and career were low.
So part of the reason I think my mom is the best is because of all the things that are that were not expected to be.
My mom decided to head off to college in spite of the fears it caused for those that loved her. She majored in home economics on a scholarship she earned raising prize cows. She supplemented the scholarship by selling those prize cows as she went. Mom graduated early….with honors.
One day during college, mom was in a group at a card game with a quiet shy guy that sat at the table for a couple of hours without saying a word. Mom leaned over, put her finger over her lips, and said, “Shhh, you’re talking too much.” Not sure what mom awakened in that young man but now it’s hard to get him to shut up.
Mom and Dad started a family that she was never supposed to expect and this past April they celebrated 46 years of marriage. The woman that was told not to have children had three kids who have been married for 21 years, 19 years and 14 years and have given her 9 grandchildren.
On the morning of the wedding day, Dad checked mom out of the hospital. She had been in the hospital for a week after what was probably the worst diabetic episode of her life. Dad was taking care of her that day just like he is today. Their marriage is a beautiful picture of what God intended. They bear each other’s burdens not as if they are burdens in their life, but the blessings of their life.
Mom became a middle school English teacher in Caddo Parish during the days of integration where she was the first and only white teacher in an all black school. One of her students there was an over-aged tall young 8th grade boy that could not read. He wanted to read so mom and he worked hard. One day he found her in the hall, pulled out a first grade primer, and read it. Then he grinned big and said, “Thanks, I can read.”
Mom believes in the power of reading and writing to change a person’s life. She taught junior high English because she if a kid that grasped the importance of reading and writing it would change their future. She started a Reading Enrichment program at Ruston Junior High. It was a reading and writing elective that served to spur kids forward in this skill so integral to their future success. Mom’s favorite student was always the kid from the illiterate or under-educated home that was working hard to get ahead. She loved fanning the flame of such potential into a roaring fire through the power of written words. Mom was told not expected to have a career, but she taught for 25 years and impacted for positive the lives of 1000’s.
She also loves teaching others about Jesus. Mom has a great reputation as a teacher of Scripture. She has a vast knowledge of the Bible and her Scripture memory is amazing. She has taught Sunday School and Discipleship training and most recently did a mentoring program for younger ladies called Apples of Gold. In this program she not only taught the Bible but she taught cooking and hosting. The husbands of these women have always been grateful. I am not sure if it was more for the spiritual or culinary, but they were grateful all the same.
Diabetes has indeed caused some difficulties. She had to retire earlier than she planned after a heart attack. She had to quit sewing and playing the piano because of arthritis. She broke a leg that took a 1 ½ years to heal. She lost her peripheral vision and had to quit driving many years ago.
The reality of what she was told about her future is not something she can stop. Truth is she prayed many times for healing as a child. She came to grips that this was the thorn in her flesh intended for the glory of the Lord. So mom decided to live her life.
The realities of a childhood disease formed in her a view of life few have. Mom has always lived her life focused on what was instead of what was not. She has enjoyed what she has instead of worrying about what she does not have.
As I, and others, worry about what lies ahead. She does not. As Proverbs 31 says, “she laughs at the days ahead.” She is so grateful for what is she cannot worry about what might not be, but most importantly she is certain in what is to come.
So that is why I think my mom is the best.
Thanks for loving Jesus and teaching others to love him. Thanks for teaching kids not just reading but succeeding. Thanks for being brave and not bitter. Thanks for being grateful instead of fearful.
Thanks for loving Dad. Thanks for loving Denise and Rachel. Thanks for loving Wendy. Thanks for loving Daniel, Melanie, Kara, and all your grandchildren. And thanks for loving me.
I love you. You’re the best. And Happy Birthday!