I am, I think it’s fair to say, the only person among my friends and classmates who, as a child growing up, was awakened for school not by an alarm clock or a yell but by a gentle song often sung in German.
Unusual, I know, but that was my Mom. Inge Wehner felt like her children deserved to start the day with tenderness, a smile, easing their way into the world. No loud, discordant alarm clock for her kids. For her each morning was a beautiful morning, each day a beautiful day. My siblings all have a similar story to tell.
My Mom, beloved not only by her family but by just about everyone she ever met, passed away earlier this week. She lived a long and full life; my sister said she lived the life of her dreams, as a wife and mother. And no one, and I mean no one, did it better. So even though her death wasn’t a surprise, it is still quite a jolt. It was Churchill who, in writing to the wife of a friend who passed away, said great happiness long enjoyed casts its own shadow.
Mom cast a very long shadow.
The memories of her are too long and too personal to relay here. Suffice it to say that my mother inspired a devotion in those who loved her, and were loved by her, that is impossible to capture for those who were not fortunate enough to have known life in her orbit. It is, I think, worth pointing this out: She raised four children during the tumultuous cultural revolution of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Generation Gap and all that. Yet never once did any of the four of her children rebel against her, turn on her, or turn from her. We revered her, then and now.
To anyone who entered into her world–family, the friends of her children, neighbors, members of her bridge and book review group, teachers, bus drivers, hairdressers, people who worked at grocery stores, shoe stores, card stores, fruit markets, and pharmacies–she brought joy, laughter, an encouraging word. Even during hard days she didn’t travel in the valley; her life was all about the uplands. For she believed with all her heart that God was the author of each of our stories, that things would inevitably turn out well. With her, because of her, they almost always did.
A passion for life, selflessness and generosity, grace and dignity, and such kindness–those are among the rarest of human qualities. In my Mom they each found a home. And even in her last years, as dementia robbed her of her mind, it was never able to touch her spirit.
It was quite remarkable, really. Right until the end Mom was ready with a smile, at peace with the world, a light in our lives. That light continues to shine in the hearts of her family and the countless lives she touched all along the way. And we each take comfort in knowing she is in a place where the morning has begun, where all things are made new again, in the arms of our loving Lord.
But I still miss my Mom.