Sunday was my first Mother’s Day without my mother, who passed away last year. The sorrow I feel is inexpressible. My mother was the most beautiful, the most talented, and the most intriguing woman I’ve ever known.
She suffered many loses. Most of her siblings died relatively young. Her father died in his forties and her mother in her sixties. She was intensely passionate about the people she loved, including those who had passed on, but she kept her feelings in check.
Mom expressed her feelings through art, music, and poetry–and excelled in all three. She started drawing late in life, sketching landscapes, people, and still life. Her painting “Solitude” won first place in a contest in Richmond, Virginia.
No one could play the piano like my mother. She had music in her bones. Mom’s “jazzy” style came through in almost every composition–with the exception of hymns. She played them with reverence but also with lots of energy. Playing hymns came natural to my mother because she was a Methodist’s preacher’s wife.
I’m glad that I taped her playing “Alabama Jubilee,” “Frankie and Johnnie,” “Ain’t She Sweet,” “Faith of Our Faiths,” “Blest Be the Tie that Binds,” Mozart’s “Sonata No. 16 in C Major,” and “He Ransomed Me” (a hymn that she wrote in 2000). Often I would interrupt her, and ask her what key she was playing in. She enjoyed taking a single song and playing it in every key. Sometimes she played by hear; sometimes by reading music.
My dad, Rev. Dr. Eugene B. Wright, passed away eight years before she did. He played the banjo. I loved watching them play music together. They were a team. Mom helped him in the ministry and somehow found time to teach elementary school and later became a real estate broker.
In the last year of her life, Mother played “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder” time and again. She often alluded to dying. She knew lots of scripture. Even in her late 90s, she was quoting the Bible. Her favorite verse was, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4: 14, Holy Bible).
My mother was fiercely independent, but December 1, 2015, she had a stroke that left the right side of her body paralyzed. The day she was taken by ambulance to the emergency room, she was helpless. Her right arm and leg were useless. She looked at me with tear-filled eyes that haunt me to this day. I think it was the first– and only time–that I saw my mother cry. She died a week later.
Mom is in heaven. She saw Jesus a few days before she passed away. This life on earth is indeed “a vapor,” but for those in Christ, death is beginning of life eternal with the Lord. I am confident that I will see her again. “In the sweet by and by we will meet on that beautiful shore.”