Tag Archives: Mother’s Day

Happy Mothers Day, Mom!

With Mother’s Day looming in a matter of hours, and having read several Facebook postings and blogs about other people moms, my own thoughts have turned to motherhood and memories of my own mother.  One thought in particular hit me—have spent more of my life without my mother than I have with her! hazel summers peterson

While my eyes brim with tears at that very thought, there is also a measure of happiness that mingles with thankfulness that encourages my spirit in spite of a seat in our family that has been left vacant for nearly 36 years now.  One cannot escape the void in his heart when God, in His perfect wisdom, calls a godly mother from the humble hovel of an earthly home of clay into that land that is fairer than day—a heavenly home that fadeth not away.

However, with each passing year of my own life I can honestly say that my gratitude for Hazel Margaret Summers Peterson grows.  Although time and space prevents sharing everything—even if I could remember everything, which isn’t going to happen, here are a few worthy elements to be considered, especially by young mothers who may have more life in front of them than in the rear view mirror.

Mother was the kind of mom who set a great example for her children … well not just her children, but for anyone who knew her … but I speak/write from the vantage point of a son.  Frankly, I was at times the one child of three who could have been labeled “the black sheep” of the family.  (Don’t expect me to admit to the specific reasons behind that!  Those events and times have long been forgiven by mom, dad, and God—and are buried in two graves behind the old buildings of Salem Baptist Church and in the depths of the sea!)

I suppose you could ask my brother Dennis or my baby sister Gina, but they won’t tell you either, because mother taught us not to gossip.  Thankfully, the two of them were much more obedient, caused fewer worries (and mom worried about everything, I think), and received fewer spankings, though those repercussions were called whippings when and where we were raised.

Our petite 98-pound mother knew how to discipline when it was warranted, unlike so many modern moms, it seems to me.  Oh, I see them in the stores and other public places.  Some of them yelling at their children (which our mother never did, at least that I recall) or threatening their offspring with a “time out.”  We didn’t have “time out;” we had “time in”—time in the garden, time in the strawberry patch, time in the barn!  Come to think of it, I did spend a few hours in “time out” in the bedroom, waiting on dad to come home from work!

Mother's High School Graduation

Mother’s High School Graduation

Mother taught us with her words, to be sure, but perhaps she taught us mostly by example, as I reflect on those early years in the 1950s and 60s.  It was a wonderful example of the disciplined life—and I don’t mean punishment.

She was disciplined in her person.  She was always up early.  The bed was made, she was dressed, and breakfast was prepared by the time the family could get to the kitchen.  Good grief, it isn’t uncommon today to see moms (and dads, too, to be fair) get on airplanes still in their pajamas!

The Prince of Belgium at the Peterson's, circa 1955

The Prince of Belgium at the Peterson’s, circa 1955

Although dad was not a good reader, mother was, and she read and studied daily.  When she walked into a Sunday school class filled with children on Sundays (as she did for decades), she had not only prepared her lesson, and she had prepared herself.  It was a lifestyle for her.

She was disciplined in private.  I remember overhearing a member of the church where I was pastor some years ago.  He did not know I was at his house yet, but he was yelling angrily at his children, but when I came on the scene, I realized that I was dealing with a Jekyll and Hyde!  Not mom—she was in private the same Hazel that she was in public!

We were taught to clean up and pick up after ourselves.  If we opened it, we were expected to close it.  When we came to the table for a meal, we were expected to have washed our hands and combed our hair.  Proper table manners were a way of life.  (Lord, I could write a book on the kind of manners I see in my travels!)

Hazel Peterson, circa 1978

Hazel Peterson, circa 1978

She was disciplined in public.  Perhaps the greatest aspect of this would be good manners, which again, was a carry-over from home.  Because of who she was as a person, mother respected others and treated them with pleasant courtesy.

She was disciplined even in her passing.  After her injuries from a horrible head-on collision caused by a drunk driver, mother’s swollen body was kept functioning somewhat by various forms of life support from Sunday until it was all removed the following Friday.  Since dad was in another intensive care unit and could not see mom, I was with her until she was pronounced dead.

Afterwards I made the all-too-familiar trek down to dad’s bedside.  Looking him in the eyes for the few seconds that seemed like minutes, I quietly said, “Dad, she’s gone.”  We wept together and then I prayed with him, as I had done many times before with others.  This time, though familiar in many ways, was different.  This was my mother.

Following a few moments of silence, I said, “Dad, I suppose you want me to call Bud?” which was more of a matter-of-fact statement than a question.  Our neighbor and daddy’s friend since childhood, Bud Coomer, was the funeral director at Mynatt’s Funeral Home.  I knew they would handle the arrangements.

As though I were still standing by that ICU bedside, I can still see dad’s lip quivering as he spoke, “Yes.  You mother and I talked through the details last week.  In the closet is a garment bag with everything Bud will need—all the clothing and jewelry.  And, son, your mother had a request.  She wanted you to preach her funeral.  Can you do it?”

I guess what I’m conveying is this—because of her disciple in life, she was prepared in death.  That preparation was evidenced by the conversation she and dad had together on Friday before the auto accident on Sunday.  More importantly, preparation had been made years earlier at a little country church hear her childhood home, when she had a conversation with God Himself, asking Jesus Christ to be her Savior.

The notes for her funeral are buried somewhere in my files, I suppose … haven’t seen them in years … but I remember this above all else.  Neither as her son nor as a minister preaching her funeral did I have to hunt for good things to say about her.  Good things abounded from her life as a Christian, much as it had been reflected in her grade cards from school days, when she received A’s … sometimes with as many as four plus-signs after them.

BTW, do you pray?  Have you ever had that all-important conversation with God?  You know … the one where you get really honest and admit that you, like everyone else in the world, are a sinner.  You know … when you get honest with yourself, too, admitting that you need Him as your Savior, and then asking Him to wash away your sins?

If not, wouldn’t this Mother’s Day be a great time to do that?  I mean, if not now, when?

Dale, Gina, & Dennis

Dale, Gina, & Dennis

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LITTLE THINGS

For me to say that a day seldom passes without realizing the influence of a godly mother would be an understatement, indeed.  For such a profound influence, I am grateful, and more so with each passing year.

My wife Debbie is enjoying Mother’s Day weekend in Phoenix with her daughter Dawn, so I am living like a bachelor for a few days … but a well-disciplined bachelor!

While making the bed (yeah, I still do that every morning as soon as my feet hit the floor!), I realised that I have done that since childhood.  That was one of the thousands of “little things” that my mother taught her children as we grew up on a dairy farm in the northern Knoxville community of Halls Crossroads (TN).

The “little things” instilled in me a personal discipline that has served me well all these years.  In fact, the majority of anything good and proper that I might have become or done for almost 65 years, was instilled in that humble home where I was raised on Fort Sumter Road. Some of these qualities have come to my mind this Mother’s Day weekend for two reasons.

First, my thoughts exploded while reminiscing on this special occasion—as they should for each of us—though I understand all too well that not everyone has been as fortunate as I.  Second, a couple of experiences today have highlighted these memories.

After rising early on a rare weekend at home, and with only two appointments on my calendar today, and making the bed, I headed to the shower. Even something as simple  as personal hygiene, had been taught in our home on the farm.

You see, in the mornings when we were called to get up, and when our beds had been made, we headed to the bathroom to wash our faces and comb our hair.  Until that was done and we were dressed for the day, we didn’t come to breakfast table.

Now, perhaps this seems foolish to many people today, but given the numbers of people that I encounter on airplanes, I will tell you this—there are a lot of people who need these lessons.  If you’ve ever been seated in 14C and had a seatmate in 14B who knew neither the definition of good hygiene or a brush or comb, you understand the value!

And while I’m on the subject, and although I seldom wear a suit and tie when traveling, we also learned something about appropriate attire!  As I type this, I’m sitting on the deck in clothing more appropriate than some people wear on planes and in department stores!  You have heard of peopleofwalmart.com, right?  Which leads me to this …

We were taught respect for others.  My negative experience earlier today brought this lesson to my mind.  One of my two appointments today was at our condo to meet a service company to have our windows washed inside and out.  They were to arrive between the hours of 9:00 and 11:00 AM.  (Heck, in our culture today, we can’t seem to meet a singular time—like 9:00 AM—so we set time zones!)

By 12:30 PM, when the window washers still had not arrived, I typed and printed a note to tape on the front door: “Dear ____ Window Washing, It is 12:30 PM.  Our appointment was for 9:00 AM—11:00 AM.  I have errands to run.  I will return at 1:00 PM.  Dale.  P.S.  Appointments are important to me and I expect them to be important to the companies with which I do business.”

Just as I reached for scotch tape, the doorbell rang.  Yep, it was the crew … who did a great job cleaning the windows.  However, my bank was now closed, my lunch plans had been canceled, and I was reminded of the importance of respect for others … especially their time.  My children have even joked about it for years; “With dad, “on time” is fifteen minutes early!

Beyond the routine elements of daily living, and in the light of eternity, I am thankful that my mother modeled and mentored godliness.  Those people who even casually knew Hazel Peterson would tell you that she was a marvelous example of what a Christian woman, wife, mother, friend and neighbor should be.

Regrettably on my part, if our immediate family on Fort Sumter Road had a “black sheep,” I must have been it.  I gave mother and dad more than a few times of disappointment, especially as a teenager.  However, that was in spite of, not because of, the upbringing they provided.

Thankfully, I came to an intersection in time when, after a long talk with myself, I chose to follow the counsel with which I had been raised.  Perhaps it was like Robert Frost’s piece, Two Roads, and like Frost, I chose the road less traveled, and that has made all the difference!

Yes, many of the good qualities often lacking in our culture today were expected in our home, and on this Mother’s Day 2015, this son rises to call his mother blessed.  (Pro 31:28)

Hazel Peterson, circa 1978

Hazel Peterson, circa 1978

BTW, do you pray?  If so, would you join me in a prayer of thanksgiving for godly mothers scattered all over the planet?  Then, perhaps you will join me also in praying that God will raise up another generation of godly mothers.  The good Lord knows they are needed for future window washers, airplane passengers, and shoppers on aisle 10!

Mother's High School Graduation

Mother’s High School Graduation

She Gave Us More Than Life

Three times over a ten-year period, she brought new life to this world—May 1950, again in November 1954, and yet again in January 1961.  Her three children were born healthy and whole—well, except for that spiritual part, that is. 

 Yes, Hazel Peterson gave life to the three of us (Dennis, Gina King, and me); but she gave us more than life, that we might live.  She also gave us an marvelous model by which we could live.

She gave us more than life—she included good partnering for our father—an example we could follow

Both mother and daddy (that’s what we called them when we were small) set as great an example of what husbands and wives ought to be as any couple I’ve ever witnessed.  In retrospect, I couldn’t have asked for better parents, because they laid a proper foundation by being great partners for each other.

Dad was a quiet unassuming man, who worked long, hard days—especially during the years when he and my paternal grandfather owned and operated the largest dairy farm in eastern Tennessee, combined with his construction business as a brick mason.  In my mind’s eye I can still see him coming home from work and kissing my mom—or see him standing behind her as she looked across the farm from the large window over the kitchen sink, one arm on either side of her, his hands pressed against the counter. 

Mother's High School Graduation

Although I can still hear them discussing family matters, Mother did most of the organizing.  They were so homogenous in their relationship that they seldom discussed anything for very long—at least not in front of us as children.  Whatever one presented as an option made so much sense to the other, they just agreed!  I never remember hearing them argue—not even once. 

They loved each other, and it wasn’t until I was in college that I discovered that not all husbands and wives enjoyed the kind of partnership that mother and daddy did.  Other people knew it, too, and have told me so through the years, especially when I conducted their funerals.

In fact, a year or so after mother had died (as the result of a head-on collision caused by a drunk driver), Dad was visiting my family.  The day he was heading back to the family home on Fort Sumpter Road outside of Knoxville, as he opened the car door, he turned and asked, “Dale, do you think I loved your mother too much?”  He was hurting, missing his mate, and I had no clue what he was felling.  I replied, “Dad, unless you loved her more than you do God, how could you love her too much?”

She gave us more than life—she included good parenting for us as children—an example we could follow

Dad wasn’t the only hard worker in the family—mother was right there, too.  While I never knew which parent was the first one up in the morning as a rule, I know they were both already up and dressed for the day when they awaken the children.  We also awakened to the aroma of breakfast cooking six days a week—most of it cooked or fried in bacon grease.  Only on Sunday mornings did we eat boxed breakfast cereals, and that was because Dad didn’t want mother to have to cook on Sunday.  In fact, it was quite common for Dad to do the cooking for lunch and dinner.

We also awaken to a list of to-do’s that are still my habit to this day.  As soon as our feet hit the floor, we made the beds we’d just slept in.  Pajamas were folded and placed under our pillows.  We dressed, washed our faces, and combed our hair before going to the breakfast table. 

Ralph, Hazel, & Dale, circa 1954

There was always order in the Peterson’s household—not just with things, but also in our relationships. If we were told by a parent to do something, we were expected to do it.  Mother never counted to three—unless it was three whacks across our backsides when we did not do what we were told.  That expectation later morphed into the tag line that I used with my own children, “Quickly, cheerfully, I will obey.”  It’s apparent to me when I see young parents today—giving a “time out” to their three-year-olds—they must not have had parents like mine!

She gave us more than life—she included good principles for our lives—an example we could follow 

Some of these principles have already bled through in previous paragraphs—things like cleanliness.  Generally speaking, my wife does not have to follow a trail of crumbs or dirty clothes through our condo, cleaning up after a thoughtless husband.  In fact, she chuckles sometimes with my banal obsessions for orderliness, but somehow I think on the inside she is grateful that my mother (whom she has never met) instilled cleanliness in me!

Mother also instilled good study habits in her children.  In fact, I may very well be the weak link in that chain, since both my younger siblings have greater formal education than I do.  But all three of us are students of life—not merely of textbooks in classrooms, though these certainly have their place.  While Dad was a B/C-level student in school, mother excelled with straight-As, and she wanted her children to be good students, both inside and outside of a classroom. 

We were also provided an excellent moral compass in our home.  Life’s daily routines and travels afforded us many family discussions of right and wrong, as well as the reasons behind each.  As I look around the country in which I live today, I can’t help but think that although we have more possessions, we have fewer godly principles at play today.  Sadly, our country is adrift morally in every way.

Dale, Dennis, & Gina, circa 1963

One last principle that mother instilled her children was respect.  Respect (or a lack thereof) can be seen in so many ways, from the manner with which one family member treats another to the way in which total strangers interact.  Not only did mother (and Dad) instill a sense of proper respect in their children, their very lives commanded the respect of all who knew them.  Again, I’ve heard this time and again through the years. 

Finally, she gave us more than life—she included good prospects for the future—an example to follow  

Dennis, Gina, and I come from “good stock,” as people used to say.  We know it, we are thankful for it, and we want the same to be said of each of us and our families.  Mother and Daddy laid the foundation.  They weren’t perfect, although they were closer to it than I will ever be.  It was through their lives and my upbringing that I had hope for the future in a family of my own.

Yet, the good prospects for the future are larger than this life.  It includes the life to come.  You see, mother lived her life in such a manner that her children would come to faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior.  She lived daily the Christ life—we could understand Him better by looking at, listening to, and sensing it in her!

So, on this Mother’s Day 2011, although Dennis, Gina, and Dale will wear white flowers on our lapels, our mother is very much alive, no doubt standing at a heavenly kitchen window above the sink, daddy’s arms around her, both of them looking this way, waiting and watching for the kids to come home—each of us, for the last time.

There’s one family circle that will not be broken!  Meanwhile, her children will rise up and call her blessed, with gratitude for a godly mother who gave us so much more than life!

Dale, Gina, & Dennis