A couple of weeks ago I posted on my blog portions of what I read at my mom’s memorial service. Now, I’m going to share the story surrounding her Celebration of Life and how God showed His faithfulness in the midst of it all.
The sun shone vividly the morning of mama’s service, nevertheless my emotions remained engulfed in a deluge of throbbing grief. Wondering if I could hold myself together for the service; let alone muster enough nerve to share the essence of who our mother was. Thankfully deeply embedded within me was a greater desire to honor her, allowing me to override the pain. God filling me with this inner strength to temporarily jump over hurtles of timidity and the fear of public speaking.
As I geared up to head toward that hopeful direction, I donned myself with waterproof mascara (an absolute must), and still allotted for a potential backup plan. This crucial plan was comprised of two dear friends gifted in the art of public speaking willing to wait in the wings if things veered south. Still my heartfelt intentions and prayers were earnest to get through the 8 minute time of sharing.
Having countless things my mother taught my brother and I to glean from, I choose a selection of valuable lessons carved through her words or forged by her life. Also, including a sprinkling of her silly antics that made for lots of fun stories to tell.
One of the funny stories that I wasn’t able to share was her first morning ritual, the ceremonial task of opening all the heavily draped windows, giving way to joyful light dancing with the pull of the curtain strings.While simultaneously belting out two silly songs…never deviating from her delightful favorites. Everyday she arose from her bed singing, “Oh, how I hate to get up in the morning, oh, how I hate to get out of bed”, then making her way down the hallway towards the windows finishing off her encore performance with, “Have a Banana, Have a Banana “. We knew mom was up by the sound of her voice caroling down the hall.
Now as an adult I too love to start my day by opening the curtains. Though I’ve taken a fancy to singing little ditties from time to time, I’m sorry to say my repertoire of morning melodies do not include mom’s personal faves… the famous saying “Apples do not fall far from the tree” somehow still rings gloriously true.
So when this little apple opened the shades first thing in the morning of mom’s memorial, my eyes beheld a breathtakingly beautiful red poppy that bloomed overnight. Its’ brightness and contrast to the muted palette shocking me with its’ first vibrant bloom. My mind recalled the field of poppies in the Wizard of Oz, while softly saying yes Lord mom is now experiencing, “There is no place like home”..in Heaven. Profoundly comforted yet still wanting to know more about this new cheery visitor I made my way to the computer, my inquiring mind wanted to learn the meaning of the poppy more completely. Clicking on Wikipedia my eyes could not believe what I was reading about this flower and their symbolism. It stated that:
“Poppies have long been used as a symbol of sleep, peace, and death: sleep because of the opium extracted from them, and death because of the common blood-red color of the red poppy in particular. In Greek and Roman myths, poppies were used as offerings to the dead. Poppies used as emblems on tombstones symbolize eternal sleep. And also a remembrance for soldiers handed out around Memorial day.”
Another interpretation of poppies written in Classical mythology is that “the bright scarlet color signifies a promise of resurrection after death.”
What a perfect hug from God, … soon I would be gathering with others not only in remembrance of my mom but also rejoicing in God’s promise. That she now lives in eternal glory, free from pain and suffering. The poppy has become an ongoing comfort to me as I mourn the loss of my best friend and dear mother.
The very next day after the service, my little family somberly celebrated Mother’s Day and I was graced by a second poppy blooming in our yard. Grabbing my camera to snap a photo of this newly opened magnificent bloom hoping to capture its’ delicate form. Afterwards I counted the remaining buds still cloaked awaiting their brilliant reveal. Two were blooming while three were waiting. Five is the number of grace and was the number of people in our family whenever mom hung out with the Jennings.
As I clung to grace celebrating Mother’s Day without mom, we decided to switch our lunch plans for the day from the China Gorge restaurant in Hood River, to Calamity Jane”s in Sandy, Oregon. Playing out the scenario of the day in my mind I was sure that all of us would be getting burgers served in a cast iron skillet. However, my husband ordered a taco salad making me giggle at the scene that previously ran through my mind. Frankly, it matters not what my husband orders, it just seemed unconventional for him to choose a salad at a restaurant known for their burgers… usually his “norm”. Then it all made sense as I glanced at my husband’s finished meal staring at his now empty plate… amazed to see five red poppies designed on the melmac dish.
I love how God shows up in the seemingly common, obscure places, ready to bless us through the smallest details or grandest design. His plan unwrapping in our present. Only requiring eyes ready to see, ears ready to hear, and hearts ready to expect Him to show up.
One year later still marveling at how poppies show up in curious places my eyes increasingly mindful of their breathtaking and heartwarming presence… God revealings Himself again and again through their message. Looking forward to sharing more about that in the future.